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Friday, December 14, 2012

Infiniti FX Vettel Edition (2012 onwards)

Youngest ever triple F1 World Champ Sebastian Vettel tweaks a standard Infiniti into a carbonfibre clad V8 monster SUV. The quality doesn’t match the price tag.

What: Infiniti FX Vettel Edition (2012 onwards)
Where: Reading, United Kingdom
Date: November 2012
Price: £100,800
Available: On sale now

Key rivals: BMW X6 M, Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG, Porsche Cayenne GTS, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport

We like: Looks, exclusivity, V8 soundtrack
We don’t like: Price, efficiency, performance and finish not as good as rivals

Read our review of the Infiniti FX30d
Read our review of the Infiniti FX50

Find out much an Infiniti FX is worth on Auto Trader
On Bing: see images of the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition

Infiniti FX Vettel Edition (© Infiniti)


Hats off to Infiniti. Still relatively unknown in the UK, the luxury arm of Nissan has managed to shift nearly all of its 10-strong allocation of the £100,800 FX Vettel Edition earmarked for Britain already.

Yes, you read that right. £100,800. You do get some interesting extras for your money though. Each buyer gets a carbon-backed iPad to track build progress of their car and a ‘money can’t buy package’. For previous customers that has included being driven around a racetrack by Mr Vettel himself.

Can it possibly be worth a six-figure sum?

The car is based on a standard £58,280 FX 50 S Premium, but receives some lavish carbonfibre addenda, new wheels, a touched up interior and a more powerful engine.

It looks mean. The carbon front bumper, side skirts and rear diffuser are meant to resemble this year’s Red Bull F1 car – the diffuser even wraps around a central fog light inspired by the single-seater’s rear rain light.

If you want the carbonfibre rear spoiler too, that’ll be another £4,800. As it stands then, our FX Vettel Edition test car cost £105,600. Can it possibly be worth a six-figure sum?

The car’s 5.0-litre V8 produces 420hp, an increase of 30hp over the 50 S Premium, with the extra ponies liberated by a freer breathing exhaust.

Fire the engine up and it instantly sounds more potent than the standard car, the eight-cylinder motor barking with a flare of revs as it catches before settling to a purposeful idle.

While 420hp might not seem excessive in a two-tonne-plus SUV, the FX Vettel Edition is deceptively quick. 0-62mph comes up in 5.6 seconds, while the car will run on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.

The seven-speed conventional automatic gearbox handles the performance well, shifting between ratios smoothly and without drama. It helps overtaking, too – just prod the throttle, let the transmission do the rest and anything the lethargic side of a Porsche Boxster S will be dispatched with ease.

Infiniti FX Vettel Edition (© Infiniti)


There’s a switchable mode for the two huge exhausts that protrude from the diffuser, but even in the loudest setting it’s never too loud – inside, at least.

No more than a purposeful rumble penetrates the cabin, though from outside the cacophony of noise can be heard from a fair distance. Infiniti FX Vettel Edition: aggressive looks, aggressive sound.

While the engine is strong, the brakes are a little more suspect. The setup is progressive and easier to use than some hair-trigger brake systems on other 4x4s, but with no cross-drilling or grooving for the discs and over two tonnes of mass to haul down, even on a short run they began to show signs of fade.

Far from being a hunkered down sports SUV, the tweaks applied to this special FX have been created with Mr Vettel’s ideal day-to-day car in mind. Sporty but liveable.

You’ll find plenty of grip to exploit

They’re well judged, too. The bespoke 21-inch BBS wheels and narrow profile tyres look like they’d crash from lump to bump, but saving 3.5kg in unsprung weight per corner, wheel control is excellent.

Sport mode firms things up, but not to the degree where your teeth will be chattering over cat’s eyes.

Unfortunately, the steering doesn’t match the quality of the ride. It’s eager, but there’s little communicated back to the helm as to what the tyres are doing.

If you do take something of a leap of faith, you’ll find there’s plenty of grip to exploit from the reassuring four-wheel drive system, while roll is kept under wraps thanks to the 20mm drop in ride height.

Infiniti FX Vettel Edition (© Infiniti)


There’s plenty in the way of equipment inside the Red Bull employee’s company car: sat-nav, electric seats, an 11-speaker Bose sound system, Bluetooth, climate and cruise control all come fitted as standard.

There are some nice extra touches, too. The nicely adjustable seats give plenty of support and are trimmed in half leather and half Alcantara.

The button layout is confusing

The B-pillars are also wrapped in Alcantara, while contrasting purple stitching holds the upholstery together. It sounds garish, but it’s just right.

The Vettel Edition is subject to the same failings as the standard car it’s based on, however. While every piece of technology you’d want is in there, the way it’s integrated leaves a little to be desired.

The button layout is confusing and interior ergonomics aren’t up to the standard of the competition. For a six-figure price tag, you’d expect better than this. Still, it’s comfortable and refined, with wind noise suppressed well.

If you’re worrying about fuel economy in a £100,800 5.0-litre V8 SUV modified for an F1 superstar, you’re missing the point. Infiniti claims 21.6mpg combined with 307g/km CO2 emissions. Driving sensibly we saw an average of 15.8.

Safety is strong though. The FX gets five stars from Euro NCAP. There’s lane departure warning and prevention, forward collision warning, radar guided cruise control and the usual crop of stability systems. Because Sebastian needs it all, of course…

3 stars

The FX Vettel Edition is a great ploy by the company to raise its profile in its continuing attempts to breakthrough to the premium market. That it’s nearly sold all the vehicles at a price tag of £100k shows it’s moving in the right direction.

But it is an indulgence for the super rich, for those who want to be different. And next to a £100,000 new Range Rover it’s not as well rounded or luxurious. It’s good, but still not quite good enough.

Read our review of the Infiniti FX30d
Read our review of the Infiniti FX50

Find out much an Infiniti FX is worth on Auto Trader
On Bing: see images of the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition

Infiniti FX Vettel Edition information

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