The 2013 Infiniti EX37
Power: 325 hp, 267-lb-ft of torque
Engines: 3.7-liter V6
Fuel Consumption: 17 city/25 highway
Sebastian Vettel. He's the a three-time Formula One champion. He's the three-time consecutive Formula One champion. He's the youngest—a distressing 25-years-old—double, and obviously, treble winner of the rigorous racing series. In short, Vettel is the type of driver that makes mere desk-bound mortals feel incredibly inadequate behind the wheel.
Vettel's team, Red Bull Racing, has partnered with Infiniti
since early 2011. The champion's connection to the Japanese luxury brand extended beyond the track in October, when "The Sports Crossover For World Champions," the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition
, landed in extremely exclusive numbers—just 150 were made available globally.
Pitched as a "money-can't-buy motoring experience," the Vettel version sure ain't for mere desk-bound mortals who feel inadequate in comparison to the driving prowess of a champion. The vehicle does, however, push the idea that if a mere desk-bound mortal got hold of the keys of any FX, a real drivers experience would inevitably reveal itself at first bend.
Full disclosure: We didn't drive a an Infiniti FX Vettel Edition. Full disclosure, part 2: We didn't drive an FX37 or FX50 either. Instead, we went small and hit the highway in Infiniti's luxury compact crossover, the EX37.
Compact crossovers have an unusually sporty position in the current auto market. The Nissan Juke, most famously tuned to an eye-popping 600 hp, might be the standard bearer, but the scene deepens quicker than you can add that extra R. And, it's getting broader with each passing auto show.
The EX37 has softer lines than the big brother FX37. As such, there's a different curb appeal. Its smooth and elegant, rather than aggressive and fast. The difference in aesthetic may suggest a difference in performance: Power vs. comfort.
Hold those thoughts.
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Beneath the diminutive hood of the EX37 lies a 3.7-liter V-6. For comparison sake, the 7-seat JX35 employs a 3.5-liter V6. The difference is about 65 hp, and given the divide in curb weight makes the smallest crossover in Infiniti's range a sleeper-speedster.
That's the fun.
The EX37's got the same family-friendly (albeit first kid not third) appeal as the JX35, but a little dose of Vettel DNA too. Compacts are logical grocery-getters—both for young professionals and empty nesters. This size range parks easy, fits a bunch of luggage, and happily transports full-size adults in the back seat. All are wins.
Just as you don't want to lose a life in Super Mario Bros., you sure as hell would rather get from point A to point B without a sharp beep cutting into your enjoyment of Dangerruss' brilliant "My Fork."
Often, however, vehicles in the size range don't inspire Sunday drives. Not so with the EX37. Curvy roads? A joy. Road trips? Awesome. Crossovers should be versatile, the EX37 gives that need an interior upgrade. Heated seats, leather wrapped wheel, and all the right tech…exactly where it needs to be situated.
Behind the wheel, a little imagination puts the driver (if only for a moment) in Vettel's shoes. Except, when he's wearing loafers. And, when he's going to pick up a pizza not crush on-track competitors.
The nature of the car's sensory system also allows for a fun game: Treating otherwise aggravating beeps as friendly advice from Vettle for how drive properly. Yes, these fail to recognize moments when sliding out of lane is necessary. But, if you transfer annoyance and allow the digital ticks of the vehicle to help you help yourself, then a healthy feeling of improvement on the road emerges. Just as you don't want to lose a life in Super Mario Bros., you sure as hell would rather get from point A to point B without a sharp beep cutting into your enjoyment of Dangerruss' brilliant "My Fork
." Thus, attempts to get from A to B without sensory beeps is fun.
Fun translates to owner-satisfaction. The EX37 won't offer more utility than any other car in its niche. Nor does it necessarily out "luxury" the competition. However, no other compact crossover lends itself to race car fantasy in such a viable, everyday package.