Infiniti displays next-gen SUV with QX Sport Inspiration Concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 28, 2016

While the Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration is expected to set the tone for future models of its Infiniti QX line, the brand reveals that it is also set to explore its vision of what the next-generation and premium-sized SUV should be.

Design-wise, the Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration exhibits a powerful and elegant expression. With a profile similar to a coupe, the long bonnet, high visual center of gravity, muscular haunches, and tight lines ensure that the QX Sport Inspiration is able to stand out in its class.

Bearing the design hallmarks of the brand and inspired by the "Powerful Elegance" form language, the QX Sport Inspiration is unmistakably an Infiniti. This is clear especially with the fluid and masculine body sculpting, the focused headlamps shaped like human eyes, signature double-arch grille, and the C-pillar with the crescent-cut. Its interior is amazingly appointed and offers a lot of space characterized by advanced craftsmanship and flowing lines.

This is in line with the attitude of the brand when it comes to cabin architecture which is to be driver-centric and passenger-minded. The interior is colored mainly in black and white with certain flashes of the leather’s natural tan color. While this makes the combination of colors striking, it manages to naturally blend due to the use of texture, line, and form.

Exterior Design

The mid-size SUV market has long been considered to be one of the largest and even fastest-growing of the premium segments in the world. Through the QX Sport Inspiration, Infiniti hopes to be able to explore further the possibility of being able to expand its portfolio. Infiniti has a strong history when it comes to SUV design. An example of this is the Infiniti FX45 which was released in 2003, and being a ground-breaking vehicle became the template of many sporting SUVs for the next 10 years.

Since the FX was considered as the first multi-purpose mid-size sports vehicle, it is not surprising that it remains to be respected even today as an SUV design icon. With this market segment becoming more popular and crowded, the brand hopes that the QX Sport Inspiration will build on the SUV heritage of the brand and thus produce more excitement for Infiniti. The development of the QX Sport Inspiration was motivated by the Powerful Elegance form language of the brand in addition to the muscular haunches, short overhangs, and taut lines. As a result, the core of the QX Sport Inspiration is its dynamic capability. Its lean-forward stance is brought on by its visual weight and its smooth and long hood.

With the ground clearance now raised to 9.1 inches (230 mm), it promises off-road versatility and the cruising comfort and on-road in-control driving characteristics that one can expect from Infiniti models. This particular concept has a purposeful and lean form as well as a wide stance and short overhang in the front. In terms of dimension, the concept measures 181.1 inches (4,600 mm) long and excluding its rear-view cameras, 74.8 inches (1,900 mm) wide. Infiniti has launched a number of new models recently that adhere closely to the form and philosophy of concept models - notably the Q30, the QX30 and the Q60.

All share a suite of signature design cues that help ensure that each is immediately recognizable as an Infiniti. The Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration evolves these signature design elements, including a new interpretation of Infiniti's hallmark "crescent-cut" C-pillar, where the leading edge of the crescent is raised - echoing that of the acclaimed Q80 Inspiration Concept. Bringing added emphasis to this feature, the curvature of the C-pillars is mirrored in the lines of the rear hatch window. Looking closer at the outline, the bodywork narrows down starting from the roof and all through the rear hatch. In addition, it has to be angled in order to highlight the coupe-like and lean-forward profile. In fact, the roof has a maximum height of 64.9 inches (1,650 mm).

On the front, one can see the brand’s all too familiar double-arch grille and even the brand’s signature design focus and high-performance "human-eye" headlamps. Just above the grille is a line that goes through the headlamps and then to the edge of its hood. This results in the formation of a character line which goes over the flared and wide wheel arches on the front all the way across the flanks and to the narrow rear.

Tapering to the center of the hatchback panel are the three-dimensional tail lamps shaped like blades. This mirrors the organic forms that are obvious on the exterior. The QX Sport Inspiration’s exterior has different design details that while pleasing to look at, also have a clear function. A good example of this is the recessed step that is placed on top of the sills on the two sides of the vehicle. In terms of function, this step helps the driver and the passengers go in and out the vehicle. Design-wise, the step has a gloss-black finish and aids in reducing the bodywork’s apparent depth while lifting the vehicle’s visual center of gravity in order to result in what appears to be a "go anywhere" SUV-like look.

Integrated to its front fender are the vertical and large vents shaped-like blades. This helps highlight the concept’s width while helping cooling air go to its front brakes. At the back of its wheel arches on the front is another set of vertical vents. This is designed in the same way as previous concepts form Infiniti. It also has an aerodynamic purpose as its helps it to extract any drag-inducing and turbulent air from its front wheel arches.

Its performance-inspired rear diffuser is another example of a design feature that manages to artfully mix function and form. This has been integrated with its exhaust outlets and helps with the efficiency of the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

The A-pillars are slim and have the appearance as if they’re floating. At its base are the rear-facing small cameras placed in sleek housings and installed to serve as a replacement for the standard rear-view mirrors. The glass roof is where the A-pillars rise and flank it. It then extends starting from the header rail and all the way to the rear hatch. Meanwhile the roof has a Cosmic Chrome gradation which manages to visually blend the glasshouse with the rear roof spoiler. This allows it to have a unique aesthetic feature while helping manage the cabin’s interior.

Interior Design

One of the main principles when it comes to Infiniti design is to have an interior that is driver-centric and even passenger-minded. This is seen in the QX Sport Inspiration especially with the handcrafted and beautiful cabin. In order to start the groundwork especially for future Infiniti models, the interior implements unique zones for its driver and the passengers. The front section for instance puts emphasis on the driver resulting in a true sense of control and confidence.

Since the interior architecture is oriented horizontally, it stimulates a feeling of togetherness especially with the lines that envelop the cabin’s upper portions. Since it utilizes a four-seat layout, it provides all passengers with their very own personal space in the interior. There is an available fifth seat placed on the rear bench that can be used when needed. Even with the coupe-like roofline and the compact footprint, it also offers a number of features that make sure all the passengers inside are able to enjoy the travel.

These include the wheelbase that measures 110.2 inches (2,800 mm) and the front and rear seats which have been suspended to make sure that the cabin’s floor had enough space. Opening the doors, one can see that the recessed sill-step is on the same level as that of the cabin’s floor which helps give it a sense of openness. It also references the harmony that exists between the exterior and interior.

There is a twisting character line that starts from the front of the cabin which flows to its rear and then tumbles down at its B-pillar. This design is both inspired by and echoes the organic lines seen on the exterior. In order to mirror the natural and organic curves on the interior and exterior, designers at Infiniti experimented with a number of cabin materials and then used them to dictate some of the forms that resulted from it.

With the QX Sport Inspiration’s interior having a two-tone black-and-white motif, the black surfaces get a look like that of body armor which plays off against the white surfaces and its gentle and soft forms. A number of the surfaces in the cabin have been covered in tough black saddle leather that designers then used to control the shapes and structure of the luggage-space cover, armrests, lower dashboard, and central control stack.

The way the material is shaped, its finish, and the thickness helps highlight the leather’s natural feel and further emphasize the handcrafted look of the cabin. Most of the black hard saddle leather surfaces have been scored in order to duplicate the sharp angles seen in a crystal prism. The same black hard saddle leather also lines the kickplates and floor. It even has the back-lit laser-cut Infiniti logos that can be seen upon entry.

The upper dashboard makes use of white leather. This is the same material used for the harder matt leather, which with its concave finish that lines the doors, helps add to its visual texture; that is, light and shade. While the multi-function steering wheel has a Nubuck leather finish, the lining on the panoramic roof and the A-pillars on the other have a black Ultra-suede finish. Its black leather contrasts with the white leather but has been sewn together using silver stitching. Using the Q80 Inspiration Concept as the basis, the leather’s natural tan color also provides a contrast and goes around the top of its doors and dashboard.

It even goes around on the leather which lines the vehicle’s floor. Meanwhile the color gradation of its glass roof helps act as a shade for the passengers in the rear even under bright sunlight. Even so, it still offers an airy and light atmosphere. With the layout of the cabin being driver-centric, and the addition of minimalist controls, this ensures that the driver can put extra attention on the simple pleasures of driving.

In fact, the mesh of its air vents has the simple ventilation controls embedded to it. Using the metal paddle-shifters that have been mounted at the back of the steering wheel, it allows the driver to be able to change gears. The driving modes can be switched through the use of a dial located on its center console. Just within view of the driver are two compact monitors that have been incorporated to its A-pillars. It is in these monitors that the images captured on its two rear-facing cameras are projected. These rear-facing cameras have been installed in order to replace the mirrors on the door. In the middle of the front seats is the small touchscreen panel that allows the passengers seating in the rear to have ventilation controls of their own.

Press Release

QX Sport Inspiration: A daring new SUV vision from Infiniti

The Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration is an elegant and powerful expression of progressive SUV design. Laying down markers for future Infiniti QX models, the QX Sport Inspiration explores the brand's vision for a next-generation, premium mid-size SUV.

The QX Sport Inspiration stands out in its segment with its taut lines, muscular haunches, high visual center of gravity, long bonnet and raked, coupe-like silhouette. Immediately recognizable as an Infiniti, the QX Sport Inspiration is inspired by Infiniti's "Powerful Elegance" form language and bears the brand's design hallmarks – including the signature double-arch grille, focused "human eye" headlamps, "crescent-cut" C-pillar and masculine, fluid body sculpting.

Flowing lines and advanced craftsmanship characterize the spacious and beautifully appointed interior, which follows Infiniti's "driver-centric, passenger-minded" approach to cabin architecture. The interior's color palette – predominantly black and white with flashes of the hide's natural tan color – is striking, yet harmoniously blended through careful use of line, form, and texture.

"The QX Sport Inspiration is a statement of intent from Infiniti, showcasing a daring design philosophy and a demonstration of our capabilities in the mid-size SUV segment."
Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti.

QX Sport Inspiration in detail

Exploring Infiniti's vision for a next-generation SUV
With the QX Sport Inspiration, Infiniti has started to explore the potential to expand its portfolio in the mid-size SUV market – one of the world's largest and fastest-growing premium segments.

Infiniti boasts a strong history in SUV design – the pioneering Infiniti FX45, launched in 2003, set the template for sporting SUVs over the following decade. Regarded as the world's first mid-size multi-purpose sports vehicle, the FX is still considered an SUV design icon today. In an increasingly crowded and popular market segment, the QX Sport Inspiration seeks to build on Infiniti's SUV heritage and generate further excitement for the brand.

"The QX Sport Inspiration comes at a time when Infiniti continues to expand its product portfolio globally – into new and popular segments. We design concept cars with true production potential, and the QX Sport Inspiration offers a vision of how Infiniti could bring something exciting and new to the mid-sized SUV segment."
Francois Bancon, Infiniti Vice President Product Strategy

Exterior design that expresses power and purpose
"The QX Sport Inspiration expresses power and purpose through what we describe as its 'proportional clarity', with an elegance that is uniquely Infiniti. The exterior design will appeal to an artistic sensibility. It has a more flowing, natural aesthetic than that evident in traditional premium SUVs."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

Inspired by Infiniti's Powerful Elegance form language, taut lines, short overhangs and muscular haunches endow the QX Sport Inspiration with a purposeful aura that hints at its dynamic capability. The long, smooth hood draws the eye back over the vehicle and the visual weight builds over the car's haunches to reinforce the "lean-forward" stance.

The concept promises off-road versatility, aided by its raised, 230 mm (9.1 in) ground clearance, as well as the empowering, in-control on-road driving characteristics and cruising comfort that is expected of any Infiniti. The concept features a lean, purposeful form, with a short front overhang and wide stance – total width (excluding rear-view cameras) is 1,900 mm (74.8 in), while length is 4,600 mm (181.1 in).

Infiniti has launched a number of new models recently which adhere closely to the form and philosophy of concept models – notably the Q30, the QX30 and the Q60. All share a suite of signature design cues that help ensure each is immediately recognizable as an Infiniti.

The QX Sport Inspiration evolves these signature design elements, including a new interpretation of Infiniti's hallmark "crescent-cut" C-pillar, where the leading edge of the crescent is raised – echoing that of the acclaimed Q80 Inspiration Concept. Bringing added emphasis to this feature, the curvature of the C-pillars is mirrored in the lines of the rear hatch window.

In profile the bodywork tapers down from the Concept's roof (1,650 mm – 64.9 in – maximum height) toward a rear hatch that has been angled to accentuate the vehicle's "lean-forward," coupe-like silhouette.

At the front, the line from the top of Infiniti's familiar double-arch grille extends through the sharp, high-performance, focused "human-eye" headlamps – another Infiniti signature design theme – around the edge of the hood to form a character line that runs over the wide, flared front wheel arches and along the flanks to the tapered rear.

Three-dimensional "blade-shaped" tail lamps taper inwards to the center of the hatchback panel, echoing the organic forms apparent elsewhere on the exterior.

Stand-out elements blend form and function
"For Infiniti, the definition of 'elegance' can be the most sophisticated solution to a complex engineering or aerodynamic challenge, as well as a statement of striking aesthetics. This drives our instinct to create designs that are both beautiful and useful."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

The exterior of the QX Sport Inspiration is notable for numerous design details that are visually striking while also fulfilling a clear functional purpose. For example, located above the sills on both sides of the car is a recessed step. As well as aiding ingress and egress for driver and passengers, this step – finished in gloss-black – reduces the apparent depth of the bodywork and raises the Concept's visual center of gravity for a "go anywhere" SUV-like appearance.

Large vertical "blade-shaped" vents are integrated into the front fender, highlighting the width of the Concept while also admitting cooling air to the front brakes. Another pair of vertical vents, located behind the bold front wheel arches, reference those found on previous Infiniti concepts and also serve an aerodynamic purpose, extracting turbulent, drag-inducing air from the front wheel arches.

Another design feature artfully blending form and function is the performance-inspired rear diffuser, which aids aerodynamic efficiency and is careful integrated with the exhaust outlets.

At the base of the slim "floating" A-pillars, small rear-facing cameras in sleek housings replace conventional rear-view side mirrors. The A-pillars rise to flank the panoramic glass roof, which extends from the header rail to the rear hatch. The roof features a Cosmic Chrome™ gradation, visually blending the glasshouse into the rear roof spoiler, creating a distinctive aesthetic feature that also helps manage temperature within the cabin.

Handcrafted interior lays down guiding principles for future Infiniti cabins
In line with one of the core tenets of Infiniti design, the beautiful, handcrafted cabin of the QX Sport Inspiration is both "driver-centric and passenger-minded."

Laying the foundations for future Infiniti models, the striking interior is based around distinct zones for the passengers and the driver. The front section of the vehicle is focused on the needs of the driver, endowing a true sense of confidence and control. At the same time, the horizontally-biased interior architecture, with lines that wrap around the upper portions of the cabin, promotes a feeling of togetherness throughout.

The four-seat layout emphasizes the designers' desire to give all passengers their own personal space within the cabin, while a fifth seat in the center of the rear bench is available if needed. Despite the relatively compact footprint of the car and the coupe-like roofline, the floating front and rear seats – suspended to allow more space on the floor of the cabin – and the generous 2,800 mm (110.2 in) wheelbase allow all passengers to travel in comfort.

When the doors are opened it is possible to see how the recessed sill-step is level with the floor of the cabin, emphasizing a sense of openness and referencing the harmonization of interior and exterior design.

A strong, twisting character line flows from the front of the cabin to the rear, tumbling downwards at the B-pillar, inspired by and echoing the organic lines of the exterior.

Echoing the organic, natural contours of the exterior and interior, Infiniti's designers have experimented with different cabin materials, using them to dictate some of the resulting forms. The QX Sport Inspiration features a two-tone black-and-white interior, with black surfaces resembling the appearance of body armor, playing off against the soft and gentle forms of the brighter white surfaces.

"We experimented with a range of tailored and handcrafted materials throughout the interior, and our designers have used these different materials to dictate the form, contours and finish of the cabin. The combination of different types of leathers – both hard and soft to the touch – result in a more organic, natural finish."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

Many of the cabin's surfaces are wrapped in robust black saddle leather, which designers used to dictate the structure and shapes of the central control stack, as well as the lower dashboard, armrests, and luggage-space cover. The thickness, finish, and shaping of the material is used to accentuate the rich, natural feel of the leather and to emphasize the cabin's handcrafted appearance. Some of the hard black saddle leather surfaces are scored to replicate the sharp angles found in a crystal prism. Hard black saddle leather also lines the floor and kickplates, with laser-cut, back-lit Infiniti logos visible upon entry.

White leathers are used across the upper dashboard, including harder matt leather with a concave finish which lines the doors and adds visual texture – of shade and light. The multi-function steering wheel is finished in Nubuck leather, while the A-pillars and lining around the panoramic roof are all finished in black Ultra-suede®.

Contrasting black and white leathers are sewn together with silver stitching. Modelled on the Q80 Inspiration Concept, a contrasting tan edging – the hide's natural color – also runs around the top of the dashboard and doors, as well as around the leather that lines the floor.

The color gradation of the panoramic glass roof acts as a shade for passengers in the rear in bright sunlight, while still affording a light and airy ambience.

The cabin's driver-centric layout and minimalist controls are designed to allow the driver to focus more of their attention on the simple pleasure of driving. Clear and simple ventilation controls are embedded in the mesh of the air vents themselves.

Drivers can switch driving modes with a dial on the center console, and change gears with metal paddle-shifters mounted on rear of the steering wheel. Within easy view of the driver, a pair of compact monitors integrated into the A-pillars project the images captured on the two rear-facing cameras that replace the door mirrors. Between the front seats a small touchscreen panel provides rear-seat passengers with their own ventilation controls.

A global network of design studios working together
Infiniti is a truly international brand, with design, engineering and production facilities on three continents. As with all of its current production models, for the QX Sport Inspiration the company has been able to draw upon an eclectic mix of cultures and inspirations.

"We have worked hard to develop a creative design network that seeks to capture the imagination of people from around the world. By establishing a culture of exchange between all of our studios, Infiniti is able to design beautiful, expressive and progressive cars."
Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director

Infiniti operates a global network of design studios in Japan, the United Kingdom, China and the U.S. The company's design network takes inspiration from every region of the world, with each studio drawing on the characteristics of its respective region and providing a window into the needs and desires of its customers.

Infiniti's design studio in London, United Kingdom, evaluates and reflects modern European tastes and draws on traditional and modern interpretations of automotive luxury. The Beijing, China, design center tends to be particularly daring in its designs, challenging conventional notions of shape and balance. The Infiniti Design center in San Diego is situated in the brand's largest market, providing insights into the lifestyle of the USA's West Coast and the needs and desires of American car buyers in general. Finally, located in Atsugi, Japan, the company's central design center provides executive guidance for each of the other studios and shapes highly progressive yet production-realistic designs.

Topics: infiniti, concept, suv

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