Infiniti's Move to Join the Big Boys of Luxury?
With the auto show season about to kick off in Paris, concepts have been teased and revealed, with the latest coming from Infiniti. The Infiniti Q80 Concept not only hints at production possibilities, but marks the luxury brand’s entry into the premium-sedan segment. With sleek lines and a striking design, the Infiniti Q80 Concept will definitely make you do a double-take.
Infiniti has decided to break convention for this concept, from its aggressive coupe-like styling to the hybrid powertrain. While the premium sedan segment has been overrun with the likes of BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus, Infiniti hopes to break new ground.
Infiniti Vice President of Product Strategy Francois Bancon spoke highly of the latest concept from the brand, saying that the “Q80 Inspiration concept was born to disrupt the premium sedan category. We aim to do this with elegance, style, and emotion…This car is making a statement. Q80 Inspiration is a precursor of a production model in this segment and, as such, integral to our future.”
No matter the angle from which you look at the new concept, it offers a striking appearance with clean lines and aggressive design choices. While the fastback design may make this model look like a coupe, especially given the way the doors are designed, this is a sedan through and through. The body is made from an aluminum and carbon composite, making the concept light, which will help with performance.
The front-end features an active and aerodynamic front grille with a chrome edge that flows into the LED headlights. But these lights that draw inspiration from the brand’s signature human eye don’t just look great, they are also fully functional. Each LED is independently controlled for brightness, helping to illuminate the road ahead.
Open the portal-style doors and you enter a clean and luxurious interior. Infiniti has coined the phrase ‘4×1’ to describe the interior of the Q80 Inspiration Concept, showcasing the attention that was paid to each seat. Each passenger will find themselves in a standalone bucket seat featuring body-molding and soft Alcantara suede.
But while this concept may be beautiful inside and out, it also offers a host of technology components to make it one of the most advanced models produced by the brand. From autonomous driving features to driver-centric technology, the Infiniti Q80 Concept makes some waves in the premium sedan segment.
“The Q80 Inspiration liberates drivers through intelligent technology and simple execution, rather than confining them, taking over uninvited, and confusing them,” said Bancon. So just what does this new concept have to offer? On-demand support enables the driver to choose when they would like autonomous assistance, utilizing cameras, lasers, and other sensors. At low speeds, this technology will prompt the driver to choose between accelerate to overtake a vehicle, or brake and fall in behind the car in front. At higher speeds, a beep will indicate to the driver that there is a slower car entering the highway.
Throughout all this, the driver has the ability to choose what they would like to do; the vehicle isn’t choosing for them, leaving the driver in full control. Infiniti says it is this conversation that separates the Q80 Inspiration Concept from what is currently on the market.
Powering this latest concept is be a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 hybrid powertrain that delivers 550 horsepower. The gas engine benefits from the Adaptive Direct Response Hybrid system to give the 3.0-liter engine an electric boost, along with direct fuel injection. The drivetrain itself even has the ability to switch from rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive, depending on road conditions or a prompt from the driver.
Preliminary testing of this powertrain shows an eye-popping average 43 mpg, pushing the Q80 Inspiration Concept to the front of the segment in terms of fuel efficiency. Along with the ability to switch between all- and rear-wheel drive, 553 lb.-ft. of torque can be split between the front and rear axles to help when grip is limited. “Our performance hybrid is socially responsible, but when you need it, you have all the thrill and sensation you require. It’s the perfect blend of science and sustainability,” said Bancon.
We’ve seen other concepts from Infiniti like the Q50 Eau Rouge, and we think Infiniti is heading in the right direction. Building a performance lineup will help the automaker break into new segments, and with the right products and features, we may be seeing these models in dealerships before we know it.