I have always admired Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan, mainly because they are not afraid of innovative design that pushes the envelope to the maximum to create vehicles that truly stand out from the crowd.
This bold approach has made Infiniti one of the fastest growing premium brands in the Middle East and their rapid rise is not about to ease off with an aggressive product offensive planned for the coming year with more exciting new models to be unveiled.
Four years ago I actually bought an Infiniti FX50S a brilliantly styled SUV that was powered by a magnificent five-litre V8 engine and it served me well until I decided to downsize and sold it.
During the time I owned that car I also test drove the JX which was launched in 2013 as a luxury crossover aimed squarely at families and I guess for that reason, and having been used to driving the sportier FX50S, I found it a little dull.
Since then Infiniti have rebadged their fleet and the FX50 is now the QX70 and the JX has been reborn as the QX60 after a significant redesign which has given this vehicle a completely new look, particularly from the front. It was recently launched at a glittering ceremony in Dubai, along with the new QX50 and we will talk about that car another time.
The Crossover sector has proved to be particularly fashionable in the UAE and continues to grow with Infiniti selling a considerable number of them last year and are clearly intent on building on that success with the QX60.
It still resembles the JX, particularly from the side, but the front of the vehicle is now far more distinctive thanks for a major facelift which is a triumph of design.
Sitting on very nice 20-inch fivespoke aluminium alloy wheels, it now looks far more sporty with a sophisticated persona which will definitely appeal to those looking for a vehicle that can seat up to seven but doesn’t look like a glorified bus.
At the business end the QX60 has a redesigned double-arch grille, flanked by bi-xenon headlamps and there is much greater use of LED lights including new DRLs and front fogs. The side view remains streamlined and the rear has been upgraded to give it a more refined look. The result is an extremely distinctive and appealing vehicle that offers comfort, distinction and enough space inside to cater for a small tribe.
There is clearly an emphasis on creating a prestigious looking vehicle and the interior is no exception with fabulously comfortable leather seats, maple wood trims and thin-chrome accents. The vehicle is also fully loaded with the latest automotive technology with safety a priority.
It was already pretty impressive but it now has Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, to add to the existing driver assists like Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Backup Collision Intervention and a 3600 around view monitor which is really useful when it comes to parking.
There is also a new suspension system to ensure a more comfortable and agile performance.
The infotainment system is accessed through an eight-inch colour touch-screen which sits at the top of the centre-console which features a very cool maple-wood surround.
The interior is incredibly spacious with three rows of seats all easily accessible and the second row passengers have their own individual entertainment systems with screens in the back of the front seat headrests.
It all adds up to an interior that oozes class and versatility.
Pick up your copy of Thursday’s Sport360 to read the full review of this week’s Test Drive.
There are currently more than 20 variants of the iconic Porsche 911, all of them brilliant in their own way but, for me, the most desirable of them all is, and always has been, the Turbo and the S version of this incredible car.
The GT3 RS may look more extreme, but it is actually slower than the new Turbo which has all the power you will ever need and more. It is comfortable to drive as an everyday car and this new model is sensational, from the way it looks to the performance it delivers.
With all manufacturers of performance cars now turning away from naturally aspirated engines in favour of smaller, turbo-charged powerplants Porsche have the advantage of having a history steeped in turbo technology, so it is no surprise that this latest Turbo has been nicknamed the ‘Uber 911’.
The changes to the exterior are only really noticeable from the front and rear views.
There are also four new DRLs (day running lights) on each headlight which add a little bit more distinctive style.
The back has new 3D rear lights and the air vents have vertical instead of horizontal blades plus an additional cover to maximise air intake for the engine. The rear spoiler gives the car a spectacularly aggressive, hunkered down look and the dual tailpipes have been slightly modified.
The sleek side profile of the car is dominated by the signature air intake on those muscular rear haunches and gorgeous 20-inch Turbo S wheels.
The interior hasn’t changed that much although there is now a more sophisticated and much improved Porsche Communications System, an impressive infotainment set-up which is accessed via a much smarter looking touchscreen on the centre dash.
The other major change is the GT sport steering wheel which is inspired by the one in the Porsche 918 hybrid supercar. Rather than have the drive mode buttons on the centre console as in previous models, these have now been moved to a rotary switch on the steering wheel where you can select from Normal, Sport, Sport Plus (yes, please!) and Individual where you set up the car to your own liking.
There is also a button in the middle of this dial which when pushed gives you a 20-second power boost which his useful for overtaking.
Frankly, you don’t really need this with all the power available under your right foot, but it is fun to use. Apart from these new toys it remains a very intimate two-plus-two with rear seats that are really only useful for small kids and luggage.
This Turbo is all about pushing the boundaries of performance and auto technology to the maximum, which is something it has sort of always done but this one moves into entirely new territory.
Apart from the sharper, more aerodynamic design the car is faster and more efficient than its predecessor, which is an accomplishment in itself. It is powered by a 3.8-litre, twin turbo flat six which has plenty of muscle to flex with 540bhp, which is 20bhp more power than the last 911 Turbo.
The torque hits the 710nm marque and the whole thing adds up to a 0-100kmh time of just three seconds. The Turbo S whittles that down to 2.9 seconds and is the first 911 to break the three seconds barrier.
And if you think that’s impressive it will, if given the opportunity, blast you a quarter of a mile down the road in 11 seconds.
All this power is delivered to the all wheel drive system via the iconic seven-speed PDK gearbox which is awesome in full auto mode, but you can switch to manual mode with the gear-shifter which has been changed so it is identical to that used in the GT3, GT3 RS and in racing cars.
When you push the lever forward you change down and when you pull it back you upshift. There are also paddle-shifts which I preferred using if I wanted a bit more involvement. Mind-blowing performance needs equally impressive handling and this Turbo ticks all those boxes, and some.
This car is brimming over with the very best in traction control, stability, suspension management, and dynamic chassis control which, without going into the technicalities of all this kit, ensure that this car sticks to the road as if it is on rails, and does so with breaking sweat. Its agility really is astonishing, particularly with rear-axle steering which comes as standard.
It really is one of life’s great pleasures to drive this car quickly with everything from handling, comfort and performance guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
When I drove the last generation of the 911 Turbo S it immediately became my dream car. It has just been usurped and that’s after driving the basic Turbo. I can only imagine how good the S version is.