MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO – Ever since BMW put a sloping roofline on an X5 and called it the X6, consumers haven’t been able to get enough of these jacked-up liftbacks. Not content with letting the Germans basically own the market, Infiniti has taken a scalpel to its QX50 compact luxury crossover to create the 2022 Infiniti QX55.
On the outside, lots of changes set the QX55 apart from its non-coupe QX50 brother. The front bumper is redesigned and features a large lower air intake and prominent fog lamp trim that mimics the Q50 sport sedan’s front fascia. Along the side, the windowline adopts an even more dramatic arc than that of the old FX45 SUV, while the rear window is raked sharply towards the front of the QX55. From there, more coupe crossover changes take hold.
The tailgate goes surprisingly horizontal beneath the rear window before taking a sharp detour into a ducktail. In a move that’s very “like Volkswagen but with fewer moving parts,” the Infiniti emblem on the tailgate doubles as a bezel for a button to open the hatch and a convenient mounting place for the reversing camera. While the QX55’s short dash-to-axle ratio quickly reveals its front-wheel-drive roots, it’s still a very interesting vehicle to look at.
On the inside, Infiniti has spent their money on materials. Incredibly soft leather covers the seats and steering wheel while other soft stitched materials are draped across the dashboard, door panels and console. The speaker grilles for the Bose system are metal, the open-pore wood feels incredibly rich in texture and the Monaco Red interior of the QX55 we drove was absolutely stunning and a great tie-in to the Q50 sport sedan and Q60 coupe. Compared to similarly-priced coupe crossovers, the QX55’s interior craftsmanship feels like a step up. But if the QX55’s sheer plushness feels a step up, its technology feels like a step back.
On the feature front, there are a few curious omissions, particularly as some absent toys are available in many mainstream models. Wireless charging and a fully-digital dashboard are conspicuously absent, a mark indicative of how the QX55’s interior uses the same tech as the Q50, a car that debuted eight years ago when Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines was the song of the summer. This would be fine if the rest of the tech was easy to use, but that’s not really the case.
The digital screen in the cluster is small and limited in information while the two-touchscreen infotainment system features mismatched screens and isn’t particularly user-friendly. There’s too much latency between swipe actions and menu structure is too variable to be intuitive. Also, the resolution and distortion levels of the 360-degree camera system just aren’t up to current standards.
Powering the 2022 Infiniti QX55 is Infiniti’s VC-Turbo engine. It’s a two-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that can vary its compression ratio by changing the pivot point of the crankshaft. The science goes that a higher compression ratio is better for efficiency while a lower compression ratio allows for more timing advance and boost pressure before detonation occurs. The numbers seem promising, 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque and a combined fuel economy rating of 9.5 L/100km. But how does it work in real life?
Surprisingly well, as it turns out. Torque is rarely lacking, although that can be said for most competitors with conventional turbocharged four-cylinder engines. What’s perhaps more impressive is how quiet the engine is. The engine mounts are active units that detect vibrations and cancel them out, leading to an experience just as silky as most V6s. However, there are some issues with lag when power is really demanded.
It’s really a three-part problem: the compression ratio has to change, the turbocharger has to spool up and the continuously variable transmission has to find the right ratio. As a result, getting into the real power takes so long that the opportunity for an overtake might be over before the QX55’s even ready to go.
If the powertrain wasn’t interesting enough, the QX55 gets even more interesting when it meets a corner. High-spec models get Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering steer-by-wire system that’s variable-effort, variable-ratio and, truth be told, variable success. It’s less egregious having numb steering in a crossover than it is having numb steering in a sports sedan, so DAS is more welcome in the QX55 than it is in the Q50. However, that doesn’t mean it’s any less strange.
The steering ratio can actually change mid-corner based on throttle and braking inputs, leading to a slight feeling of fighting the machine during spirited cornering. Also, despite there being several different levels of weight and response, the only decent one is all the way on the sporty side. The other settings just feel a bit ponderous for the QX55’s sporty mission with slow ratios and/or overboosted power assist. That being said, most drivers will likely be fine with it and it really enables the ProPILOT Assist active driving safety suite to do its thing.
Curiously, while the QX55 rides quite well, it’s a very loud vehicle on the road. Competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe make it easy to hold whispered conversations between front-seat occupants, but there’s so much tire noise in the QX55 that it sometimes feels like a Boeing 737 rumbling down the tarmac at YYZ. Perhaps it’s just a trait of the factory tires but in the premium car marketplace, low tire noise really matters.
So where does the QX55 fit in the coupe crossover scene? Well, a mid-range QX55 which includes such toys as Bose audio and a 360-degree camera system is only $398 more expensive than a base-model BMW X4. It’s much the same story with other compact premium coupe crossovers – they may be better than the QX55 but they don’t carry the same level of value for under sixty grand. Nor do they have the same level of space inside – the QX55 is surprisingly capacious compared to the GLC coupe and BMW X4. If you want a coupe crossover that makes a statement and don’t mind last-generation interior tech, the QX55 is a solid choice.
But then again, if you do want to make a statement, why buy a coupe crossover? They’re spacious enough for everyday use but are the embodiment of compromise, combining the slightly cumbersome dynamics of a crossover with only a bit more practicality than the average sedan.
For those who really want to make a statement, Infiniti already makes something with tiny rear seats, no rear doors and a rather small trunk that just oozes style and provides actual sporting prowess to back up the good looks. It’s called the Q60, and it’s a low-slung dash of colour across our greyscale crossover SUV landscape. Otherwise, the 2022 Infiniti QX55 is here.