The Beast From The East
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The UAE is a big market for big cars and even bigger SUVs. Especially SUVs. If installing an Android Car Stereo,that would be good.And it makes sense to own one of these beastly rolling contraptions considering that fuel is relatively cheap and the joint-family system is still of relevance. Thankfully, there is no dearth of options in that segment - from the East you have the formidable Land Cruiser and Lexus LX 570, whilst the West offers the Cadillac Escalade and Ford Expedition, amongst others. But, perhaps the most popular choice in the region is the Nissan Patrol.

This week, we scrutinise the Patrol's high-street cousin - the Infiniti QX80. Being Nissan's luxury arm, we were expecting all the bells and whistles to tag along with the rugged Patrol chassis, but does the mid-cycle refresh make it a more enticing buy?

The QX is equipped with 22" forged aluminium 14-spoke wheels. You also get a full-size spare wheel, which is great, but we dare you to try and change one yourself.

We love the mature toned exterior colours on offer. Customers can opt for black, which complements chrome well, or go with white or very silver, if they care about resale value. But our favourites were the rich blue and deep purple shades.

There is more to the QX80 than pure brawn - it's quite intelligent too. The welcome lighting is impressive; it illuminates entry space when you are in the vicinity and the smart access allows you to enter without a click on the keyfob. If you prefer, you can use the remote engine start function and get the A/C going before you get into the car. It also activates your preferred settings of seating position, audio, climate control, etc. The 'easy entry and exit function' also moves the steering and seats far apart to allow the driver to climb in or out comfortably, but it's still no mean feat to get in.

The centre-console is stacked with hard buttons - an arrangement which may feel dated to some, but is a much more responsive unit compared to Cadillac's high-tech CUE system. One major niggle was that the 8" infotainment screen doesn't do well in sunlight. The screen gets washed out in the glare, but gets better after dark. Menu control is via Infiniti's iDrive-like controller, which can spin, slide and be smudged to get you through every on-screen feature.

Mild off-roading is possible, as the QX80 comes with 235mm of ground clearance and an off-road mode. The AWD system offers an electronic activation of 4H and 4L ratios, which renders massive torque to get you through deep sand and stone clutter.

I really was tempted to see how far the QX80 could stretch itself on a 100L tank but, after a couple of hours of driving, it became obvious that without cylinder deactivation technology or turbochargers, it was going to suffer at the pump. Theoretically, it can sustain a run of 500km and no more. I'd say it's plenty for city driving, but green-activist friends won't be too happy.

FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY

When it comes to air conditioning, Toyota and Nissan lead the way. In the QX80, you have a tri-zone climate control system that maintains separate temperatures for all three rows.

Reading through the QX's feature listing is like reading something like War and Peace - it is filled with every safety-related acronym you can imagine. Here are some of the main ones: adaptive cruise control, distance control, lane departure warning and assist, blind spot alert and assist. More impressive is the around view monitor, which gives you a bird's-eye view of the car, generated by four cameras.

Helping with your luggage hauling duties is a power tailgate that opens up to a 2,700L cargo bay (with both the rear rows folded flat). And if you have more of your home to carry, how about a 2,000kg towing capacity?

Infiniti's long association with Bose continues in the QX with the 5.1-channel 13-speaker Bose Premium Sound system with AM/FM radio, Car DVD with MP3 capability, and a 9.3GB hard drive with USB and AUX-in. We loved the Bose in the G35 sedan of yesteryear and we love it here too. Bluetooth and USB ports are standard.The rear entertainment package puts two 7" colour monitors for your kids in the back, accompanied by two wireless headphones and a wireless remote control, while the centre compartment in the front doubles as a fridge.


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