Infiniti QX70 – The SUV Motoring Journalists Just Can’t Decide On…


Whether the QX70 receives a good review or not seems to depend on which side of the Atlantic it was written. American motoring journalists are much more positive – UK hacks give the SUV an ‘average’ rating at best.

The reason for this great divide appears to revolve around fuel economy. With cheaper fuel in the US, it’s less of an issue but here, well, that different! Even the normally sober What Car magazine claim ‘the huge costs involved make the QX70 prohibitively expensive to run’.

While even the diesel we’re testing today incurs the maximum rate of company car tax (225 g/km), I’m still achieving more mpg than last week’s hybrid Lexus 450h. 30mpg seems OK to me and the Infiniti is good fun to drive too.

The seats are low, which adds to the sporty feel, the standard, seven-speed auto gearbox shifts smoothly and that V6 diesel sounds quite fruity under the bonnet.

After reading a raft of negative reviews, I’m pleasantly surprised by the Infiniti. It may be a poor man’s Porsche Cayenne but it’s all the better for it…

Infiniti QX70 – A Lesser-Seen Piece of Auto Erotica


Every time I visit London it’s a smorgasbord of auto erotica. There’s a Porsche parked in every street and last week I counted three Rolls-Royce in the space of a minute.

It’s not quite like that in the Cotswolds – unless you include the Range Rover Autobiography or a New Holland tractor. Even so, I can appreciate the urge to want to drive something different, which is where the Infiniti comes in.

OK, it might look like a Porsche Cayenne/Hyundai Santa Fe with on add-shaped nose but drive the QX70 and you can almost the feel the eyes of other drivers checking out your bodywork.

So UK drivers, here’s a potted history. Infiniti launched in 1989 in the US, they came to Europe in 2008, partnered Red Bull in Formula 1 from 2011 and from next year will build a new compact car, called the Q30, in Sunderland.

The QX70 was originally launched in 2003 as the FX, updating its name in 2013. Is it any good? First driving report tomorrow…

Lexus RX 450h – As Scottie Said To Kirk, ‘I Can’t Give You More Power Captain…’


It’s true I do drive a bumbling old Land Rover that probably emits more harmful gasses than a power station but I do aspire to a cleaner, greener lifestyle.

I’d be the first to go zero emissions if I had the money – I do live in an eco house that doesn’t swallow any fossils fuels. Which makes the idea of owning a hybrid 450h even more of a mystery to me.

The problem is that on A-roads and in the country, I have struggled to achieve more than 34mpg from the Lexus. Even with careful driving on the M4 I can barely managed 39mpg, still 6mpg less than what Lexus claim it can do.

Not only that but the RX battery pack is pretty useless. Even in a stop-start urban traffic jam, the range is tiny and once you hit about 20mph, the engine automatically kicks in.

And when it does, the 3.5-litre V6 is a total plodder. It’s less exciting to drive than a Fiat 500 TwinAir and the engine sounds hollow and rather empty.

Yes, I can save £100 or so in road tax every year driving this hybrid but the over-riding question I have about RX 450h ownership is simply this: ‘what’s the point?’


Lexus RX 450h – Is This Really The Best SUV for £50,000?


It’s been a ‘relaxed’ Bank Holiday Weekend in the RX – and I mean that in every sense. This is an SUV built for comfort rather than speed. If you want to go fast then pick a BMW X5.

Although the RX has a 3.5-litre petrol engine AND two electric motors, it’s really not that exciting to drive. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if they could have created the same amount of power with a 2.0-litre petrol unit instead and improved the fuel economy at the same time.

My gripes about consumption are still valid but that has been overtaken by issues with the multimedia unit, especially the satellite navigation which does not allow you to input a full GB postcode. That’s pretty shocking for a vehicle costing £50,000.

It’s been terrible frustrating trying to get anywhere using the navigation – instead I have taken to using my iPhone, which is less practical but actually works!


Lexus RX 450h – Ever Been Asked To Fill Up A Stranger’s Car At The Pump?


So I’d just finished filling up my Lexus RX in Whitney today (still grumbling over a hybrid that only manages 30.8mpg) when an elderly lady next to me asked if I would show her how to take the fuel cap off her new car.

Judging by the state of the interior, I’d say she’d owned it for years but being a decent chap, I showed her the mechanism. It soon became apparent that she could barely see the car, let alone the filler nozzle! She was so shortsighted I honestly wondered if I should call the police.

It didn’t end there, as I moved back towards the Lexus to fetch my wallet, she then asked if I would fill her car up for her. This presented me with something of a dilemma – should I be polite and oblige, or explain that she really needed to understand how to fill her own car up for the next visit to a filling station.

I opted for the second option. After paying, I returned to my car and there she was, holding the key out to me so that I could put the cap back on again. This struck me as weird but we’d love to hear from anybody else who has had an equally bizarre experience at a petrol station…

Lexus RX 450h – A Navigation System On The Road To Nowhere…


It’s been car buying day for Freddie. Now, that’s usually right up my street, except Freddie is over from Australia and only has £1500 to get a set of student wheels. Considering my first car was  a £200 Morris Minor, I accepted the challenge, naturally thinking there would be plenty of options.

Almost 100 miles later and seriously hacked off, we still hadn’t seen anything worth his hard-earned drinking money. There was an MG Rover that looked as if the interior had been eaten by a dog, a Peugeot 306 that smelt like a dog and a Ford Focus estate that featured an engine that ran like a dog.

None of this was helped by the RX 450h which, we soon discovered, has a terribly complicated multi-media system. The sat nav is not intuitive at all. I lock horns with a different navigation system each week and Freddie is in his 20s – so together we are the perfect pair for understanding a digital map.

The system does not accept seven digit UK postcodes and the process of actually getting the map up and running is over-complicated. The route is also highlighted blue, which is the same colour as dual carriageways on the screen.

So while the screen is large and easy to read, Freddie ended up using his phone to navigate us to the next bad car of the bunch. Surprising? I think so. I’m sure that after a couple of weeks owning a Lexus the system would be simple. However, after a couple of minutes of driving a BMW, Audi or even a Peugeot, I can map a route anywhere…


Lexus RX 450h – 30.8mpg? Surely Some Mistake?


30.8mpg – I thought I was seeing things! The RX 450H may be super refined and comfortable but I imagined that bolting two electric motors to the V6 petrol engine might also boost economy.

Not so, it seems. In fact, quite how Lexus achieved the official 44.8mpg figure is a mystery. I’ve been on a big economy drive today, treating the accelerator pedal with the utmost respect. However, it appears to have made no difference to my mpg figure at all.

I accept that the 145g/km emissions is exceptionally good for a big SUV but it’s really no better at the fuel pump than the Range Rover Sport we tested two weeks ago.

This might make you question why you would buy a 450h in the first place. Yes you save £120 per annum in road tax over other diesel SUVs. Yes you get a feel-good ‘Hybrid’ badge on the side but is that enough for your £50,000?


Lexus RX 450h – It Ain’t Pretty But It’s Clever


Let’s get one thing clear from the start – the RX isn’t the prettiest SUV on the market. It’s not as muscular as the BMX X5 and even looks skinny next to a Freelander.

To address this issue, opt for the next model up, the F Sport. It boasts a little more visual panache and at least looks like it could pull the skin off a rice pudding.

I’m walking around our ‘standard’ 450h now and I just can’t seem to find an angle where it excites me – unusual for a car in the £50k bracket.

From side on, only a ‘Hybrid’ badge catches my eye and I suppose that’s what this latest RX is really all about – technology.

Over the next week we’ll be seeing just how good that technology is. And whether it’s enough to make the Lexus worth your hard-earned cash…

Jaguar XFR – Available Soon With Grass On The Roof


I thought the XFR looked pretty upmarket until I drove through Knightsbridge on Saturday night. The taxi driver said most of the Ferraris and Bentleys on show belonged to Arabs, who were his ‘best customers’.

The streets were packed with every kind of exotica bearing Middle eastern plates – the last time I saw anything like it was in Dubai, where even the police drive Porsche and Lamborghini patrol cars.

The favourite cars I spotted in the capital were a gold-wrapped Ferrari and a Rolls-Royce covered in velvet. How the hell does the owner keep that clean?

So, although the XFR was a poor relation to what was on show, the Jaguar didn’t look that out of place. Maybe if it had grass growing on the roof it would have turned just as many heads…

Jaguar XFR – My Word Is My Bond, Terry…


An ex girlfriend’s mother loved the fact that I turned up in a different car every week to whisk her daughter away. There was only one make that made her shriek in horror – and that was Jaguar.

When she was growing up in London in the 1960s – the mum, not the daughter – Jaguar’s were apparently ‘only’ driven by gangsters and Arthur Daley-types. You remember him? The secondhand car dealer played by George Cole, in the TV series Minder. Must-see viewing for any family in the 1970s.

The old Jaguar XJ had such a distinctive shape that even if I taped over the name badge, I wouldn’t have got away with it. Of course, it’s a different story now. The XFR on the driveway today has a streamlined shape that could make it anything from a Maserati to an Aston Martin when viewed from a distance.

I miss the shape of the old XJ. You can pick up a mint example of the very last versions on Autotrader for less than £20,000. What a bargain! The XFR may be one of the finest saloons on the road but it does lack that classy style that only comes in an old Jaguar.