The Infiniti Q Inspiration concept previews a Tesla‑fighting EV beauty
Infiniti wants to out-Tesla Tesla with a sleek new electric saloon in the showrooms around 2019 but previewed here in a concept car set to star at the first motor show of 2018, in Detroit from January 15th.
The Infiniti Q Inspiration concept promises to be a watershed moment for Nissan’s luxury unit, heralding not just zero tailpipe emissions but also a new design language for Infiniti, created by design chief Karim Habib.
With obvious sporty stance plus hints of Porsche Panamera in the sloping roofline and wide strip of rear lights, the Q Inspiration gives the popular four-door coupe look the Infiniti treatment, but with much cleaner and simpler surface treatments than Infiniti has delivered in the past. Without quite so much going on in the styling, the Q Inspiration previews a handsome new Infiniti look.
The proportions are new too, thanks to a bespoke new electric vehicle architecture that makes the most of the new layout, with likely (but unconfirmed) motors front and rear and battery pack under the floor. Infiniti’s long-championed ‘sportscar look’ with a long bonnet and stumpy tail is replaced by a far more cab-forward design.
“Experimenting with new proportions with the arrival of smarter, compact powertrains, the Q Inspiration features a shorter bonnet and elongated body, with all the benefits to interior wellbeing, comfort and space that this layout entails,” says Karim Habib. “Its long cabin, balanced proportions and muscular stance herald a new era for Infiniti models.”
An electric Infiniti has been a long time coming, a fact which has surprised many given that parent Nissan came up with the world’s best-selling EV, the Leaf, as long ago as 2010. A rebodied Infiniti version of the Leaf, shown as the LE concept in 2012 and promised to be in production for 2014 as the “first premium EV”, was canned. The electric Infiniti for 2019 is certain to use a bespoke EV platform, just as all the premium players are now doing.
In Detroit at the North American International Auto Show the Q Inspiration will be shown alongside one of the real concept car highlights of 2017 – the mad but wonderful Prototype 9 fantasy historic race car. Under its 1940s inspired open-wheeler body was… you guessed – an electric drivetrain. This has since appeared in production in Leaf MkII, but the technology behind it may well have a higher purpose: to teach Tesla a lesson in the premium market.
In 2012 Infiniti exclaimed: “We believe there will be a market for luxury EVs and we intend to be an industry leader.” Only the first part of that has come true so far. Will the Q Inspiration when productionised be the making of Infiniti in Europe at last?