David MottonSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Tow cars’ written by David Motton
In case the name is unfamiliar, Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand, rather like Lexus is to Toyota. However, while most Lexus models look conservative and understated, Infiniti's designers go for a more assertive personality.
Take the new flagship, the FX Vettel Edition. That’s Vettel as in the three-time Formula 1 champion. Infiniti is one of the sponsors of Vettel’s Red Bull Racing team, and invited the German F1 driver to put his stamp on one of its range. He chose the FX50. With 385bhp it’s a very quick car already, but changes to the exhaust let loose an extra 29bhp. Lighter, 21-inch wheels are fitted, the suspension is lowered by 20mm, and there are styling changes inside and out, including plenty of F1-inspired carbon fibre.
It’s a seriously quick car and handles with surprisingly agility for a car the porky side of two tonnes. Unsurprisingly, the ride is firm but it’s not as teeth-grindingly stiff as I’d expected.
However, you have to be a serious Vettel fan to part with £100,800 when the regular FX50 costs £58,280. That’s £1466 for each extra horse power.
I’ll down a bottle of Aqua Kem if I ever see a Vettel Edition on a campsite, but the FX30d makes a much more plausible tow car. Prices start from £46,865, so you need to be very well off rather than stinking rich to afford one. With a kerbweight of 2175kg and a legal towing limit of 2200kg there’s little the FX30d can’t tow, and with 405lb ft of torque it won’t have any trouble hauling a big twin-axle caravan up to speed.
However, 31.4mpg is poor for a diesel SUV, even one as quick as this, and it’s hard to understand how a car of this size can be so cramped in the back.
I preferred the M35h, Infiniti’s petrol-electric hybrid executive saloon. The car has an appealing split personality. It’s in the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest accelerating production hybrid, but driven gently it can purr along in near silence running on electric power alone.
Plenty of hybrids shut off their petrol engine at low speeds, but the M35h is the first car I’ve driven which switched off its engine at 60mph on a dual carriageway.
The cabin is an improvement over the FX’s, with less obvious evidence of switches and knobs from the Nissan parts bin. The rear seats are more accommodating, although the 350-litre boot is small.
Unlike some hybrids, the M35h is homologated for towing, with a respectable 1500kg limit. With so much power and the instant torque of the electric motor, I can’t see it having any difficulty pulling a caravan of that weight.
If you want to avoid the obvious prestige brands, Infiniti is worth a look. With more economical models featuring four-cylinder diesel engines coming next year, Infiniti won't be such an unfamiliar name for long.