Infiniti’s FX 3.0 S and Toyota’s 86 – How much beauty? How much beast?
The latest brand to hit South African soil is Infiniti – Nissan’s premium brand, similar to Toyota’s Lexus.
I tested Infiniti’s SUV model, which, in my opinion, is one of the sportiest looking SUV’s available in South Africa. Its swooping lines and coupe styling gives the car an exciting aesthetic, while the chunky bonnet-creases and huge wheels create an aggressive presence. All in all, it’s a well-designed machine that is bound to inspire strong reactions one way or another. As for me, I loved it.
Due to the Infiniti’s attractive looks and unusual badge, questions and comments from onlookers were frequent. Most people appeared shocked to hear the name and had difficulty taking my responses seriously!
The vehicle’s interior continues the outward, sporty theme, and luxuriously soft leather, including that which adorns the steering wheel, exudes quality and class. This car is equipped with all the bells and whistles as standard, including sunroof, satellite navigation and temperature-adjustable seats.
There is ample room inside for 5 adults to be transported comfortably. The coupe design results in rear headroom that is a bit limited, but for those of average height, this should pose no significant problem. Boot space is reasonable, and a subwoofer is fitted on the inside of the spare wheel, fully utilising the available space. The rear seats are adjustable to three positions, adding flexibility to the boot space and enhancing the luxury enjoyed by rear seat passengers.
The dashboard layout is pleasing, complementing the overall ergonomics of the vehicle. Those familiar with Nissan vehicles will recognise elements of the Infiniti’s entertainment console, with buttons and a mouse control just in front of the screen. As mentioned in earlier Nissan reviews, I think this is one of the more practical systems available. It works well.
On the road, the 3-litre diesel motor offers sufficient grunt and power to satisfy most drivers. I did however feel that gear changes were a bit sluggish. Switching the gearbox into sport mode did result in some improvement, but I found using the paddle shift to be the best solution when quick downshifts were required.
Overall, I feel that this car poses a significant threat to its competitors. Its biggest drawback is possibly its relatively high price tag, which I believe to be a bit on the excessive side. Considering the fact that this brand is new to SA, it should perhaps be more competitively priced. Apart from this critique, the Infinite SUV truly is a great car that represents a solid choice in the luxury family vehicle class. I would not be surprised to see this vehicle attracting favourable attention and reviews in this country in the near future.
3.0l V6 Cylinder
8.3 Sec (Claimed)
From R699 000,00
Car courtesy of Infinity South Africa.
Toyota has decided to reincarnate its legendary 86 sports car. This re-engineered 2+2 seater sports car is the result of collaboration between Subaru and Toyota.
The vehicle features pure sports car lines, with an elongated bonnet and strikingly short rear end with almost no overhangs. The front end has a rather brutish looking bumper that has been perfectly sculpted into the sloping bonnet. The LED headlights add to the overall performance-orientated character of the vehicle, an orientation that is further reinforced by a rather large diffuser that dominates the rear bumper visual. All external things considered, there is little to find fault with in this vehicle’s looks department. If anything, a rear spoiler might lend an attractive finishing touch.
As you open the frameless doors, you are greeted by sports seats and a neatly designed dashboard that is fairly basic. There are no fancy dials or contraptions, but rather a simple, no-nonsense dashboard that displays only the information that the driver needs. One big drawback for me is the ‘disconnect’ between the red, light interior and the green coloured audio system. This in my opinion spoils an otherwise decent interior appearance. The rear seats, as one might expect, are on the small side and intended for children. Its boot design is unconventional, with no cover over the spare wheel, which is therefore fully exposed each time the boot-lid is opened. This, in my view, is another oversight.
The Toyota 86 is powered by a 2-litre, 4-cylinder Subaru boxer engine, which has a nice hum to it, but lacks the grunt that the vehicle’s exciting design might imply. This makes it somewhat of a sheep in wolf’s clothing. There are rumours that Toyota may release a TRD version of this model featuring a turbo. If that’s the case, it would definitely be the more desirable option. The drive is a bit harsh, but this is not uncommon in sports car territory. Thanks to the low centre of gravity, the car feels solid and stable around bends, although the journey does become jarring on bumpy roads. The steering wheel offers positive feedback, making the driver feel in control even when pushing the car to its limits.
As far as I’m concerned, Toyota has a winner here that is destined for ‘champion’ status – if the marque adds a turbo and addresses a few design shortcomings. At its current price the 86 faces little competition in the sports coupe class. One obvious rival is the Kia Cerato Koup, which does however not boast true sports car looks. The Toyota 86 should revive the sports car passion of Toyota enthusiasts, and make a real impact among young drivers (or those young at heart). The 86 is definitely an ace up Toyota’s sleeve.
2.0l 4 Cylinder
8.2 Sec (Claimed)
CO2: 181 g/km
From R298 500,00
Car courtesy of Toyota South Africa.
Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of SAGMJ.