First drive: 2013 Infiniti QX56 offroad in the UAE
Infiniti recently invited us to try out the 2013 QX56 at a media event. We were more than familiar with the QX56’s capabilities on the road, thanks to the long-termer we had in 2011. We didn’t explore its off-roading credentials at the time beyond mountain-driving, but since it is a reskinned Nissan Patrol after all, Infiniti wanted us to do more with it this time around.
The 2013 Inifiniti QX56 has not changed at all since its inception two years ago. The only notable addition is a pair of small LED strips added to the front bumper grille as a dealer accessory. Other than that, the exterior is exactly the same, as is the premium interior.
To start off the event, we first headed towards the mountains on the outskirts of Ras Al Khaimah from Dubai, which accounted for just over an hour’s drive. Here we got a feel of the QX56’s drive in the city. The ride is on the firm side thanks to its massive 22-inch alloys, but is much smoother at speeds above 100 kph. Wind and road noises are minimal. With instant power available from the 5.6-litre V8 powerplant, overtaking was not a problem.
Before we ascended up the mountains, we switched the transfer-case setting from Auto to 4-High and turned off the traction control. Unsurprisingly, thanks to the 400 hp and 560 Nm of torque on offer, the QX56 easily overcame any obstacles the rough terrain threw at us. For descending the mountain, the instructors encouraged us to shift between first and second gear using the tiptronic transmission, so we hardly had to use the brakes unless we were coming to a full stop. There is a hill-descent feature as well to help you down the slopes.
After an hour, we were back on the road and stopped over at the magnificent Banyan Tree Desert Resort for lunch. The next activity lined up for us was to try out the QX56 on the sand dunes. After deflating the tyres down to 20 psi, switching off the traction control and selecting 4-High, we headed into the desert. The QX56 glided through the route set for us without any issues, hardly having to use much power to overcome the slopes. We did end up getting stuck twice briefly, but came out of it without any drama. On the first occasion, we hadn’t used enough throttle to go up the dune and bogged down. We just popped the gear in reverse, descended back down, and overcame it on the second try. On the second occasion, we were again a bit low on the power and got stuck on the top of the slope to avoid a car ahead that hadn’t cleared the dune yet. Reverse didn’t work this time since the rear tyres were buried deeper than before. So we moved the gear to 4-Low and with some steering play and acceleration inputs, we got ourselves unstuck within a few seconds.
The Infiniti QX56 is by no means cheap. Most buyers probably won’t even take it off-road. But it’s like when you are looking for an apartment. You want a gym and a sauna, even though you will probably never use it. The same goes for the QX56. The fact that it is a capable off-roader makes it all the more desirable to consumers, whether they ever venture with it into the desert or not.