It’s all future-vision for the Nissan group at the North American International Auto Show as its premium Infiniti brand hits the stage with the QX Inspiration concept, offering a preview of a crossover that’s set to become the marque’s first fully electric vehicle.
The head of the design team on this concept has a Canadian connection: Karim Habib, Executive Design Director for Infiniti, was born in Lebanon but raised in Montreal.
Not a lot has been said about what an eventual production vehicle might be capable of at this stage, apart from the fact that it has electric all-wheel drive thanks to a pair of motors much like the drive system proposed in the Nissan IMs concept unveiled earlier in the day. It will be based on an entirely new platform in which the powertrain is housed under the body between the axles to give the vehicle a unique shape.
Therefore, much of the concept is a design exercise. Infiniti says that it draws on the Japanese spatial concept of "ma" based on the idea that open spaces between lines create tension and build anticipation.
The exterior follows many of the same design cues as the Q Inspiration sedan concept. The cab-forward stance and aerodynamic shapes are “characterized by straight lines and sudden creases, finely balanced, with smooth surfaces and organic shapes” that the brand says is “muscular yet composed; less overtly aggressive, yet bold in its details.”
Since an open grille is no longer required in an electric vehicle, it has been replaced by and illuminated Infiniti logo and air-diverting channels surrounded by thin headlamp strips with laser-like etchings. They have “a highly technical pattern echoed throughout the interior and exterior” that’s also used in the wing-shaped light strip that spreads across the tailgate. There is no B-pillar as reverse-hinged rear doors allow for improved access.
The interior is influenced by omotenashi, the Japanese approach to hospitality, using the space created by a fully electric platform to create a “spacious, lounge-like interior.” Hand-crafted using traditional techniques, materials are “inspired by a subtle Japanese sensuality.”
A widescreen rectangular display in the steering wheel is a centrepiece for a forward cabin packed with screens and technology, including displays for rear-facing door-mounted cameras, navigation, traffic systems, and vehicle diagnostics. The centre console transitions from marble into a display surface at the base of the dashboard.
The second row, on the other hand, has no technology at all apart from lighting, done deliberately to create a screen-free space. The roof is finished in Japanese red cedar, and the white suede floor (we’ll give parents a moment to recover from that shock) adopts kintsugi gold inlays between panels.
“Global demand for SUVs continues to grow, as does the number of drivers eager to make the shift to an electrified powertrain. QX Inspiration meets at the intersection of these trends and sets a direct precedent for the launch of a powerful all-electric SUV,” said Christian Meunier, President and Chairman, Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.
That name may sound familiar – Meunier was the President of Nissan Canada from January 2013 to January 2016. He took over the top role at Infiniti just last week.
E-power uses a gas engine to charge electric powertrain. The brand’s stated goal for its lineup is to “consist of a range of electric, e-POWER and performance hybrid vehicles” with dedicated platforms and vehicle architectures. All Infiniti products are said to have an electrified option by 2021.