First Drive - Infiniti QX70

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Reading much of the motoring press over the past couple of months you could very easily believe that the first ever five-door Sporting SUV from outside Germany is the Jaguar F-Pace. The F-Pace is, by all accounts although we haven't driven it yet, incredibly accomplished but what alternatives are there out there? Well, recently I had a short time at the wheel of a competitor that's been around for quite a while - the Infiniti QX70.

The front of the QX70 divides opinion - awesome or awful? I like it... 

The front of the QX70 divides opinion - awesome or awful? I like it... 

The QX70 has been around longer than its name as it was originally launched in  2008 as the FX, sharing its platform with the Nissan 370Z. When the letter/number designations of the Infiniti range were rationalised in 2014 the model gained the "QX" designation to show it was an SUV and the "70" to donate its position in the range independent of power plant.

If you take a group and ask them their thoughts on the QX70s looks then there is bound to be disagreement. This is a "Marmite" vehicle and the design, under former Isuzu design chief Shiro Nakamura, is as controversial as the VehiCROSS he and his team penned then. Unlike the VehiCROSS though the QX70 has plenty of space for five plus their luggage. The cabin is at least the quality of its German competitors and the purple stitching contrasting with the black leather is a classy touch. Personally I found is a cosseting, comfortable place but, as a former G37S owner I had an easy familiarity with the controls and their placement so needed no time to make myself comfortable.

Infiniti QX70 interior

Infiniti QX70 interior

Over the years the QX70  been available with 3.5 and 3.7 litre V6 petrol engines as well as a 5.0 V8 - most notably in the 414bhp Sébastien Vettel special edition that also gained extra wings and trim. The version I drove had the 3.0 V6 Diesel engine shared with some versions of the Nissan Navara and the Renault Laguna via the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The engine has been around since 2009 and is the weakest part of the QX70's package as, although it puts out the better part of 240bhp it can sound clattery at low speeds and idle. When you're above town speeds though it settles down to a refined cruise. In all versions there's a super-slick 7-speed gearbox and the very best paddle shifters I've ever experienced - leather edged cast magnesium...

With only a couple of laps of Millbrook's hill route - a few miles of tortured, hilly Tarmac intended to throw most British A and B-road surfaces in front of a car - to judge by, the QX70 seems to absorb the majority of the imperfections with very little harshness reaching the cap in despite the humungous 21" wheels and shallow profile tyres. The QX70 has very little body roll in hard cornering and never lost grip when driven within the limits imposed on us at Millbrook. I can't comment on its ride in town.

Despite the model's age, should it be on buyer's shopping lists? Well, if you mostly do long drives and want the effortless torque of a big diesel engine then it certainly should bear consideration, particularly if you just like "something different". If you're looking for a "town SUV" I'd suggest seeking out either a petrol engined specimen and living with what could be eye-watering fuel consumption or looking towards a Lexus RX450h or an X5 xDrive40e. That sounds rather harsh, but the QX70 really is a likeable, competent vehicle that I'd be delighted to own.

Prices for the Infiniti QX70 start from £43,630.