PARIS -- Infiniti showed a zealous new commitment to one of its oldest and most underperforming models, spotlighting a concept that will be the template for the next QX50 crossover.
The luxury maker’s QX Sport Inspiration concept, shown here Thursday, uses deeply contoured body panels and a back-sloping roofline to create a crossover with a sports-car influence. The front end ties the vehicle to the new, large-grille Q60 coupe, while the rear captures a wide-stance racing look.
Infiniti showed the QX Inspiration in Beijing in April but with a slightly different design.
“We have redefined the brand,” said Roland Krueger, president of Infiniti, “and now you see the design that follows.”
The concept will go into production in 2018, Krueger said, along with a new advanced-technology, turbo-powered four-cylinder engine that Infiniti unveiled here Thursday.
The design represents the “future for all of our crossovers,” he said. But the most immediate opportunity will be the QX50 crossover.
Originally introduced as the EX35 in December 2007, the rear-wheel-drive, V-6-powered model was one of the industry’s first small luxury crossovers. It was highlighted by what were then cutting-edge technologies, including body paint that would “heal” after modest scratches.
But the model never sold well. It suffered from cramped rear seats and ho-hum fuel economy, selling only a few hundred units a month. Despite its performance, Infiniti allowed the model to continue on with the new QX50 name.
But last year, Infiniti introduced a re-engineered, longer-wheelbase QX50 with more rear legroom, and the model finally took off.
The next QX50 will no longer be front-wheel drive, freeing up its interior layout, while its smaller, variable compression-turbo, four-cylinder engine will require less engine compartment space.
The variable-compression engine is designed to maximize fuel economy by reserving high-compression performance until it’s called for. “The engine will give us the output of a V-6 in the efficiency of a four-cylinder engine,” Krueger said.
Company officials said the Infiniti VC-Turbo represents a family of more fuel-efficient, high-output engines to come.