In most parts of the world, super-large SUVs are often likened to dim-witted, clumsy dinosaurs teetering on the brink of extinction. With cities getting more clogged up, environmentalists getting louder and petrol reserves diminishing, it’s inevitable that Darwinism will play out in the motoring world, too.
But not here in the Middle East — it is an exceptional market where 4X4 leviathans roam the streets like an apex predator. Drive around in the Infiniti QX 56 and watch in amusement as other cars frantically leap out of the way the moment it looms in their rear-view mirror. Our white long-termer looks menacing enough, but in black its sight will make Civics and Tiidas weep inconsolably.
At first glance, those drooping headlights and swollen bonnet may appear more awkward than aggressive, like a confused Beluga whale, but the ebbing and flowing curves give it a distinct profile compared to other boxy 4X4s. The unconventional styling grows on you and I’d go as far as to say that it’s a handsome thing — in a super-sized sort of way.
It’s got a big brain, too. There’s a gamut of smart technology under the skin. It knows when you stray out of your lane; it knows when there’s a car in your blind-spot; on the highway it can keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front and it knows when you’re about to have a crash. Heck, it even comes with its own carrier pigeon that follows you around with a camera to beam overhead images to make parking easier.
OK, it’s actually four wide-angle cameras mounted on the grille, tailgate and under the wing mirrors, that process the visual information and display a virtual image of the QX, but it’s all very nifty. Mechanically, it gets a clever hydraulic system, which independently controls suspension travel in all four corners, improving ride comfort.
The seven-speed auto matches the engine speed with manual downshifts. Finally, and equally noteworthy, it has an automatic rear levelling system that prevents the back from sagging and maintains uniform ground clearance when you’re off-roading or carrying heavy cargo. So there, the QX 56 is not a hulking dullard that trips over its feet and laughs at its own flatulence. Take that Darwin.
A bad week for the Infiniti. We manage to scrape the front bumper while driving out of an underground car park. Fuel economy is ruinously poor.
Highs: Great engine
Lows: The sheer size of it makes it difficult to manoeuvre, thirsty
The QX 56 is a massive car that makes driving out of tight spaces a jaw-tightening affair. On the upside it’s very spacious.
Highs: Superb ride, faster than you expect, loads of space
Lows: Huge and very, very thirsty