Driven: 2013 Fuga Hybrid

Back in 2009 Nissan has unveiled their spectacular looking flagship executive sedan:  the Nissan Fuga. Also known as the Ininiti M, the successor of well received 2004 model it followed the same principles including lots of gadgetry, exclusive comfort, sporty handling and modern design.  
I find the exterior being particularly striking.  It follows the curves of the Skyline 370GT (Infiniti G37) but adds a bit of luxury look with more curves around the rear, more vertical large grille as well as larger wheels.  This model came with 18 inch rims while Nissan offers 20 as option.
Back in 2011 I was lucky to have driven the Infiniti M37x in the US, which is a counterpart of Fuga 370GT Four in Japan and while it lacked the sport package it still delivered a hefty punch from the rev-happy 3.7L V6 identical to the one in 370z. it rumbled nicely and provided plenty of power. Handling was very sharp and responsive, especially for a car this size.
Fuel economy was rather poor, however, and that’s where the Hybrid version comes in.  Unlike most other hybrids on the road, this does not combine an underpowered engine with a small electric motor, It has a mighty 3.5L V6 from the 350z producing 313PS and electric motor rated at 68PS. When combined they supply enough power to propel the 1860kg monster from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds. 
My fuel economy numbers were pretty good too as I averaged about 11.5 km/l through entire day of combined city/highway driving.  My average on the Nissan Skyline 370GT was abysmal 6.7km/l
On the inside, even on base model you are surrounded by luxurious finish. Beautiful lines on the dash make it look even more spacious.
Ride comfort is enhanced by cabin quietness achieved by passive noise suppression.  Pretty much the only thing you hear is a gentle growl of the V6 engine as the car glides without much concern about the quality of the road surface. 
Car is packed with electronic safety features such as blind spot detection, parking and side cameras, as well as impressive front facing radar that enhances cruise control to match the speed of the car in front.  It also  provides brakeassist function, which I found rather annoying. 
This car is a luxury cruiser, so problems begin once you enter tiny side streets. Stretching 4.95m with 1.84m in width it does take a lot of space and with long front it becomes particularly difficult to turn into narrow streets.  Corner sensors and top view camera are optional, but highly recommend.
City stop and go traffic is also not pleasant as braking is too responsive, and radar brake assist making stopping very jerky.  Turning it off, although improves braking feel leaves the yellow warning light on the dash, which can be distracting. 
As a whole, however, the car is very well put together.  It’s the fastest hybrid sedan on sale at the moment and it is also very refined and fun to drive.
Personally, I would opt for a 3.7L with sport package option, as with firmer suspension, lower profile tires and 200kg of weight saved with removed battery it is notably more agile and responsive.  Even with less power and torque it feels quicker than the hybrid.
Fuga Hybrid is on sale in Japan starting at 5,397,000 Yen for the no-Nav version, which is not particularly a bargain, but still cheaper than the slower 535i Active Hybrid from BMW.

Things get more appealing in the used car market, where the 370GT version starts to look more attractive, as you can find a Sport version for just above 2 million. 
 
Cost of ownership
3/5
A hybrid can save a lot on gas and acquisition tax, but 3.5L engine and nearly 2 ton body will cost a lot in taxes afterwards.  Wide and large tires will cost a lot to replace as well.
Practicality
3/5
While having a very spacious interior, trunk space is compromised by the battery, which is attached to rear seat, making it impossible to collapse.  It can be difficult to navigate in narrow streets (I would rate non-hybrid version at 4/5 due to more practical trunk)
Appeal
4/5
I could be the best looking Japanese car to date. It turns heads as its presence is felt due to its large profile and curvy form.
Fun factor
3/5
While power delivery is quite amazing, handling is a bit numb and irresponsive. For a hybrid it is good, but car enthusiasts would unlikely be impressed.  Fuga 370 Type S gets 4/5 as there is a big improvment in handling and responsiveness.





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