First Drive: 2003 Infiniti FX45 – Autos.ca

11 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on First Drive: 2003 Infiniti FX45 – Autos.ca
Infiniti FX45

February 5, 2003

Los Angeles, California #8211; It must be something in the air. Whatever it is about the entertainment business that drives every waitress or waiter to be an aspiring actor #8211; that has otherwise-normal human beings on constant lookout for celebrity faces #8211; that has even the working poor lusting after a hot car and a set of big chrome wheels for their next rap video #8211; it#8217;s endemic

to Los Angeles, and I caught the bug bad when I hit the ground.

Okay, so maybe it was something about the temperature, what with twenty-degrees-C being #8220;cold#8221; enough for the locals to put hardtops on their convertibles, but which had me breezing around town in an Infiniti SUV with its windows and sunroof wide open. Here suddenly I was remembering that sitting on my laptop#8217;s hard drive was my very own Hollywood dream, a 129-page high-concept movie script: a romantic comedy that isn#8217;t actually very funny. There it was, burning a hole through my iBook#8217;s case, willing me to the nearest Kinko#8217;s to make a copy, begging to be shopped around town in at least a perfunctory manner during the two-day press preview.

Fine then, because what better way to test the mettle of Infiniti#8217;s new FX45 than in the environment in which it is likely to be most used #8211; Californian urban sprawl, winding canyon roads, cell phone glued to driver#8217;s ear #8211; and what better vehicle than the hottest SUV on the market as a way to potentially open a couple of doors, get people talking to me before they realized just what a fraud I was. #8220;You may have read my columns in Autos,#8221; I would tell the guards at the gates.

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See, in L.A. star power has as much to do with cars as it does real people, and judging from an evening and a day with the FX45, it#8217;s very much the #8216;it#8217; car of the moment, sort of the automotive equivalent of, oh, Ben Affleck with Vin Diesel#8217;s gravelly voice. And no wonder: just check out those lines #8211; the aggressive, bluff nose with its slanted eyes, the tensely arched roofline, the big-bore exhaust pipes and the massive twenty-inch tires #8211; and no, they#8217;re not optional.

Infiniti FX45

It was not, however, with the security guard at the Paramount lot. #8220;Who are you?#8221; the old guy asked again before waving me back out onto the suburban back roads behind the big Hollywood sign. #8220;No, I won#8217;t pass your script along to someone who matters.#8221; Across town at Universal the response was even more chilled: just a glare and a pointed finger to get the hell out of the lot, please.

Click image to enlarge

Never mind then. With 315 horses underfoot, there were better things to do, anyway. The FX45 has the guts to back up its extreme looks. The 4.5-litre V8 is the same as in the Q45, retuned for more low-end torque.

It#8217;s hooked to a swift-shifting five-speed automatic that powers all four wheels (in steady-state driving it#8217;s almost completely rear-drive, but the split can go to 50/50 during acceleration). Brakes are predictably huge, and there#8217;s also a full array of active-safety systems, including ABS with electronic force distribution, brake assist (which applies full stopping power in a panic stop), and an aggressively-calibrated Vehicle Dynamics Control system.

Among SUVs I#8217;ve driven, only the $94,000 BMW X5 4.6iS comes close to this level of roadholding and general driver involvement. There#8217;s plenty of feedback about the road surface coming up through the steering and the seats, and the brakes have a firm, confident feel. The ride is unabashedly sporty, too #8211; maybe too sporty, as it felt stiff on billiard-smooth California roads, the steamroller tires bumping and bashing over every bump.

Infiniti FX45
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