First Look: 2009 Infiniti FX50
March 4, 2008
Infiniti chose an odd place to introduce its second-generation FX model. Small, BMW X3-size crossovers are all the rage in Europe, so it seems Geneva would have been more appropriate for the EX35. Nevertheless, the FX50 made its debut today with revised sheetmetal and an all-new engine, with which the premium Japanese automaker hopes to take on the propeller badge in its home market.
The FX50's overall length is unchanged from the old model, but it looks longer, thanks to a lower, sleeker nose. Good thing for that, and the now luxury-car-requisite side vents in the front fenders, or the new FX would be another case of Nissan and Infiniti design evolution over expression. At first glance, it could have been the old FX up here on the stand in an offsite launch in Geneva, especially in its Buickcentric honey-nut ale color. Like virtually every new Nissan and Infiniti introduced in the last three years, it has all-new sheetmetal -- much of it now made from aluminum to save weight -- without looking all new. Still, the sleeker nose is a nice touch, a good sign that someone high up in Nissan management is paying attention.
The X5-sized FX, in fact, ditches its 4.5-liter V-8 for an all-new 5.0-liter engine, rated at 390 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque in Europe (U.S. power figures are not yet final). The FX50's new engine features an infinite variable valve lift that Infiniti says puts BMW's spring-actuated Valvetronic to shame. This is part of Infiniti's European launch, four years in the making, that aims to put G37s, EX and FX models on the road (Europe will have to wait for the next-generation M35 and M50, thanks to problems fitting Euro-compliant engines in the current car's engine bay) where only Bimmers don't fear to tread. Anyway, the G37 sedan and coupe's V-6 redlines at 7500 rpm, and the FX50's V-8 spins to 7000 with the new variable valve system.
All engines here are mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission, another key to meeting European crazy-strict CO2 standards. The FX50 features sports car touches, such as paddle shifters on the steering column and automatic rev-matching throttle blips on downshifts, via Infiniti's Adaptive Shift Control. The ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split -- yes, that's a mouthful) four-wheel-drive system is also fitted, allowing up to 100 percent of the FX50's power to be sent to the rear wheels when all-wheel drive is not needed.
Infiniti has also revised the suspension in the new FX, retaining the multilink rear setup of the current generation (though with more travel and less weight), but swapping struts for G37-inspired double-wishbones up front for improved feel and control. Much of the FX's suspension has been crafted from aluminum for high strength with low weight.
Other new features include the EX's wacky Around View Monitor, plus intelligent cruise control, intelligent brake assist, four-wheel active steering and Scratch Shield paint. A Bose stereo and 21-inch wheels are standard equipment. The new FX50 will hit U.S. roads this June, with a 3.7-liter V-6-powered FX37 to follow. Europe will have to wait for October before Infiniti begins to stock up showrooms there.