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You might find it hard to believe but this behemoth is actually on sale in Malaysia via the official distributor. This is the Infiniti QX80, a huge luxury SUV that competes with the likes of the Lexus LX 570, which you can’t find in a Lexus Malaysia showroom.

UPDATE: Oh we spoke too soon. It has just been confirmed that the latest Lexus LX 570 will indeed arrive in Malaysia soon – before the end of 2015.

Priced at RM799k OTR before insurance, it’s competitors price-wise then would be the Range Rover and the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, but it isn’t exactly the same kind of vehicle as the latter two, and the QX80 is cheaper as well. Like the LX 570, this one is built on a body-on-frame platform.

It’s the kind of SUV that regularly ply the roads of North America and the Middle East. In Malaysia, you’d probably imagine oil palm tycoons visiting their estates in something like this. I’ve already seen this one parked at a certain office building where a G 63 AMG would usually be parked (probably one of the owner’s many cars) so you get the idea of the typical buyer profile.

As you can see even from the photos it has immense road presence, but being even bigger than the LX (which you can usually see via grey imports), you really have to see how gigantic it is in real life to get a true picture of how big this behemoth is.


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This isn’t one for someone whose not very good at manoeuvring cars because the colossal QX80 measures in a 5,305 mm long, 2,030 mm wide and 1,945 mm tall with a wheelbase of 3,075 metres. That’s longer and taller than the Range Rover, GL-Class and LX, with only the Range Rover managing to edge the QX80 out a bit in terms of width.

Styling is a bit odd-ball – for some reason Infiniti’s designers gave it headlamps and tail lamps that look like they belong on a significantly smaller vehicle. Most of the people who had a look at it described it as looking like a big white whale.

Inside that huge nose up front sits a 5.6 litre normally aspirated V8 producing 405 horsepower and 560 Nm of torque, mated to a Jatco seven-speed automatic gearbox. Despite its 2,829 kg kerb weight, the sheer power of the big V8 can take it up to 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds. The QX80 is rated at 6.9 km per litre but in reality you’ll probably get closer to 4 km per litre based on our experience.

Our Malaysian spec QX80 comes with something called Hydraulic Body Motion Control, or HBMC. This actually gives the QX80 something in common with a McLaren MP4-12c. Take a peek at the suspension system and you’ll find a rather unusual setup that actually works pretty decent.

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There are absolutely no anti-roll bars in this vehicle. Instead, the shock absorbers at the four corners of the vehicle are interconnected. The movement of the hydraulic oil through these connections generate stiffness during body roll instead of relying on stabiliser bars.

So when a car leans to one side in a corner, the pressure on the lengthening outer side of the body helps the shock absorber on the shortening inner side prop up.

The lack of any stiff stabiliser bars also provides the QX80 good off-roading performance as it maximises suspension stroke. The hydraulic oil will flow around the system in reaction to surface variations to enhance off-road traction.

While the four corners of the QX80 have hydraulic struts and metal springs instead of the typical full air suspension system employed by its rivals, the rear axle has air springs too used in conjunction with the primary metal springs. The air springs are used for load-levelling depending on passenger and luggage load. The benefits of this is that the main coil at the rear axle can be softer for ride comfort while the QX80 is unloaded, but when you add on load the air spring will kick in.

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Given the fact that it rides on a body on frame platform and those gigantic 22 inch alloy wheels, the QX80 is surprisingly pliant around Klang Valley roads. The ride is like gliding on lumpy but mostly smooth cereal porridge – it’s only when it discovers little high frequency undulations on the road, it doesn’t manage to smoothen it out completely.

That V8 engine is just wow. I’ve driven quite a few V8 engines before my session with the QX80 but they’ve all been turbocharged, and that changes the aural character of the engine a little. This one’s normally aspirated, so you get a proper V8 rumble from it. Credits also to Infiniti for always choosing a sportier exhaust tone to go with its cars.

Throttle response is great, acceleration feels sporty, and you don’t have to rev up much to get into a strong torque band. This isn’t a particularly peaky V8 so its character suits an SUV. At the same time the engine is incredibly quiet when you want it to, and there’s not a single bit of vibration from it. Very refined in deed.

In terms of traction, the QX80 has an all wheel drive system that sends power to the rear wheels by default by can divert up to 50% of the power to the front axle if needed. You can also force a 50:50 split in 4H mode at speeds up to 100 km/h, and there’s also a 4L mode for low gearing that can be activated under 50 km/h. It’s got a rear diff lock feature. The QX80 also has a Hill Descent Control feature.

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As you can see from the photos we did take the QX80 off the tarmac but it wasn’t exactly off-road. The QX80’s ground clearance helped us climb some kerbs and get us into the middle of a vast grass field in Shah Alam that we usually only get to see from the distance.

There’s a knob that lets you choose between sand, snow, on road and rock terrains to adjust the VDC, TCS, ABLS and throttle response according to the terrain you’re expected to drive on but we just left all the systems in auto and proceed to drive in.

However, with the QX80 being fitted with 275/50R22 tyres at all four corners I’m not sure how often you’ll want to bring this to serious off-road sessions where the relatively thin sidewall might be an issue.

The QX80 comes with Infiniti’s Safety Shield suite which consists of Land Departure Warning & Prevention, Blind Spot Warning, Back-up Collision Intervention, Moving Object Detection, Around View Monitor, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Distance Control Assist and Intelligent Cruise Control.

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The Predictive Forward Collision Warning system takes your regular forward collision warning systems up to the next level – the radar can detect a decrease in speed of vehicle up to two cars ahead, and then alerts the driver through sound, display and tightening of the seat belt. If a collision is imminent, the Forward Emergency Braking feature will brake for you up to a stand still if necessary.

Of course the feature that you’re probably going to use the most is the cruise control feature not only takes the pain out of long highway drives but in stop and go traffic as well, from 0 km/h up to 144 km/h. You can even set the distance you wish to keep from the vehicle in front of you – just choose from 30 m, 45 m or 60 m gaps.

Finally we get to the interior, which is where you’ll spend most of your time in. The QX80 is massively wide – you just have to take a look at how wide the centre armrest is. Easily double the width of many other cars.

As a result, this is a proper 8 seater. Three adults will easily be able to sit side by side in the second row. Build quality is top notch and the cabin has a peaceful living room-like atmosphere to it, quiet and covered with leather.

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There’s a button which the driver can press to electrically fold and tip the second row (60:40 split) forward to ease access to the third row, but folding it back down has to be done manually. Other conveniences include seat heating and cooling for the driver and front passenger, and power recline adjustment for the third row.

There’s also a three-zone air conditioning with Plasmacluster ioniser and grape polyphenol filter to reduce allergens, a 15 speaker Bose sound system with two seven-inch rear screens and wireless headphones. Infiniti claims a unique “curtain vent” system where a stream of air is blown upwards at the windows to reduce heat.

The front seats are very comfortable, and has a brilliant driving position overlooking that massive contoured engine hood. After an initial 10 minutes getting used to the car’s width, it was easy to manoeuvre this thing around town.

The second and third row are wide, because of the vehicle’s high floor (thanks to the body on frame platform) those who are tall might the seats a bit too close to the floor resulting in a slightly uncomfortable angle for their legs. There’s also not much room under the front seats to tuck your feet under.

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Other downsides include a dated interface for the in-car infotainment system, one that’s already been replaced for newer models like the Q50. The ‘last generation’ feel of some things includes the dated instrument cluster and a general lack of USB ports around the cabin.

And that key – how is it that Infiniti thinks that this RM799k SUV can share the same key as a Nissan Almera costing less than 10% its price?

It’s not to say the QX80 is dated though – the vast array of active safety features and the fancy McLaren-like suspension system tell otherwise. Infiniti just needs to work on the interfaces in the interior.

Under the surface the QX80 is a competent vehicle at a pretty reasonable price compared to its rivals and I enjoyed the feeling of commanding something so massive around while sitting in a plush interior.