There are very few ‘firsts’ when you’ve been test driving cars for as long as I have.
But I recently climbed behind the wheel of an Infiniti G37 saloon for the first time and I was suitably impressed.
It had bags of power, somewhat cheeky looks and the best bit was no-one really knew what it was.
Show the Infiniti badge in a pub quiz and I’ll warrant that nobody will guess correctly.
To be fair, I have driven Infinitis before, this was my second sorte into the brand but this time it was an FX - an upmarket 4x4 fitted with a diesel engine.
Large 4x4’s aren’t cheap nowadays are they? Cheapest BMW X6 is £47,000, the Range Rover Sport £48,000 and the Land Cruiser V8 is a mighty £60,000; enter then the INFINITI FX 3.0-litre diesel GT at £46,000.
It appears Infiniti is looking to offer customers rather more than their money might suggest with their range of cars and 4x4’s.
The FX is challenging in a segment already stacked with great large 4x4’s.
If you didn’t know, Infiniti is the luxury arm of Nissan, and to that end it can draw on tried and tested mechanicals.
This V6 diesel has a single turbocharger and produces a healthy 235bhp, good enough to see the lofty 4x4 hit 132mph, with 0-60 taking just 8.2 seconds.
It channels its power through a seven-speed automatic gearbox and can easily achieve 30+mpg. Emissions are quoted as 238g/km.
It drives exceptionally smoothly and there is no lurching or otherwise once you’ve selected ‘D’.
There’s a lot of technology underneath the bodyshell that is the FX and this promotes both an accomplished ride on the black stuff, and a rugged, proficient mud-plugger off it.
It uses an intelligent four-wheel-drive system that distributes torque automatically to the wheels where it is needed most and the software it uses controls the input, should the driver get a bit exuberant.
If you want even more of a sporty feel to your FX then the ‘S’ version can be had; it uses the same engine as my test car but has fitted sports suspension with electronically controlled dampers which in turn talks to the active rear wheel steering and optimises driver progression and ultimately safety.
It still is a big car; mammoth bonnet height and large, imposing wheel arches really set this car apart and as for driving an Infiniti, few people know what it is.
In the flesh, it’s a mega-looking car with a wide grille and aggressive headlights and massive wheels.
Infiniti is aimed at the premium market, don’t forget, and while the FX could simply dive into the Nissan interior parts bin it doesn’t - it uses bespoke materials and switchgear that totally justify it’s presence in this sector.
It feels special inside and I think that’s where Infiniti has got it spot on.
Equipment levels are high, lots of good standard kit in here, and upgrade to either GT from standard or S models and it’s a case of what it hasn’t got, rather than what it has.
At launch, the FX had a 3.7-litre petrol engine and as a result sales didn’t really shoot away from the starting grid; the introduction of the diesel engine has transformed this, and now everyone is taking it very seriously indeed.
I guess the key to its popularity will be whether or not it holds its value? My answer to that question will be yes, as Infiniti controls the amount of cars bought into the UK and as a result will make the FX sought-after and somewhat of a luxury, diesel-powered, attractive 4x4 that certainly cuts it with the rest of the best.