Let’s talk about Infiniti. Remember them? They’re to Nissan what Lexus is to Toyota. Coincidentally, both Infiniti and Lexus can trace their roots back to 1989 when both companies were designed to appeal to well-heeled American buyers. They were (slowly) introduced to the New Zealand market back in 2012 but official distribution started in 2017.
As of August last year they only sold 47 vehicles domestically. It’s no surprise then that Infiniti have decided to pull out of the wildly competitive Australian and New Zealand markets shifting their focus more on North America, China, Middle East, and Russia. So it was quite odd to get an invitation from them to see their new QX60 Monograph concept which made its global debut at Nissan’s headquarters in Yokohama earlier today.
The reason being, Infiniti have moved their HQ back to Yokohama after 12 years of being based in Hong Kong. I’m not quite sure either but now that Nissan and Infiniti are back under one roof the guys at Infiniti thought it was fit to get to know local media as well as showcasing their new concept car.
It’s a far cry from the outgoing QX60 which was basically a fancier version of the Nissan Pathfinder you’ll find roaming leafy suburban roads. Whilst I’m grossly uneducated when it comes to the Infiniti lineup, I do recall seeing a fair few amount of the outgoing car during my trips to California so it’s safe to assume this premium three-row SUV is a key model for Infiniti.
The QX60 Monograph you see here is also meant to preview what to expect from the brand styling wise going forward. It’s an evolution of their current design language but with an emphasis on tidying up details, cleaner body surfacing, and even more nods to Japanese culture. Take the grille for example which is inspired by origami. Stephen Coughlan, Senior Manager of Global Communications at Infiniti, explained how the inspiration of the grille came from the art of original by “taking something flat and turning it into something three dimensional”.
Other cool details include the “piano key” styling on the headlights and taillights which are neat touches I’ve not seen before on a car. Hopefully these make in on to the production version. There certainly will be a production version, it’ll be expected sometime next year and will be sold as a 2022 model year car.
Infiniti were hush hush on the car’s powertrain but judging from the size of it I doubt it’ll share the underpinnings of Nissan’ recently debuted Ariya EV SUV. It’ll most likely be powered by the current crop of Infiniti’s petrol engines such as the 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo petrol with variable compression found in the QX50 or the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 found in the Q50 and Q60 mated to traditional automatic gearboxes.
As a little bonus Infiniti also displayed some cars from their past that led them to the QX60 Monograph including their first car the Q45. Next up was the FX45, a car Japan and New Zealand never got officially but a couple of stray cars have ended up on these shores. I’ve always liked these, partly because of the “forbidden fruit” factory but also because it was on Gran Turismo 4. It was somewhat ahead of its time with its coupe-like glasshouse, sleek and simple lines, and a focus on being sporty rather than a tall off-roader like its contemporary rivals. Then we get to the current QX50 SUV which introduced Infiniti’s VC turbocharged engine back in 2018.
With the QX60 Monograph, Infiniti has made its presence back in Japan known. It’ll be interesting to see where Infiniti goes moving forward with Nissan’s restructuring and whether it’ll adopt its parent company’s EV tech sooner rather than later. With them now being based in Japan, perhaps there’ll be a shift in strategic direction and they might actually start selling cars in Japan. Infiniti also hinted at a QX55 SUV-coupe debuting soon so watch this space.