Rate It: When Sebastian Vettel Put His Name on an Infiniti FX50 Crossover

Let’s say you make cars. Mostly normal cars and SUVs, but you also have a few sporty models in the lineup. Let’s also say that you happen to sponsor a Formula 1 team that has a pretty notable driver. As it turns out, you have the opportunity to make a special edition of one of your cars bearing the driver’s name, so you just might pick one of the more sporty coupes or sedans in your lineup as the special edition’s base, right?

Not if you are Infiniti.

Instead, the Japanese luxury automaker chose the FX (now known as the QX70) for its Formula 1-inspired special edition.

The Sebastian Vettel Edition was a limited-edition FX50–just 150 copies built–that received a number of tweaks to separate it from the more pedestrian model.

Namely, the crossover got a bump in power from its 5.0-liter V8 from 390 horsepower to 414 horsepower, its speed limiter removed so it could reach 300 kph (approximately 186 mph), a longer final drive and a retuned suspension setup.

Infiniti also slathered on a healthy amount of carbon fiber both inside and out, though at least some of it wasn’t only used for decoration, as the crossover’s front splitter and optional rear spoiler is said to have added downforce over the normal FX—though the release doesn’t specify how much.

Regardless, it’s reported that Vettel had at least a small role in the vehicle’s development, so this doesn’t seem to be a half-cocked attempt to cash in on the driver’s name.

Does making fast versions of SUVs and crossovers make sense, or is it better to keep that kind of utility and sport separate from each other?

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Comments
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John Welsh (Moderate Supporter)
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) Mod Squad
10/30/20 2:23 p.m.

Is this an old article?  The Infiniti QX70 was ended in the US in 2017.  Seems the Sebastian Vettel Edition was a '12/or '13 model trim that never came to the US.

This was not the first blunder of Infiniti marketing.  

However, just the other day, I passed an old Infiniti FX45,, the curvy SUV-thing with some athletic looks and a 4.5L V8.  I had forgotten how unique they were at the time.  Generally, when seeing it, I liked it again for being funky.  

 

Speaking of funky...  When was the last time you saw an Acura ZDX?  

 

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 MegaDork
10/30/20 2:45 p.m.

I agree the original FX was pretty cool when it first came out.  It looked like nothing else on the road.  Now of course, almost everything on the road looks like it.

That Acura is just Ugly.

Edit:  But I say that about every single Acura of that vintage, since it was uglified by that goofy silver band of a smiley grille that made all of their vehicles so hard to look at.   To this day I marvel that they could take that one hideous design element, plaster it to the front of every car they made, and stick with it for years.  Small wonder they lost ground to Lexus and Inifiniti.  Remarkable.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/30/20 2:49 p.m.

The "Rate It" articles are the GRM staff mining their archive of press releases and seeing how they stand up. So yeah, old news, sorta. But fun to look back on.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
10/30/20 3:12 p.m.

Yeah that's my bad, I usually try to add a year somewhere in there so it doesn't come across as fresh news.

I can confirm that this was released back in 2013 for the European market.

gearheadE30
gearheadE30 Dork
10/30/20 3:15 p.m.

My parents had an original FX35, AWD, not sport package, when I was growing up. Looked identical to this, with the tan interior:

I spent a lot of time behind the wheel, and my sister actually still owns it. It was a surprisingly good car to drive, and I've always liked the looks. We test drove it back to back with an X3 and X5 at the time, along with a few others. The FX was better. The suspension was pretty darn stiff, so I can't imagine how the sport package car with the larger wheels would have ridden. That thing would seriously hustle down back roads with surprisingly good balance, the VQ sounded good, and we had nearly no durability issues to speak of. Only recently has the dash started bubbling from sun damage, and the radio doesn't like to work below freezing for some reason.

The only downsides we found were it was smaller on the inside than you'd expect thanks to all the curves, the fuel economy was pretty bad, we had to replace rear wheel bearings a few times, and the manumatic shifter was pretty laggy. I'm pretty tall, and I also remember smacking my head on the hatch pretty regularly.

John Welsh (Moderate Supporter)
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) Mod Squad
10/30/20 8:31 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

Yeah that's my bad, I usually try to add a year somewhere in there so it doesn't come across as fresh news.

I can confirm that this was released back in 2013 for the European market.

Keith Tanner said:

The "Rate It" articles are the GRM staff mining their archive of press releases and seeing how they stand up. So yeah, old news, sorta. But fun to look back on.

Combining these two replies and adding to the marketing blunders of Infiniti...  

It is hard to tell the age of this article because as generally a positive, the car still looks current and relevant.  Sure, only 7 years ago when launched in 2013 but still relevant even though discontinued just 3 years ago (2017.)  However, the blunder is that damn Infiniti naming convention.  Q-everything sedan and QX-everything SUV.  I find it impossible to distinguish one model from another in their lineup except to know it's a sedan or SUV.  

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