NAIAS 2018 | Episode 12 : Infinity

Infiniti made a big statement with its Inspiration concept, which is a large four-door, fastback sedan.  The feeling is one of smooth flowing curves and shapes, even though the front end (which hints at an electric powertrain), has quite a few hard edges with large front intakes and feature lines emanating from the grille and extending around the A-pillars and into the belt line.  The windshield glass extends in a continuous sweep over the roof and almost all the way to the edge of the decklid.  The interior is suitably clean and modern to match the exterior and features the de rigueur wall-to-wall flat display screens front and rear.

Also from Infiniti was the new Q50 SUV.  It is very much an evolutionary design, but attractive non-the-less.  The lower edges of the clamshell hood extend into the bodyside A-Line and through the door handles.  Strong “bulging” creases extend up the hood from the grille to the A-Pillars, where they sweep down under the mirrors and into the belt-line.  The signature shape at the trailing edge of the window is elegantly executed.  The interior flows nicely from IP to console and IP to doors.

NAIAS 2017 | Episode 11 : Nissan – Infinity

Nissan revealed the stunning Vmotion 2.0 large sports sedan concept. It is another one of our favourites from this show. The concept features what Nissan calls “Emotional Geometry” design language and defines the future styling direction for the brand. It is an evolution from the V-motion front-end design that we see on today’s cars. Predictably Nissan says that the concept incorporates “Intelligent Mobility Technology” – a must for every concept these days……

The sharp and aggressive surface language has crisp character lines throughout and the 3D shapes create a striking volume and architecture. The black roof that extends in a bold sweep from the middle of the hood (using black paint) to the deck lid is framed on either side by carbon ’pillars’ that incorporate silver threads adding a distinctive sparkle. This sparkle is repeated in carbon inserts on the wheels. The generous cabin with acres of wood is fully revealed by the ubiquitous show car trick of using ‘suicide’ rear doors and no B-Pillar. We like the bold shapes and design details, especially in the C-Pillar and tail lamp areas. Very nice.

Over on the Infinity display we saw the QX50 concept that is the product of ongoing collaboration with Daimler and shares underpinnings with the GLA and upcoming GLB. The concept reflects about 90% of the late 2017 production version that will be built in Mexico alongside its Mercedes stable mates.

The Infinity brand is all about driving and technology — or so we are told. The design language is “Powerful Elegance”. The proportions of the QX50 are driven by the front drive, transverse engine layout resulting in a short front overhang. To offset this factor the bold grille flows into prominent hood creases that sweep up and around the A-Pillar and into the belt line and all the way to the rear lamps. A lower A-Line crease flows from the headlamps and fades towards the edge of the rear door where it is ‘replaced’ by a pronounced feature line that rises up and over the rear wheel. The lights are distinctive front and rear.

The interior breaks new ground for Infinity. Gone is the so-called “dual cocoon”, which has been replaced by more driver orientation and a roomier feeling passenger side. “Dot” quilting was new and interesting on the seats and doors, with sweeping accent trim and multiple colour materials and leathers adding to the ambiance.

NAIAS 2015 : AMERICA IS BACK ! – Part V [end]

Acura made the biggest splash among the Japanese brands with the long awaited production version of the Acura NSX.  The car is stunning, as well as being a technological tour de force.  Interestingly, the production design was completed in the US by a team led by Michelle Christensen, the engineering/development was done in the US and the manufacturing will be conducted in a new ‘craft centre’ at the Honda plant in Ohio.  Full marks to Honda for allowing the vehicle to be developed outside Japan and in its major market.  The final version is faithful to the concept model, even though the packaging went through several iterations to accommodate various different powertrain permutations and the dimensions grew in both length and width.  The end result is suitably dramatic from all angles — if only we could drive one.
During the press days Honda displayed their fuel cell concept, presumably to match the one also found on the Toyota stand.  Neither car is particularly attractive, but they are distinctive and standing out is certainly an appropriate goal for a vehicle powered by this future technology.  Now all we need is a hydrogen infrastructure……..
Honda also demonstrated their racing prowess with a display featuring the Honda powered 2014 Indy 500 winner and the 1965 Mexican GP winning F1 car.  We look forward to the return of Honda to F1 this season.
Toyota displayed the FT-1 concept car again — this time with gunmetal grey metallic paint.  Frankly it looked a lot better than with last year’s red paint job.  The big introduction for Toyota in Detroit was the new mid-sized Tacoma truck.  No big design breakthroughs here so let’s move on to Lexus.  The signature “bobbin” grilles are getting bigger and bigger, but they are still hard to love.  If you can get past the grilles, there are some decent looking products available from this brand — the GSF 4-door and the RCF coupe being two great examples.  The ground hugging GT3 racing version of the RCF coupe painted in bright white made a dramatic statement and a strong declaration of intent.
Nissan’s big news was also on the truck side of the business with the introduction of an all-new Titan full-sized pick-up.  Neither Nissan nor Toyota have been as successful in the large truck market as they expected, but this is probably another step in the right direction for Nissan, especially with a brand new V8 Cummins diesel available under the hood.
The Infiniti Q60 concept was one of the most interesting designs at the show.  The Q60 is 2-door coupe (yes, really!) with strong and interesting design cues from front to rear.  The front end is dramatic, with sinister ‘hooded’ headlamps, a bold grille with a large illuminated emblem and two large lower air intakes with integrated fog lamps terminating in bold character lines sweeping up towards the headlamps.  The side view is equally strong with big wheels, deep sculptured panels and an interesting quarter window termination.  The theme continues in the rear with bold shapes around the exhausts an integrated decklid spoiler and taillamps that echo the “hooded eyes” of the front.  Let’s hope they build this one!
It is good to see the success of Jaguar/Land Rover under Tata management.  Jaguar introduced the XE sedan (a BMW 3-Series fighter) at the show to complete their range of handsome sedans.  The XE has the appearance of being a little bigger than the BMW, but in our opinion it is the best looking of the three cars.  Land Rover came to the show with the latest version of the Discovery and some new diesel powered models.


All in all the Detroit show was good this year.  The atmosphere was upbeat and confident with some stunning designs to grab our attention.  The 4 cars that stood out for us were the Ford GT, the Acura NSX, the Buick Avenir and the Infiniti Q60.
Now it is on to Geneva.


On the first press day, Nissan displayed the IDx Freeflow and Nismo concepts that debuted in Tokyo last year.  This concept was an exercise in co-creation and was developed in close coordination with target customers from the “digital native generation”  — those born after 1990. They proposed a simple, ideally proportioned 3-box design, without legacy references.   Although it looked fresh, it did remind us of some older Datsun products, especially the B210.   A little bit « vintage », just enough retro…This might work in Japan, but we don’t see it as a global product.
On the second media day, Nissan unveiled the SSC or Sport Sedan Concept that is being positioned as a pre-curser to the Maxima replacement.  Resplendent in ‘Strad-Amber’ orange paint, it made quite a statement and is way sportier looking than the present Maxima.  The SSC might be overdone for that segment of the market and for many people at the show, but isn’t the whole point of a concept vehicle to stretch the thinking of both the designers and the customers?  We would expect that the aggressive “V-Motion” front end with flying V (some say boomerang) headlamps would be toned down for the production car, but its key feature, a long floating roof extending almost to the rear of the decklid is probably going to be retained to a significant extent.  This roofline gives the impression of a streamlined cabin with a substantial lower body.  The SSC and the Toyota FT-1 put the industry on notice that the Japanese manufacturers are intent on taking a new styling direction away from dull cars and into a dramatic new era.
Infinity unveiled the ‘in your face’ Q50 Eau Rouge, a four door sports sedan clearly targeted at Mercedes Benz AMG models and BMW M Series.  With a suitable powertrain – say from the Nissan GTR, this car could take the fight to establishment in Europe.  With the name, the F1 accents front and rear, great wheels, carbon fiber galore and Sebastian Vettel as the Director of Performance, this could really work.  There is a lot of uniqueness from the Q50, but let’s hope Infinity can make financial sense of this – it looks like fun.  By the way, inside there is red infused carbon fiber on the doors and the center console; outside the color was created by spraying 24 coats of red-tinted clear over a silver base coat.
Lexus should watch their friends at Infinity a little more closely.  The Infinity Q30 hatchback, compact SUV concept (yes, another one) in an interesting shade of copper is an example of how it should be done.  The vehicle is dramatic without being overdone.  The forms, proportions and features are exciting yet the vehicle looks real and production ready.  In this genre, Infinity may have one of the best solutions.