Infiniti QX80 VS Porsche Cayenne
- Improved looks
- High level of comfort
- Off-road ability
- No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Understeer, bodyroll
- Mighty engine
- Relative fuel economy
- Buttons everywhere
- Perhaps too quiet
The world of upper large luxury SUVs, like Infiniti’s latest-generation QX80, occupies that rarefied air, way up high in the car market, that I’ll never breathe – and that’s okay with me.
You see, as much as I admire these plush vehicles, even if I did have the cash and the inclination to buy one, I’d be so worried about incidental damage to the exterior (shopping trolleys or other drivers’ touch-parking) or children-induced damage to the interior (car sickness, spilled food or drink, blood from sibling punch-ups in the second row) that I’d never be able to fully relax while driving the thing. (Newsflash: I’ve heard from Infiniti that the QX80’s upholstery has a soil-resistant coating.)
These pricey wagons certainly do have their fans though and now, with extensive exterior changes and some interior ones, does the QX80, based on the Y62 Nissan Patrol, actually offer anything to set it apart from other large premium SUVs? Read on.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The Porsche Cayenne is a whopper. It's a big, heavy SUV with tons of room for the family and a badge to keep the neighbours talking. It's also got a planet-bending V8 diesel engine and an air-suspended chassis that has to be felt to be believed.
|Engine Type||4.1L turbo|
The petrol-only QX80, really a Y62 Patrol with shedloads of bling, is a curious beast; a big, bold status-boosting premium SUV, which is much better suited to the US and Middle East markets than ours. However, it has a real premium feel, is very smooth to drive and the exterior and interior changes have improved what has so far been a divisive model for a brand with a small but growing fanbase here. Infiniti sold 83 of the previous QX80 in 2017 and is hoping to move 100 of these new ones in 2018; they have their work cut out for them, but if brand confidence is worth a few sales, who knows, they might even top the ton.
Is the QX80 worth its hefty price-tag, or is it simply too much cash for something that doesn’t even have mainstream connectivity functions?
Porsche's push into the mainstream with Cayenne to take on compatriots Mercedes, BMW and Audi has been hugely successful and the Cayenne was the car that started it all. It's priced well (a BMW X5 M50d is $4000 more), has plenty of equipment and a stack of space but is also mighty handy in the bendy stuff.
It may not be a jacked-up 911 but it's certainly a Porsche. Seven out of ten Porsche customers think so too.
The bulk of the facelifted QX80’s design changes have been to the exterior and include, most noticeably, new LED headlights with a redesigned, sleeker but more aggressive front end than its predecessor’s softer, more rounded curves.
The new QX80’s bonnet is 20mm higher than before and has been extended 90mm; the side steps have been stretched 20mm wider, and the power tailgate has been re-designed to include sharper, thinner, rear LED taillights and the bumper is visually wider.
The whole body has a higher visual centre of gravity, with this latest raft of design shifts giving the SUV a taller, broader, wider and more angular overall appearance.
The interior includes a bigger, chunkier redesigned centre and rear console and those aforementioned premium touches, such as leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, updated upholstery-stitching, semi-aniline quilted leather patterning on door panels and seats, as well as its stainless-steel sill plates, all add to the premium feel.
The QX80 looks better than it did but, as the previous one was pretty hard on the eyes, the 2018 version may still polarise opinion.
There's no getting away from it, the Cayenne looks like a big car because it is. With big wheels and a big gaping grille, the Cayenne has street presence few cars can match. It still not the looker one would expect of the Porsche, but this second-generation version is much better resolved than the earlier cars and is less bloated looking.
Inside is very Porsche, and that includes Stuttgart's very unfortunate obsession with a button for everything. If you think the Macan has lots of buttons, the Cayenne matches the price differential by supplying even more buttons for your buck. This sort of thing makes car journalists squeal because when you've only got a week to learn what they all do, it's a race against time that's difficult to win. Standing back and thinking about it, most owners will be perfectly happy after a week or two.
As for the rest of the interior, it's a lovely place to be. Our brown interior with extra brown overlaid with mahogany (brown) may not be to everyone's taste, but it was certainly luxurious. Everyone gets a comfortable seat and plenty of room in which to enjoy it.
With the added light from the panoramic glass, it's an extremely agreeable cabin, with a great view out. The high console in the front makes you feel like you're sitting low in the chassis (you're not) and the whopping big Porsche steering wheel leaves you in no doubt you're in Porsche.
The QX80 is a big unit – 5340mm long (with a 3075mm wheelbase), 2265mm wide and 1945mm high – and, when you’re seated inside it, it feels like Infiniti designers and engineers must have worked hard to maximise the space afforded them for driver and passengers without seeming to have sacrificed any style or comfort.
And that big open space inside the cabin is easy to get comfortable in. There are soft-touch surfaces everywhere – door panels, arm rests, centre-console edging – and the seats are unsurprisingly soft and supportive but tend towards slippery when there are quick changes in speed or direction, or when tackling steep downhills off-road. (It was fun to watch front-seat passengers slip-slide around inside during the 4WD loop)
If you’re up-front you’re well catered for; big glovebox; overhead sunglasses storage; the centre console now has a roomy smartphone storage area; the twin cupholders have been upsized to cop two 1.3-litre cups with handles (up from one 1.3-litre cup and a 950ml container); the USB port has been moved to the other side of the centre console so it’s easier to get to; the storage area under the front passenger arm-rest is now a 5.4-litre compartment, able to hold up to three upright 1.0-litre bottles or tablet devices.
There are nine cupholders and two bottle-holders in total in the QX80.
There’s a sunroof if you get the urge for natural light from above.
Second-row passengers now get 8.0-inch entertainment screens (up from 7.0-inch) and two additional USB ports.
The tip-up second row seats are easy enough to operate and the third row is power 60/40 split-fold-to-flat and reclining.
There is a 12V outlet in the cargo area.
Price and features
Pricing has not changed: there is one model and it still costs $110,900 before on-roads and that price does not include paint other than the standard Black Obsidian; metallic paint is $1500 extra. Changes over and above the previous model’s standard features list include 22-inch 18-spoke forged alloy wheels (up from 20-inch), Infiniti’s InTouch 8.0-inch colour touchscreen (up from 7.0-inch), new Espresso Burl coloured trim, new chrome finishes all-round, updated upholstery-stitching everywhere, quilted leather patterning on seats, new headlights, LED foglights and more. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
The Cayenne Diesel S kicks off at a startlingly reasonable (hey, it's all relative) $144,800. Perhaps against type, there's a lot of stuff packed into the Cayenne and you could cheerfully go without ticking a single box on the breathtakingly long options list.
The standard car carries a 14-speaker stereo, 20-inch alloys, power everything including steering column, dual-zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera, keyless entry, electronic dampers, hill descent control, cruise control, cooled glovebox, satnav, bi-xenon active headlights, auto lights and wipers, partial leather seats, sunroof, air suspension and tyre pressure monitoring.
On top of the standard features, ours had a full leather interior ($7690), Yachting Mahogany Interior ($6590 and is what it sounds like), Yacht Mahogany heated wood steering wheel ($1450, ditto), 21-inch wheels ($5610), soft close doors ($1790), black roof rails ($1390), panoramic glass roof ($1190), saddle brown seat belts ($1090), compass ($760), Porsche logos on the headrests ($450) and monochrome black exterior package ($450). This made a grand total of $173,300.
A purely subjective opinion: the mahogany you can probably do without, along with the brown seat belts. That's not a comment on the quality, either – in isolation, it's very pretty wood.
Porsche calls its entertainment system "Porsche Communication Management". Nestled between the air-con outlets, Porsche claims that it's a high resolution system, but it is starting to look its age (the second-gen Cayenne launched in 2010). The screen is good enough, though, and responds quickly to the touch. The 14-speaker stereo is a belter, with tons of power and good bass filling the big cabin and the Bluetooth performance is above average.
Engine & trans
The previous generation’s 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine (298kW@5800rpm and 560Nm@4000rpm) remains, as does the seven-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift control. It also has Infiniti’s all-mode 4WD system, which offers Auto, 4WD High and 4WD Low settings and it has terrain appropriate modes (sand, snow, rocks) able to be dialled in.
The Diesel S packs a 4.1-litre V8 twin-turbo diesel producing an impressive 283kW and a mind-boggling 850Nm of torque. This will whisk all 2.2 tonnes plus passengers to 100km/h in 5.4 seconds and a claimed fuel usage of 8.3L/100km on the combined cycle.
You won't be astonished to learn we were using fuel at a higher rate than that, but with mostly city plus a good highway blast, we saw 11.3L/100km. Driving all four wheels is an eight-speed automatic transmission which has the added fuel-saving of stop-start.
The QX80 is claimed to use 14.8L/100km. We reckon that fuel-consumption figure is very optimistic and if QX80 owners are partial to towing boats – as Infiniti reckons they are – or if they tackle some 4WDing, then that figure is going to climb much higher quite swiftly.
In the world of luxury SUVs big is king and this thing is definitely on the chunky side of big, but it doesn’t often feel too cumbersome for its own good, or too bulky to steer in and out of Melbourne’s bustling morning traffic with precision.
During this event, we did a fair chunk of driving – highway, country roads, gravel roads and a decent bit of 4WDing – and, surprise, surprise, it did pretty well, especially when things of this ilk usually exhibit the ride and handling of an old poorly-sprung couch on wheels.
It did, however, feel top-heavy at times and revealed substantial body-roll when pushed around corners at speed or even during some sections of slow, bouncy off-roading, so I’d be reluctant to experience what it would be like without hydraulic body motion control. However, we were willing to forgive it any rocking-and-rolling when that healthy V8 growl kicked in as we gave it the boot.
The 22-inch tyre-and-wheel combination is not the way I’d go if I was going to use the QX80 for any off-road forays but, having said that, we did fine on them, at road tyre pressures, over a decent off-road loop.
It has 246mm of ground clearance and 24.2 (approach), 24.5 (departure) and 23.6 (ramp-over) angles.
The QX80 has coil springs all-round and it was only ever caught out when it thumped through a couple of surprise potholes along a dirt road.
This Infiniti model has a claimed tare mass of 2783kg, but you wouldn’t have known it was that many kegs because it powered up steep and slippery bush tracks, through deep muddy ruts, over greasy rocks and through a few knee-deep mud holes with ease. It was as easy as pulling up, switching your terrain modes and dialling in your setting: 4WD High, 4WD Low or Auto. It has a locking rear diff and very capable hill descent control, which we tested on a few rather steep sections of track.
It’s nice to see vehicle manufacturers unafraid to put their off-roaders, even their pricey luxury ones, through a decent off-road loop at launch because it shows they have confidence in its capabilities.
Obviously, badge, output and heritage promise a great deal, which the Cayenne does its level-best to deliver. It's clearly not meant to be a high-riding 911 and those who are disappointed to read that should probably pop off and study physics for a bit.
For all its heresy, the diesel engine is a cracker, sending the Cayenne off the line with a hearty shove and very little racket. The 850Nm figure means the SUV will mince just about anything in the gears. Not even V12 Ferraris have this kind of torque.
With all-wheel drive and air suspension, the Cayenne corners mostly flat but also rides beautifully. It's an impressively comfortable car in all conditions and with the lazy diesel V8, you can drive it anyway you like.
For the most part, it just needs a toe waved towards the throttle. Get serious, though, and the huge rubber will keep you ripping along all but the tightest of bends. Couple that with a dynamic driving mode that speeds up the shifts, adds sensible weight to the steering and gives you a bit of rear-wheel drive playfulness, the Cayenne is impressively agile.
The QX80 does not have an ANCAP safety rating. Safety tech as standard includes blind spot warning, intelligent parking system, forward emergency braking, lane departure prevention (incorporating lane departure warning), distance control assist and predictive forward collision warning, Infiniti/Patrol intelligent rear view mirror (which can display video from a camera mounted in the upper rear windshield) and more. It has two ISOFIX points in the second-row seats.