Sport & spark

Ryan Borroff
THE EX37 is perplexing. Most cars are remarkably easy to understand. With one look at the exterior and a sit inside and you can pretty much get a grip on what kind of car you’re in and have some idea of the kind of person it has been designed for. But not this one. It’s difficult to imagine exactly whom this car is being targeted at in the UK. The short answer, I suspect, is anyone that wants to drive something that is more than a little unusual.

Infiniti is a new brand to the UK. It’s Nissan’s luxury brand and is pitched against Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Which means for the majority of people in this country the badge is interesting only insofar as they haven’t seen it before.

What’s more, this car is a crossover. It’s neither an SUV nor a sporty coupé, despite looking like a child of both. And as with Jordan, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think it’s as arresting a design as any car of this type can be. The car has distinctive coupé styling, suggesting it’s something of a driver’s car. If you line it up against other SUV Coupé crossovers – of which there are remarkably few – it is by far the most attractive. Yet some people find it ugly. My neighbour is one of them.

So it’s a car that polarizes opinion. Yet it’s rather good and I found it growing on me after our week together. The bottom line is it really is great fun to drive but the design of the car means compromises are required that will be too much for some people and mindboggling to others.

The car is fast and can reach 62mph in 6.4 seconds – and it’ll push you back in your seat under heavy acceleration – but really a 3.7-litre V6 320bhp engine in the current environment will be off-putting for some potential buyers, not least because it is not particularly efficient.

The car handles well, though. It’s clear that Nissan’s boffins have worked some real magic getting the car right for UK roads. The steering feels good and there’s barely any body roll. On normal dry roads the car is essentially a rear-wheel drive until the car’s clever computer system senses a lack of traction, when power is sent to the front wheels making the car an all-wheel drive. It feels far more like a sporty coupé than a big SUV. Which is no doubt the point. But the question then is, why wouldn’t you just buy a sporty coupé?

Particularly when you consider the car’s interior – space-wise it’s far more compact and bijou than the overall vehicle size would suggest. It’s comfortable enough inside, although cosy in the back for adults. But the leather and interior plastic trim seems inferior to German rivals. Even the dash and centre console are a little garish. Reds, whites and even yellow illuminations agitate a swath of blue. Only the clock looks classy. If only the vehicle’s designers had been able to carry its cool white light to the rest of the dash instrumentation.

But there’s no doubt the interior is a comfortable place to be. Clever touches include the rear seats, which fold down electrically to increase what is otherwise limited boot space, and a quite fantastic parking system that somehow manages to give a 360-degree view around the car. This system – called Around View Monitor – is remarkable and makes parking the car – which is physically bigger than it feels – a breeze. Somehow I can see an image of the car within its surroundings from above, projected onto the screen in the dash. I have absolutely no idea how it can do this, I can even see the tree next to me. It’s obviously magic and it means that I can align the car with the kerb to the nth degree and without risking the alloys.

In fact the EX37 is packed with clever kit, including an impressive Bose sound system, lane departure warning system and “self-healing” scratch shield paint that can repair scratches in the sun.

It’s obviously an intelligently-designed car, in many ways the car is quite unlike anything else on sale in the UK – a sporty RWD coupé with the additional safety of instant four-wheel drive. But there is no doubt about it, this is a pricey proposition. Fuel economy is poor at 25mpg and it’s not particularly clean.

Thankfully Infiniti has rectified this; a diesel version has just been launched that should ensure big improvements in terms of emissions and fuel consumption. Whether the diesel version of the EX37 remains such a great drive remains to be seen.


PRICE: From £36,275
0-62MPH: 6.4secs
TOP SPEED: 149mph
CO2 G/KM: 265g/km