The Infiniti JX35, as the QX60 was called upon its introduction in 2012, had us mighty impressed. So much so that it went on to win a three-way match with the Mercedes-Benz ML 350 and the Audi Q7. We found it to be more comfortable, practical and better kitted out than its rivals, and with that distinctly curvy design, arguably better-looking as well.
But four years down the line, things have changed dramatically in the segment. The ML-Class is now the GLE-Class, which is a huge improvement over the previous model, and the latest generation of the Audi Q7 is a carnival of techno-wizardry. And then there’s the new Volvo XC90, which has moved the game forward in its own minimalist way. So it’s a completely new world out there compared to 2012, and it will be a lot tougher for Nissan’s premium badge to fend competition off now.
There have been changes at Infiniti too. Following the brand’s new naming convention, the JX35 is now the QX60 and has been updated a few times in between. However, these changes aren’t as significant as those seen in the Audi Q5, or even the GLE.
For the current model year, Infiniti has tweaked the QX60’s looks, refreshing the front and the rear. Up front, the SUV gains a larger, more distinctive double-arch grille, and a lower air intake with chrome garnishing integrated into the bumper. The headlights have also been updated, while the new LED tail lights add more character to the rear. Overall, it remains the same curvy, well-detailed SUV that hides its fairly large dimensions well.
Inside, the QX60 remains a true seven-seater, with oodles of space in the first and second rows, and a realistically usable third-row seating. Infiniti has also thoughtfully placed individual AC vents for the passengers in the last row. And the third-row seats can be controlled electrically to free more space for cargo at the back.
While the cabin is roomy and well-appointed with decidedly upscale leather and wood trims, it’s a bit disappointing to see that apart from the materials used, Infiniti has not done much to distinguish the QX60’s interior from that of the Nissan Pathfinder with which it shares a platform. The styling of the dashboard including placement of switchgear is very similar to that of the much cheaper Nissan sibling. A bit more effort to differentiate it would have made it feel more special and upmarket.
The 3.5-litre V6 engine is good for 265bhp and 336Nm of torque, which is also unchanged from what the JX35 had. While it’s a smooth and refined power plant overall, there’s an updated version of the same block that has been announced in other markets for the 2017 model year. That engine puts out 30 horsepower and 30Nm of torque more than the engine available here. Mated to a continuously variable transmission, the V6 offers decent acceleration and successfully keeps the characteristic drone under check up to cruising speeds, although it rears its head when you demand full power.
There’s a Sport mode, which remaps the CVT to mimic the characteristics of a conventional automatic gearbox, but it’s probably best to leave it in Normal most of the time. The suspension offers a good balance between comfort and agility, and in combination with a revised steering system, makes the QX60 feel like a much tauter vehicle than it is.
Although not packed to the brim with gizmos as the new Audi Q7, the QX60 comes equipped with most of the essential safety and convenience features like intelligent cruise control, Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Backup Collision Intervention and Around View Monitor.
The styling enhancements and the updated technology cannot hide the fact that the QX60 is starting to get a bit long in the tooth. While the changes could help Infiniti buy time for a couple of years more, nothing short of a completely new model will do to keep it fighting fit in a segment that has some of the most technologically advanced vehicles in the world. But with prices starting at Dh185,000, the refreshed QX60 continues to be a great choice in the premium seven-seater SUV class.