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.


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.