It always seemed an unlikely project for Infiniti Brand Ambassador and Red Bull Racing F1 driver, Sebastian Vettel, to get involved in – surely the combination of a two-time F1 world champion with Nissan’s luxury brand could have come up with something more ‘in keeping’ than a moderately-quick SUV?
And even though Vettel runs an Infiniti FX 50 as his daily driver, wouldn’t it have made more sense to ‘sex up’ a model in the range that more than a handful of people are likely to buy? The G37 Coupe springs to mind, or how about the long-rumoured Infiniti flagship model fitted with the Nissan GT-R running gear?
That’s a lot of questions for the first two paragraphs of any article, but that’s how the FX Vettel Edition makes us feel – why, oh why, oh why.
Well it’s too late now – the deed has been done and the first few cars are heading off to their (hopefully delighted) owners.
Last week, Vettel spent the day at Infiniti’s global manufacturing plant in Tochigi to approve the first models off the production line before taking to the Tochigi test track and putting the FX Vettel Edition through its paces. While at the plant he also had the opportunity to tour the factory and meet engineers and staff behind the car’s development.
Speaking afterwards, Sebastian Vettel said: “It was great to get a look behind the scenes at Infiniti, meet some of the people involved and of course drive the car. In F1, the first few laps testing a new car are when you find out if it’s quick or not. It was the same today and I’m pleased to say the Infiniti team have done an outstanding job. It really delivers on the vision I had – it’s very fast, and a car that driving enthusiasts are going to enjoy.”
The FX Vettel Edition is a unique collaboration between Sebastian Vettel and Infiniti’s Chief Creative Officer, Shiro Nakamura, who received the World-Champion’s inputs during the car’s development.
Its 414bhp 5.0-litre V8 engine puts the FX Vettel Edition on a par with Porsche’s 4.8-litre Cayenne GTS, but it lags behind the Cayenne’s 251 g/km CO2 emission performance with 307g/km. Likewise the FX’s 21.6 mpg pales beside the Cayenne’s 26.4 mpg average consumption.
A top speed of 170mph and 0-62mph acceleration of 5.6 seconds seems a closer match to the Porsche’s 162mph and 5.7 seconds, but all comparisons cease when the FX Vettel Edition’s £100,800 list price is weighed against the Cayenne’s £67,147.
Even if the FX Vettel Edition’s handling has been ‘blessed’ by an F1 world champion, it’s unlikely to put one of the best handling SUVs to shame.
As we said at the beginning, the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition raises a lot of questions, although unfortunately none of these questions are aimed at its competitors.