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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


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.