Infiniti FX: Where Sports Car and Suv Meet
The importance of the European market to Infiniti was underlined by the choice of the Geneva Motor Show, in March, as the venue for the world debut of the all-new FX range.
Geneva saw the debut of the stunning V8-powered FX50S and a few weeks later, Infiniti Europe announced it would be joined by the V6-powered FX37 GT and FX37S models to create a three-model line-up at the top of the Infiniti range.
FX is a radical expression of sport and style, offering exceptional levels of power, refinement, safety and driving exhilaration. A fusion of sports car and SUV, with breathtaking design, sports car-like proportions and an advanced platform, the FX is a showcase of Infiniti's design and technology leadership.
At a glance
* Fusion of sports car and SUV * 320 PS 3.7-litre V6 or potent 390 PS 5.0-litre V8 * Standard advanced seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shift * Intelligent All-Wheel Drive * Suspension with active Continuous Damping Control (CDC) * Class leading handling * Standard Rear Active Steer (RAS) on FX50S * Lightest SUV in its class * Advanced features including Around View Monitor * Three versions available: o FX37 GT o FX37S o FX50S
Overview A genuine fusion of sports car and SUV, the FX's dramatic styling sets it apart from the crowd. Built on Infiniti's FM (front-midship) platform, FX blends sports car proportions with the character of a 4x4. That means a long bonnet and wheelbase, short overhangs and a coupé-like roofline, with the stance and strength of an SUV.
This, the second generation FX, follows Infiniti's well-defined product strategy, by being inviting in every dimension. Quick to react to driver input, comfortable under all conditions… and extremely rapid, FX is a true Infiniti.
Infiniti's designers and engineers' overall goal in its development was to enhance its ‘sports car ability' while adding refinement – without compromising either side of the equation. The creators of the new FX also wanted to give the vehicle a more ‘human' feel, despite its mechanical strengths, by integrating the latest technology with owners' lifestyles.
The new FX50S is designed to be highly adaptive to both the driver and driving conditions, utilizing a long list of Infiniti technologies and systems, including Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL) engine technology, Adaptive Shift Control, suspension with active Continuous Damping Control (CDC), Rear Active Steer, Around View Monitor, Intelligent Cruise Control (offering Full Speed Range feature) and Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA).
"FX is the perfect range topper for Infiniti. Exceptionally capable under all conditions, FX makes a real statement. Like the other Infiniti products being introduced to the European market, it will appeal to individuals and free thinkers who never take the default option of all," says Jim Wright, Vice President, Infiniti Europe.
FX in detail
Exterior styling The new Infiniti FX further develops the breathtaking exterior styling and sports car proportions that helped the original stand out from all other performance luxury crossovers on the market. The FX blends the substantial lower body of an SUV with the long bonnet, stretched wheelbase, short front and rear overhangs, low overall height and elegant upper body more commonly found on sports cars – conveying its strong performance personality and breakthrough design architecture at a single glance.
The FX's design starts with a new front-end appearance, led by an Infiniti signature double-arch front grille, standard fog lamps and Bi-Xenon headlights.
Compared to the original, the front wheels of the new generation FX have been moved 35 mm further forward and the front track has been widened by 50 millimeters – providing an even more pronounced performance stance.
Distinctive side air vents have been added behind the front wheels. The vents are functional, allowing air to flow from inside the engine compartment to outside the vehicle, reducing high under-bonnet air pressure. The vents reduce front end lift by five percent for improved high speed stability.
The Infiniti FX's aggressive silhouette is highlighted by a strong front-to-rear shoulder line, ‘taut canopy' greenhouse with chromed window frames, rearward-sloping roofline, integrated rear spoiler and polished roof rails. At the rear, the FX's simple, bold appearance features LED taillights that extend beyond the body to help create aerodynamic down force and large dual exhaust outlets with chrome finishers.
The FX's coefficient of drag has been improved to 0.35 from 0.37, with engineers finessing even the smallest details to help manage airflow, including the front bumper sides, rear spoiler angle and taillight shape.
Interior environment The Infiniti FX's sporty interior is designed to combine a driver-oriented cockpit/command centre with a warm, modern, comfortable passenger environment – all wrapped in rich, natural materials. The high-tech interior design includes an Infiniti signature ‘double-wave' instrument panel and white-and-violet electroluminescent gauges.
FX comes with a new front seat design offering power adjustment on both seats. Covered in a special quilted leather pattern, the front seats are also heated and ventilated for both driver and passenger.
Standard on the FX is a new Automatic Driving Position System, which moves the seat, steering wheel and outside mirrors adaptively into the correct position. This system allows the driver to change the seat position while driving and keep the same viewpoint and relationship between the steering column and driver's shoulder position.
The FX interior offers white-and-violet ‘Fine Vision' electroluminescent gauges with gear-like rings on the instruments, standard 7-inch multi-information display monitor (8-inch on FX50S) and signature Infiniti analogue clock. The centre console is available in a black quartz finisher or special Curly Maple wood trim, inspired by classical violins, giving a sense of warmth throughout.
The FX interior also offers a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, along with front door pockets, front seatback pockets, dual front and rear cup holders, locking glove compartment and four assist grips.
Engine and powertrain At the heart of the FX50S lies a brand new engine which makes it debut on this model – an advanced 5.0-litre V8 that is mounted low in the chassis to help lower the FX50's centre of gravity. The engine design includes twin symmetrical air intakes, microfinished crankshaft, lightweight pistons, super-silent cam drive chains and an electrically driven cooling fan to help optimize performance.
The goals for the development of the FX50S's V8 started with outstanding power output – 287 kW (390 PS) and 500 Nm of torque – a high rev limit, a powerful engine sound from a specially tuned exhaust and improved fuel economy over the previous generation FX45. Even small details were evaluated in designing the new engine, including control of oil mist density in crankcase for reduced friction
One of the keys to the new V8's impressive performance is the adoption of Infiniti's patented Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) valve control technology. The VVEL system continuously adjusts valve event and lift amounts, enabling higher fuel efficiency with higher torque and improved emissions over conventional variable valve designs. The VVEL intake camshafts, which feature continuously variable lift control teamed with a Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control system (CVTC), allow for a 6,800 rpm redline and a high compression ratio of 10.9:1.
Performance is breathtaking: top speed is limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), with 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) taking just 5.8 seconds. Over the combined cycle, the FX50 uses 13.0 l/100kms (21.7 mpg) and produces 310 g/km of CO2. The engine is fully compliant with Euro 5 emission level requirements.
As the nomenclature suggest, the FX37 variants are powered by the new 3.7-litre version of Nissan's VQ engine family also found in the EX37 and G37 models. Regularly honoured in independent awards the world over, the twin cam 24 valve V6 produces 235 kW (320 PS) and an impressive 360 Nm of torque at 5,200 rpm.
Among its many features, the lightweight aluminium engine features a bed-plate construction. A technique that has been used in motor racing for many years, the resulting two-part construction of the cylinder block is more rigid than a single piece casting. Among engine specialists, this configuration signifies a high-performance sporting engine which is uncompromisingly designed for the highest strength and reliability.
Other benefits include reduced vibration levels and higher engine speeds to be reached consistently without damage.
The VQ37 unit also features VVEL technology to optimise efficiency and, in turn, the balance between power, response, fuel efficiency and emissions. Precise mapping of the ECU, meanwhile, helps the engine provide a progressive ‘swell' of power and torque, providing a ‘building wave' of acceleration rather than a peaky power delivery.
It gives FX37 a top speed of 233 km/h (145 mph) with 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) taking 6.8 seconds. Fuel economy over the combined cycle is 12.0 l/100kms (23.5 mpg) while the CO2 figure is 284 g/km. The engine is fully compliant with Euro 5 emission level requirements.
Standard on all FX versions is Infiniti's new seven-speed automatic gearbox with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC). With its additional forward gear, the new transmission has a wider spread of ratios which benefits both fuel consumption and drivability. The seventh speed is effectively an overdrive ratio, returning improved fuel economy on a steady throttle without compromising in-gear flexibility for overtaking. The standard magnesium paddle shifter enable drivers to shift the transmission without releasing their hands from the steering wheel, helping maintain stability for the driver when accelerating or decelerating on winding roads.
Shift points can be tuned to keep the engine in the largest part of the torque curve, ensuring there is always a healthy reserve when the driver wants to overtake. The linked ASC system switches between three different programs depending on input from the major control systems throughout the car.
Chassis and driving dynamics Under the FX's assertive exterior is an equally advanced body structure. FX uses the rigid FM platform architecture used on the Infiniti G37 and EX37. The FM platform offers sports car-like front-to-rear weight balance for exceptional handling.
Additional development was undertaken to reduce weight and enhance body strength. For example, the FX's aluminum front and rear door panels, which have the same strength and stiffness of conventional steel doors, are 20 kilograms lighter (total for all four doors), allowing the FX to maintain a power-to-weight ratio that is among the best in class.
The new FX's body is also 1.6 times more resistant to twisting and 3.4 times more resistant to bending than the previous generation FX design. As well as boosting handling, the rigid body benefits to NVH performance.
The new double-wishbone front suspension design, similar to that found on the G37 and EX37, replaces the previous generation FX's front strut-type suspension. The suspension's upper and lower A-arms help provide superior control of a wheel's motion, especially when the suspension compresses and extends, providing more travel than the previous strut design. The net result is a better ride and improved handling.
At the rear, FX uses the multi-link design from the previous generation, refined to weigh less and provide more wheel travel – again for improved ride and handling. A lightweight, high-strength steel rear subframe isolates the FX's body and its passengers from road noise and vibrations. Its compact design benefits rear passenger and load space. Large diameter anti-roll bars can be found front and rear.
The suspension system also incorporates special dual flow pass shock absorber technology with rebound springs for responsive yet comfortable ride and firm, tight handling.
FX50S and FX37S suspension feature standard active Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system with special electronically controlled shock absorbers. Unlike conventional fixed damping force shock absorbers, suspension with active CDC takes the input from a variety of sensors and continuously alters the damping of the dampers to provide optimal ride and handling. The system features a driver-selectable switch with two settings – Auto and Sport – allowing the driver to control the valving levels.
FX50S's standard Rear Active Steer system is the first of its kind available in an SUV. Unlike passive rear steering systems, this design features precise, electronic motor-driven control to turn the rear wheels up to one degree, helping generate a nimble steering response at low speeds and enhance stability at high speeds.
Rear Active Steer moves the FX50S's rear wheels in accordance with steering input and vehicle speed, rather than passively following the front wheels. The result is a vehicle that is able to change direction with improved quickness, precision and stability.
The new FX maintains its small turning radius (5.6m) despite its larger wheel and tyre package. Infiniti engineers focused on improving steering feedback from the advanced speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion power steering system and reduced play in the steering mechanism for more direct vehicle response to steering input.
An essential element of its crossover role is the adoption of Infiniti's ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) All-Wheel Drive system which uses an active torque distribution management system with an active centre clutch for smooth starts, greater grip and better manoeuvrability on slippery surfaces without compromising the vehicle's rear-wheel drive performance characteristics on dry roads.
By constantly adjusting the power – sending anything from 50 per cent to the front, to up to 100 per cent to the rear – the system generates greater control without sacrificing sportiness and true performance dynamics.
Unlike permanent 4x4 systems, which deaden the steering feel and dull the driving dynamics, the electromagnetic torque transfer at the heart of ATTESA E-TS Intelligent AWD's system permits an element of oversteer for a more sporting drive.
Intelligent All-Wheel Drive works with Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and the Limited-Slip Differential, constantly shifting torque as FX encounter changes in the road conditions when, within milliseconds, it will apportion power to the wheels with the most grip.
The system is most active off the highway. As FX navigates snow, sand or mud, power is continuously apportioned to the wheel or wheels with the best traction.
Secure braking performance is provided by ventilated disc brakes front and rear with Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). An integral part of Intelligent Cruise Control (standard on FX50S, optional on FX37 and FX37S), when IBA detects that a collision with a car in front is imminent it first warns the driver and then brakes the car itself.
The braking system features four-piston opposed front/two-piston opposed rear calipers, similar to those found on the new Infiniti G37S, and large brake discs (355x32 mm front/350x20 mm rear). Brake dimensions and high thermal capacity have been tailored specifically to European driving needs, providing a secure and stable feeling at very high speeds and high deceleration rates.
FX50S and FX37S feature standard metallic-finish six-spoke cast-alloy 9.5J x 21-inch wheels made by Enkei. These wheels are created using a special type of ultra-lightweight casting and are as light as a competitor's 18-inch wheels. They are mounted with 265/45R21 performance tyres. FX37 has 20-inch alloy wheels with all-season tyres as standard.
Standard and optional equipment As expected with an Infiniti, FX offers a full complement of standard equipment including seven speed automatic transmission, Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, six airbags and speed sensitive power steering.
Every FX also features the Infiniti I-Key with smart access and push button starter. As soon as the vehicle identifies a pre-programmed I-Key in the vicinity, the door can be opened and the car started without the key needing to leave a pocket or handbag.
Personal settings for the driver's seat, steering column and exterior mirrors can be programmed into the key so that the key holder won't have to reposition anything if the car has been driven by anyone else.
Also standard are darkened rear privacy glass, wood interior finish, a six-disc and seven-speaker CD audio system with an RCA AUX-in jack socket for MP3 players, rear view camera with front and rear parking sensors and 7-inch colour display, Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, cruise control, power seats (10-way driver's; 8-way passenger's), auto-dimming rear view mirror, automatic lights and wipers, electric glass sunroof and integrated fog lamps. The leather-trimmed steering wheel incorporates controls for the audio system, cruise control and telephone.
Thanks to the standard Adaptive Front-light System (AFS) the Bi-Xenon headlamps are linked to steering inputs and automatically follow the path of the front wheels to provide a wide spread of light around corners and on winding roads.
Like all Infiniti models sold in Europe, FX offers standard "Scratch Shield" paint. A special highly elastic resin has been combined with a conventional clearcoat to increase the paint's flexibility allowing the finish to exhibit up to five times fewer scratches that a conventional clearcoat when exposed to the same conditions. When exposed to heat, "Scratch Shield" paint repairs fine scratches, restoring painted surfaces close to their original state.
The FX37S version adds active Continuous Damping Control, 14-way power adjustment for the driver's seat, front sports seats and 21-inch alloy wheels. The FX37S and FX50 can be easily indentified by their dark chrome exterior trim and smoked headlamps.
Options on the FX37 models include black lacquer and aluminium trim, Multimedia pack (DVD navigation, voice recognition, BOSE sound system), Around View Monitor, metallic paint and a temporary spare wheel (replacing standard tire repair kit). The Around View Monitor uses small cameras mounted at the front, rear and in the door mirrors of FX to project an all-round view of potential obstacles on every side of the vehicle. A natural extension of Infiniti's rear view parking camera, the Around View Monitor uses the standard seven inch colour screen to display a bird's eye view of the car as it parks, enabling the driver to negotiate a tight parking spot without mishap.
The state of the art audio system available with the Multimedia pack is the result of a long term relationship with Bose® corporation. The acoustic effect of nearly every interior detail was analyzed. The 11-speaker Bose® sound system is custom designed specifically for the unique acoustics of the Infiniti EX37 cabin to help reproduce music with clarity and spaciousness. Bose® and Infiniti engineers have worked together in order to cleverly integrate the bass module in the spare wheel, hence listeners can enjoy music with depth and presence while optimizing load space.
Also available is Intelligent Cruise Control operating in "Full Speed Range". ICC system uses brake, throttle and laser sensors to help maintain a set distance between FX and the car in front. The software allows ICC to work from 0km/h to 180km/h thanks to the "Full Speed Range" feature.
FX50S wants for virtually nothing. The multimedia pack (with a larger 8 inch display) and Around View Monitor are standard, as is the BOSE sound system. Intelligent Cruise Control and Intelligent Brake Assist are also standard as is Active Rear Steer. The only options are metallic paint, the black lacquer/aluminium interior trim and a temporary spare.
Safety The FX's enhanced FM platform Zone Body Construction is designed to help protect occupants in a collision by helping to absorb crash energy through use of front and rear crushable zones.
In a high-speed frontal collision, for example, the crushable zone crumples while the engine is designed to move under the occupant compartment. This has the effect of expanding the crushable zone, thereby helping to reduce deceleration g-force and simultaneously helping minimize cabin deformation, especially in the lower leg area. In offset impacts, the body construction helps decrease the amount of cabin deformation. Special high-resistance steel is used for light weight and improved strength.
As with all Infiniti vehicles, significant time was spent to ensure excellent passenger safety. The first-generation FX received 5 Stars for all measures in the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) testing, and the new second-generation FX is expected to offer similar or better occupant protection.
Other standard safety features found on the FX50S include a seat belt reminder system; airbags for driver and front passenger with front hip-thorax side airbags and front-to-rear curtain airbag for rear passengers. Also standard are 3-point front seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters, front seat Active Head Restraints.
The FX50S also features a breakaway brake pedal and double-wall bulkhead construction to help reduce lower leg injuries and a breakaway construction of the propeller shaft (connected with the engine-drop function).
A Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) – standard on FX50S – uses pressure sensors with transmitters mounted inside each wheel, which transmit data by radio wave to a control module, sending tyre pressure information to a center display indicator on the FX50S's information panel. A warning lamp and display indicates when a low tyre pressure condition (less than 75 percent of normal pressure) is detected.
Quality Like all Infiniti products, quality is a central to the success of FX. On the Tochigi production line in Japan every vehicle – not just every tenth – is laser scanned to ensure that panel gaps are within prescribed limits.
During the design and development phase, new models are exhaustively tested not just at Infiniti's Hokkaido proving ground but also at the Tochigi and Motegi test and race complexes in Japan. Infiniti also has a vast 12.34 million square metre hot weather-testing base in Arizona.
Testing every Infiniti in the harshest of conditions and over thousands and thousands of kilometers ensures the durability and peace of mind that buyers can expect from the products.
Conclusion "As a range topping model, FX50S delivers everything it promises and will appeal to those who must have the best. FX37 is perhaps even more significant for Europe and we expect it to account for as much as 80 per cent of FX sales," says Nicolas Tschann, Product Marketing Manager, Infiniti Europe. "By combining excellent handling and punchy performance with genuine luxury and SUV practicality, FX37 will appeal to customers who really appreciate quality and individuality."