Infiniti's unprecedented program of new product introductions continues with the debut of the all-new 2003 Infiniti FX45 premium crossover SUV, which combines aggressive styling, outstanding performance and handling and luxury car comfort and amenities in a truly breakthrough design. The all-wheel drive FX45 features a 315-horsepower 4.5-liter V8 based on the Infiniti's flagship Q45 performance luxury sedan powerplant. The new premium crossover SUV is also offered with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6, badged as the FX35, with all-wheel drive or optional rear-wheel drive.
The FX45 is the latest of Infiniti's ongoing vehicle introductions, following last year's launches of the award-winning G35 sport sedan and G35 sport coupe and the M45 performance sedan. The FX45 went on sale in late January at 162 Infiniti dealers nationwide.
"The FX45, like the Q45, G35 and M45, represents our intention to stand out from the pack of less exciting, less confident vehicles currently in the performance luxury market," said Mark McNabb, vice president and general manager, Infiniti Division. "It is an innovative design with its trend-setting exterior and interior styling, and in its application of technology and engineering toward the creation of stunning performance."
Dynamic Styling, Aggressive Stance
By definition, crossover SUVs incorporate elements of passenger cars into sport utility vehicles. What is often lost in the transition, however, is a sense of style or personality. In creating the new FX45, its designers sought what they called a "cool fusion" – the blending of a substantial, SUV lower body with the sleek, elegant upper body more reminiscent of a classic sports car or sports GT.
"The FX45 draws on a foundation born of our G35 sport coupe and sport sedan and our experience with our popular QX4 SUV – elements of which come through the first time you set eyes on the FX45," said McNabb. "Thus the exterior is all about projecting a unique sense of agility and dynamic performance – along with a healthy dose of SUV versatility and the all-wheel drive flexibility to occasionally leave the paved world behind."
The exterior of the FX45 features a wide, aggressive stance with a long, sleek hood, sleek roof and a "taut canopy" greenhouse. The short front and rear overhangs provide SUV-level approach and departure angles, while also helping accentuate the long wheelbase, wide track and large tires (20-inch on V8-equipped models). The wide yet narrow headlights and taillights give the FX45 an "in-motion" look, with the taillights extending past the body slightly to help create aerodynamic downforce.
The FX45 exterior also features a large Infiniti signature grille, standard fog lights, xenon headlights and large, split dual tailpipes with chrome finishers. Special attention was also paid during the design process to surface quality, parts quality and in creating a sense of elegance and grace. A special palette of exterior colors (eight total) was chosen to highlight and, at times, contrast the aggressive nature of the FX45, ranging from a vivid Laser Red and signature Liquid Copper to a deep Beryllium 16 and cool Brilliant Silver.
"The look of the FX45 is athletic – a coiled spring rather than brute force," said McNabb. "It looks strong, capable and most of all, stunningly original."
Dominating Performance From Confidence-Inspiring Engines and Platform
The FX45's long 112.2-inch wheelbase and wide track (62.7-inches front, 64.6-inches rear) combine with standard 20-inch wheels and tires (optionally available on V6 models) to provide a stable foundation for on- or off-road driving – as well as a large interior for both passengers and cargo. The FX45 utilizes an enhanced version of the innovative FM (for Front Mid-ship) platform used on the G35 sport coupe and G35 sport sedan, which positions the engine behind the front axle.
This results in an optimized front-to-rear weight balance of 54:46 (V8 AWD), which factors in weight transfer during key handling maneuvers, such as entering and exiting corners. The FM platform's rigidity has been enhanced, for use specifically with the FX45, by increasing plate thickness of the front side members, side sills and rear wheel housing.
Two engines are available, starting with the high-performance power of the 4.5-liter DOHC V8. This advanced powerplant, also used in the Infiniti Q45 and M45 sedans, has been specially tuned for use in the FX45 and produces 315 horsepower (versus 340 hp in the Q45 and M45) and 329 lb-ft of torque (versus 333 lb-ft in the Q45 and M45).
The engine's advanced design includes titanium valves, modular cylinder heads, microfinished crankshaft, lightweight pistons, super-silent single stage cam drive chain and a hydraulically driven cooling fan to help optimize performance. In addition, the VK45DE is outfitted with a variable length air induction system and Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS) to enhance the engine's power delivery and operation efficiency.
Also offered is a 3.5-liter DOHC 24-valve V6 engine with aluminum-alloy block and heads and electronically controlled "drive-by-wire" throttle system. Both the standard all-wheel drive and optional rear-wheel drive V6 engine-equipped versions are designated as FX35 models.
Like the V8, the V6 has been specially tuned for use in the FX35, with a horsepower rating of 280 (versus 280 and 260 horsepower in the G35 coupe and sedan respectively). Torque is rated at 270 lb-ft (versus the G35 coupe and sedan's 270/260 lb-ft).
A 5-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, designed for high torque capacity and light weight, is standard with both V8- and V6-equipped models.
Infiniti's advanced Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) system with Traction Control System is also standard on every 2003 FX45. Vehicle Dynamic Control adjusts brake pressure and engine torque automatically in understeer, oversteer or slippery road surface situations, helping the drivers keep their intended paths.
The ATTESA E-TS (Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) all-wheel drive system utilized on FX45 uses an advanced torque split control strategy that automatically transfers optimum torque to the wheels according to road and driving conditions. It provides outstanding cornering capability similar to a sports car due to optimum torque distribution for front and rear (0:100 up to 50:50). The system also provides high starting traction performance and smooth, stable acceleration, especially in snow-covered or off-road situations with the driver-selectable Auto/Lock AWD mode providing maximum traction.
FX45's dynamic handling is a result of its advanced 4-wheel independent suspension with extensive use of aluminum-alloy components to reduce unsprung weight and incorporate special "High Frequency Control" shock absorber technology with a Rebound Spring for responsive yet comfortable ride and firm, tight handling. The front suspension utilizes an independent front strut design, while the rear features a multi-link design. Large diameter stabilizer bars are utilized front and rear (front only on V6 RWD model).
Helping enhance ground clearance and all-terrain drivability are the FX45's standard 8.0JJx20 8-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels and 265/50R20 all-season tires (optionally available with V6 models). Standard on V6-equipped FX35s are 8.0JJx18 7-spoke aluminum-alloy wheels and 265/60R18 all-season tires.
Standard braking system components include 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes, Brake Assist (BA) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD). Responsive steering is provided by an engine-speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion steering system.
Also available on FX45 models with the Intelligent Cruise Control System is a special feature of the standard Brake Assist System – Preview Braking. Brake Assist with Preview Function is designed to improve brake response. Whereas normally braking is activated only when the driver recognizes the need and moves his or her foot to activate the brake pedal, the Preview Function utilizes the ICC sensors to identify sudden braking situations (by sensing the vehicle ahead in the same lane and the distance and relative speed from it) and "pre-pressurizes" the Brake Assist system before the driver steps on the brake pedal. This helps maximize braking response and performance by reducing the normal brake system activation time lag.
A High Tech Interior Accentuated with Luxurious Comfort
The five-passenger interior of the FX45 provides a blend of the comfort and amenities of a luxury car with an array of high tech features for the driver and passengers. The designers created three separate "zones" -– each personalized for the specific needs of the persons using it.
The "driver zone" maximizes driving excitement through the creation of a cockpit-like feel with driver-oriented controls, 8-way power-adjustable seat with memory function, driver-dedicated automatic air conditioning, information display monitor (6.3-inch standard, 7.0-inch with the Technology Package) and a three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with power tilt (standard on V8 models, moves in tandem with the instrument cluster) and telescope, integrated cruise and available steering wheel-mounted audio system controls.
The "comfort zone," designed to maximize comfort for the front passenger, includes a 4-way power-adjustable seat, passenger adjustable armrest and individual air conditioning control. The "play zone" offers rear seat passengers such available features as a DVD player with wireless headphones, personal reading lamps, center armrest with tray and storage, dual seatback pockets for storing DVDs and magazines, reclining seats and rear B-pillar mounted air conditioning vents for enhanced cooling performance.
Every FX45 model also offers exceptional utility, including a large cargo area with easy cargo accessibility, flip-down rear seats with quick-release levers conveniently located in the cargo area, three underfloor storage compartments and a lightweight, steel-reinforced composite rear cargo door with electromagnetic opener switch and automatic back door closure assist system.
A number of special high tech features are also available in the Technology Package, including an advanced DVD-based Infiniti Navigation System, Intelligent Key with keyless entry and engine start system and RearView Monitor. The RearView Monitor projects a view of what's behind the FX45 onto the navigation system monitor using a small camera mounted near the rear license plate (the system operates only when reverse gear is selected). Also available is Infiniti's Intelligent Cruise Control System, which uses the brakes, throttle and laser sensors, to maintain a set distance between the FX45 and a vehicle in front of it.
The Infiniti Mobile Entertainment System features a DVD player with 6.3-inch roof-mounted rear LCD screen. An AM/FM/cassette/6-CD audio system with six speakers is standard, while a 300-watt digital Bose" premium audio system with 11 speakers is also available.
Other interior amenities include an Infiniti signature analog clock, driver and passenger one-touch up/down power windows (front and rear on V8 model) and door locks, to name just a few.
Four unique leather-appointed interior color combinations are offered: Graphite, Willow, Willow/Black two-tone and the signature Brick/Black two-tone. The Willow interior is also available in cloth.
High Level of Safety
From a safety standpoint, every FX45 model comes with standard dual-stage front supplemental air bags with seat belt sensors, front seat side-impact supplemental air bags and front and rear seat curtain side-impact supplemental air bags.
Also standard are seat belts with pretensioners and load limiters and the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child seat anchors and tether system.
The G35, the new FX45's SUV-enhanced Zone Body FM platform with front and rear crushable zone is designed to help protect occupants during crash impacts and vehicle body deformation in a collision by efficiently absorbing crash energy. In frontal collisions the crushable body construction is designed to help reduce the deceleration g-force of the cabin.
In a high-speed frontal collision, the crushable zone crumples while the engine drops under the floor. This effectively expands the crushable zone, reducing deceleration g-force and simultaneously helping minimize cabin deformation, especially in the leg area.
In offset impacts, the strong body construction is helps decrease the amount of cabin deformation. Other features also contributing to improved occupant safety, include the breakaway brake pedal and a breakaway construction of the propeller shaft (connected with the engine-drop function) and the double-wall construction of the bulkhead.
Models and Packages
The fully equipped FX45 is offered in three engine/drive configurations: the V8-powered AWD FX45, the V6-powered AWD FX35 and the V6-powered FX35 with optional rear-wheel drive.
In addition to the long list of equipment on the V6 FX35, the FX45 includes additional standard equipment, including sport suspension tuning, leather seating and trim, heated front seats, driver's seat memory system with two settings, 20-inch tires and unique aluminum-alloy wheels.
It also offers power tilt and telescope steering wheel, power driver's seat lumbar support, heated outside mirrors with memory system, auto up and down feature on all windows, aluminum pedals (accelerator, brake and footrest) and a unique V8 engine cover.
A number of optional packages are also available. The V6 Premium Package includes leather seating surfaces, heated front seats, driver's memory seat and power lumbar support, power tilt and telescopic steering wheel, heated outside mirrors, sunroof, 300-watt 11-speaker Bose audio system, HomeLink" Universal Transceiver, auto on-off headlights, steering wheel audio controls and cargo net.
The V8 Premium Package includes sunroof, Bose audio system, HomeLink Universal Transceiver, auto on-off headlights, steering wheel audio controls and cargo net.
The Sport Package (available only on V6 models) includes all of the V6 Premium Package equipment plus 20-inch wheels and tires, the sport-tuned suspension and aluminum pedals.
For buyers looking for the ultimate in advanced equipment, the Technology Package adds (in addition to all Premium and Sport Package features) the Infiniti Navigation System, Intelligent Cruise Control, Mobile Entertainment System (DVD-based), RearView Monitor System, Tire Pressure Monitor System and Intelligent Key.
The Intelligent Key is a new generation keyless system that eliminates the need to use the key fob when locking, unlocking and starting the engine. The key fob, which incorporates a circuit board, emergency key and transponder, can be carried in the driver's pocket, briefcase or purse. To unlock or lock the door, the driver pushes a request switch on the door handle (driver's, passenger's or tailgate). The transponder checks the Intelligent Key unit for the correct identification and unlocks or locks the doors.
To start the engine, the driver pushes the ignition knob into the steering column. If the identification is correct, the knob can be turned to start the engine. The knob is rotated back to the ACC position to stop the engine. The engine can also be started conventionally by inserting the emergency key into the ignition slot.
The Intelligent Key has the same functions as current remote entry systems, including panic alarm and selective unlock mode and answer back.
"The FX45 epitomizes the new Infiniti, with dramatic styling, unmatched handling and performance, advanced technology features and the go-anywhere, do-anything utility of all-wheel drive and flexible cargo space," said McNabb. "There are a growing number of premium crossover SUVs on the marketplace today, but none that come close in any dimension to the FX45. It's the SUV that a sports car manufacturer should have built."