When you see this rough beast slouching out of the mist towards you, you’re not sure, exactly, what you’re looking at.
Is it an aftermarket grille conversion? A sign of the apocalypse? Is it a grey-market import from China? You know, one of those cars clearly styled after a western brand, but changed – just that much – to avoid a lawsuit?
The QX80’s mug is nothing if not, erm, distinctive.Then, as the big blue behemoth comes towards you, you realize that it can’t possibly be a Chinese import because even they couldn’t come up with something as radical looking as the 2015 Infiniti QX80.
Indeed, with its steroid-infused Infiniti-spec grille (four tightly tapering corners, all framing a blacked out convex grille) Cro-Magnon Man forehead hoodline (although, one that’s slightly less prehistoric than that found on the previous-gen QX56), Buick-style side portholes, downward-slanting headlights and curved foglights, the QX80’s mug is nothing if not, erm, distinctive.
Of course, I’ve heard many an argument from friends and from colleagues that it’s distinctive to a fault; some say it’s a bit too much, some say it’s flat-out ugly and others wonder why it was ever designed to look like that in the first place. Indeed, of all the vehicles that I think of when it comes to a comparison, the Mitsuoka Orochi – look it up – immediately comes to mind; that was a car designed with a Japanese aesthetic in mind, to be sold only in the Japanese market. It’s fantastically weird-looking and makes the QX look tame by comparison; as long as it’s parked right beside it. Which, of course, would be a rare occurrence in Canada, so there’s the rub: what works in the Japanese domestic market doesn’t necessarily translate well over here.
At least our tester’s Hermosa Blue paint, strange name notwithstanding (it means “beautiful” in Spanish, so it’s strange to have that attached to this vehicle), kind of hides some of the awkward contours. It’s one of seven available colours, whose names include Majestic White and Asgard Grey (I guess the designers are keen to either show their penchant for Marvel Comics, or that that the big, hulking QX80 has the power of Thor’s hammer).
You know what, though? I’m just not so offended by the styling. Think about it; in this day in age, when so many cars look so similar due to ever stricter crash-test requirements and the need to shape front-ends so they’ll be both strong and able to better slice through the air ahead, it’s nice to see something unique; I’m not sure how Infiniti gets away with it. It’s a funny thing, though; so many of the QX80’s detractors we spoke of earlier – and we’re talking about colleagues of mine who have been in this industry a long, long time – kind of see their arguments run out of steam once the conversation advances past the styling.
Yes, I get it: this is the luxury SUV segment, and looks count for buyers. Having said that, there’s a lot more that also counts and a lot more the QX80 offers.