INFINITI is muscling in on the four-door grand tourer segment, unveiling the Q80 Hybrid saloon that’s about the size of a Porsche Panamera, but “more nimble”.
The four-door hatchback, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show overnight and powered by a 373kW hybrid drivetrain, is based on a new aluminium and carbon fibre-clad platform that stretches more than five metres.
It is led by a more intricate double-arch grille, LED headlamps sweeping back to super-sharp shoulders, with a panoramic roof. Infiniti says the Q80's purpose is to announce the arrival of Nissan’s luxury arm into the larger model segment.
The overall design isn't as visually heavy, nor cluttered, as the city-sized Q30 Concept and current model. Instead, it moves closer in essence to the similarly long and low Emerg-E concept shown in 2012.
"It rivals in character or segmentation the derivative big boys - the [Porsche] Panamera, these kinds of cars," says design director Alfonso Albaisa.
"Yet really it's quite a different car to the Panamera when you have them next to each other. That car [the Panamera] is a very beautiful car, but it's quite solid and squared off. This car is a lot more nimble, and has more agility, and is much more lightweight."
The interior of the Q80 is a significant point of difference, and goes beyond the 'suicide' rear-door arrangement.
"When we make a hatchback of this size, we're really celebrating the rear passenger," says Albaisa.
The Q80’s rear pews are two individual, quilted-leather trimmed chairs sunk rearwards for more legroom and a more luxurious environment. Fitting the luxury slant, the show car includes a bottle of champagne nestled between the rear seats ‑ a far cry from a conventional bench seat.
Under the Infiniti Q80’s long bonnet is a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 hybrid drivetrain making 373kW, with the batteries cooled via the intricate wave on the C-pillar, and details such as copper in the exhaust, supposedly to enhance the Q80's engine note.
While not confirmed for production, the Q80 would be priced at around €80-90K ($A115-130K), making the Infiniti's cost of entry about the same as for the Porsche Panamera. Oh, and while there's still room in the Infiniti line-up for a Q90, the Red Bull Racing F1 car is officially known as the Q100.
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