The Chelsea Tractor should be extinct by now. In a world running out of space, oil and money it doesn't make sense to pootle around a cramped city in a vehicle the size of a World War II landing craft. Yet manufacturers keep on releasing new versions. Bentley recently launched an SUV in concept form. Maserati will soon be presenting an interpretation. And then there is this, the Infiniti FX30d.
It's described as 'Infiniti's first diesel', which seems to jump the gun. Judging from the bemused reactions to my test model, for many Brits this will be the first Infiniti they have come across in any form.
The company, which is basically Nissan's attempt to do a Lexus, has been selling cars here for more than two years, and the brand name has for some time been plastered across the rear spoiler of Sebastian Vettel's F1 car; however, awareness remains low. Perhaps that's what you get for advertising on the fastest-moving patch of real estate in the world.
What's the car like? Well, the ride is firm. The visibility - one of the main reasons people buy SUVs - is poor. There are buttons all over the cabin, making it feel like the flight deck of Concorde (at one point I tried to reset the mileometer and rather dangerously put on the speed limiter by accident). Also, it looks peculiar, which is what, I think, the press release is trying to say when it talks about how 'the powerful stance is heightened by a long wheelbase and wide track, leaving only vestigial overhangs, particularly at the front'.
Nevertheless, I found myself rather falling for this car. It's true that Vettel probably gets a better rear view from his F1 car, but he doesn't have a brilliant camera system giving you a 360-degree view around you. The ride may be rock hard, but it feels sportier as a result, and the FX30d has that most unusual of things, a diesel engine that is a pleasure to listen to. It has personality.
With its diagonally stitched leather upholstery, classy analogue clock, real wool carpet and solid aluminium pedals, the cabin must be the best constructed and most luxurious in the business. Over to you, Bentley. And Maserati. And BMW. And Porsche. And ...
****- 4 Out of 5
SPECIFICATION INFINITI FX30d
Engine: V6, 2,993 cc, diesel
Power: 235 bhp @ 3,750 rpm
Torque: 406 lbs/ft @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 31.4 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 238 g/km
0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
Top speed: 132 mph (limited)