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Infiniti FX30d GT Premium

Can UK newcomer mix it with might of German rivals?

Even though Infiniti has been selling cars in North America since 1989, it has taken the brand another two decades to reach the UK. 

To succeed in Europe, bosses realised diesel power was absolutely essential – and the FX is the perfect place to showcase the new engine. 

The Japanese model looks small compared to its rivals in this test, with a low roofline and aggressive bulging bonnet. Love it or hate it, the car certainly stands out, and bears a greater resemblance to a coupé-based crossover than an SUV. 

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Chrome detailing around the wide-mouthed front grille, windows, sills and roof rails adds some glitz to the package, and this will deter or attract potential buyers in equal measure.

Inside, things look promising. The cabin is simply crammed with kit – everything from ventilated leather seats and parking sensors to multi-view cameras, sat-nav and Bluetooth is standard. 

However, settle into the driver’s seat and you’ll instantly notice the limited steering wheel adjustment. And although the seat initially proves comfortable, it doesn’t drop low enough 

or provide sufficient side support on the move.

Overall, the interior feels cramped compared to its rivals, with a lot less space around the driver. The racy, Maserati-style shift paddles are a neat touch, though, and while the dials 

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aren’t especially classy, the large typeface makes them easy to read. 

The view out over the long bonnet is impressive – the bulging wheelarches are more sports car than off-roader. But the switchgear can’t match rivals’ for quality, and many of the controls also see service in much cheaper Nissans. There are also too many materials, with wood, metal, leather and various shades of plastic vying for attention.

Passengers in the rear will struggle for space – and this is compounded by the narrow back door openings. But what disappoints more is the boot. It’s shallow, and offers only 410 litres of space – that’s 210 litres down on the BMW and 170 litres less than the Porsche and VW. 

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On the road, the Infiniti proves equally uninspiring, with stiff and crashy suspension, yet plenty of body roll. Plus, the seven-speed automatic gearbox kicks down too readily, while 

the 235bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel becomes coarse and unrefined above 3,500rpm. Progress isn’t exactly smooth. 

The self-shifter is much better in manual mode; leave it in auto, and sluggish shifts hold the car back. It was no surprise that the Infiniti struggled to keep pace with its rivals at the track – it took 1.6 seconds longer than the VW to sprint from 0-60mph, recording a time of nine seconds exactly. Vague steering and an overly firm brake pedal complete a disappointing dynamic package, and the FX doesn’t inspire the same confidence as its opponents on cross-country journeys. 

Its biggest problem has to be running costs. Officially, the car should return 31.4mpg – trailing the other models by 6.8mpg. But on our test, the FX struggled to hit 21mpg. It needs servicing every 12,500 miles, too, and although Infiniti will collect your car before every check-up, then deliver it once the work is finished, buyers should bear in mind that there are only two UK dealers at the moment.

If you want a truly distinctive SUV, the FX30d might be worth a look. But against conventional rivals, the car has its work cut out.

Details

Chart position: 4
WHY: Although Infiniti badge is new to UK, Nissan’s premium brand is popular in the US and Asia. There’s no mistaking the bold FX

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