Thursday, December 5, 2019
Features Infiniti: The Next 30 Years Via More Design And Electrification

Infiniti: The Next 30 Years Via More Design And Electrification

The next three years will redefine Infiniti’s image and from what we’ve seen, it’s looking really good.

Here’s a bit of knowledge, if you didn’t know: The Infiniti logo represents the road, the long infinite road ahead and Infiniti’s desire to be there with you. I firmly believed in it when they released the cool M30, the G35 and the FX – here were novel, segment busting or birthing vehicles that cemented Infiniti’s place among the ultra-competitive luxury car companies. As the years went by, a dimming of the spark caused me to question whether or not Infiniti was in it to win it but I’ve come around.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures of the QX55, or images of the screen that displayed renderings of these future products.

Infiniti QX55

Of the five products on the way, the first will be the Infiniti QX55. To put it simply, the QX55 is to the QX50 what the BMW X4 is to the X3, or the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe to the GLC. This is Infiniti jumping on the trendy SUV “coupe” bandwagon. We did get to see a wrapped working test mule and, admittedly, it looks promising.

The QX55 is largely based on the QX50 but with a unique front fascia, bonnet, and other exterior trim. The rear is most notably different. It features rearward slopping roofline which joins with a sharply inclined hatch. The QX50 is already a very attractive small midsize (D Segment) luxury CUV and the QX55 will cater to SUV buyers that crave styling but not maximized utility. It will arrive sometime next summer, more than likely powered by the QX50’s VC-Turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine.

Infiniti QX60

Shortly after the launch of the QX55, the new, far more convincing QX60 will make an appearance. From the brief video presentation, we could saw that it is dramatically restyled, upright, and more SUV than ever. There will be a two-tone roof colour combo and the wheels will be larger.

The cabin will be completely redone. The images depicted a decidedly upscale environment which will undoubtedly raise the QX60’s standing and appeal. No word on the powertrain at this time.

Infiniti QS Inspiration | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Electrified

The next three vehicles will officially launch Infiniti into the world of electrification. Over the last two years, Infiniti’s revealed a series of Q Inspiration Concepts. All three, the Q Inspiration, Qs Inspiration and QX Inspiration will see their way to production.

The Q Inspiration will be a new fully-electric flagship sedan (more or less the Q70’s replacement) and will compete at the highest level with other large luxury cars. The only detail we know, other than it looks extraordinary, is that it will feature dual electric motors.

Next will come the Qs Inspiration and QX Inspiration production units. Infiniti could not specify which will hit the road first as both are being developed simultaneously, using the recently unveiled Nissan Ariya Concept’s platform as a starting point. This is where things get interesting as there will be two types of motivation.

Although styling for both vehicles will be unique, the Qs being a sedan while the QX, an SUV, they will share a platform and powertrains including a dual motor setup, or one electric motor on each axle. Depending on the vehicle, trims and configuration, the electric motors will deliver a total power output of between 248-horsepower and 429-horsepower. The higher-powered versions of these powertrains should be able to launch the vehicle from 0 to 100km/h in about 4.5 seconds.

Now, one alternative will be a fully electric, plug-in battery EV as we know them today. Few details were shared other than the desire to provide roughly 300 miles (480 km) of range, but nothing on battery size, or sizes or on-board charging capabilities, and so on.

The other alternative is a very different concept, but not an entirely alien one. Infiniti does not want to call it Hybrid 2.0 but if you keep this in mind, it might help to understand what they are up to.

Hybrid 2.0, but not…

As we know, a gasoline-hybrid vehicle is driven by an internal combustion engine (ICE), which is assisted by an electric motor-generator. All these cars require is petrol in the tank and all’s good. Infiniti’s version, based on the Nissan ePower technology, will put the electric motors to work and they will be fed electricity generated by an onboard ICE. No, this is not like the Chevy Volt which was an EV with a range-extender. Moreover, there will be no way to plug in the vehicle to recharge it, hence why I imply that it is a Hybrid 2.0.

Infiniti refers to it as a gasoline-generated EV which, in a way, sounds like a turn-off. In practice though, it will make sense. Fuel economy numbers (an odd element for an EV) were not disclosed for the ‘MR15DDT’ engine. This 3-cylinder 1.5-liter VC-Turbo gasoline generator will constantly charge the onboard high-discharge, low-capacity 3.5 to 5.1 kWh battery pack which will “turn” the wheels.

We assume that, like a hybrid, full EV driving will be possible under light throttle load such as low-speed urban driving or coasting, and that regenerative braking will be part of the package. In all other instances, the 3-pot will be running. As a package, range is expected to reach up to 500 miles, or 800 km.

We all know 3-cylinder engines can be quite unrefined. Infiniti assures us that not only is the 1.5L unit not only extremely smooth but will be fully encapsulated in the engine compartment to reduce audible engine noise, vibrations and harness.

Infiniti’s version of Nissan’s ePower will, for one get its own name shortly and two, fast-forward the brand into the well-accepted hybridized luxury car market. Infiniti boasts that with these technologies, they will leapfrog the competition. While the enthusiasm is infectious, all other OEMs are quickly gearing up for electrification and, as such, we can’t yet see how Infiniti will gain any specific advantage over the others. That is, unless they manage to put the vehicles on the road ahead of the competition.

If anything however, the upcoming Qs Inspiration and QX Inspiration production vehicles are making me think Q45 and FX with their striking beauty and innovative design.

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,400 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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