Infiniti’s next-gen QX50 crossover is seen as the car that could change the fortunes of Nissan’s still obscure premium brand. The concept car revealed at Detroit hints at what to expect.
The Infiniti QX50 Concept is a reimagined version of the 2016 QX Sport Inspiration, adapted to showcase a future production model.
The concept’s emphasis is on the 'driver-centric, passenger-minded' cabin, designed in harmony with the exterior shape The design exercise also previews the brand’s autonomous driver assistance technology and variable compression (VC-Turbo) engine.
Externally it’s not as striking as most concept cars, including the QX Sport Inspiration; Infinity avoids the starkness of other premium SUVs in favour of cleaner lines, which aren’t necessarily as original as the carmaker claims. That said, Infiniti's signature design elements are evident on the QX50 Concept, including the double-arch grille in front of the curved bonnet that’s “shaped like the rise of a snake's head”.
The edges of the grille disguise the bonnet's relatively short length, suggesting a production car could be adapted for more compact drivetrains, such as Infiniti's economical but powerful VC-Turbo petrol engine.
The interior has flowing shapes that complement exterior lines and demonstrates Infiniti's take on premium crossover interior design and materials, with polished wood replaced by contemporary ash timber, leather and stitching.
The cabin has a handmade feel and is the result of two Japanese approaches to craftsmanship: 'mitate' – the practice of curating and bringing together the best materials – and 'shitate', the desire to tailor the combination of materials, bringing out the best.
Infiniti has even applied for a patent for a new 'dot quilting' method for the leather that lines the doors and seats.
The 'driver-centric' and 'passenger-minded' layout of the QX50 Concept's cabin is divided into distinct zones for driver and passengers.
The dashboard wraps around the driver and passenger, while the Graphic User Interface shows how new tech could be incorporated into future Infiniti cabins.