Porsche Panamera rival spearheads new model push that also includes affordable new Q20 entry level model
27 October 2014

Infiniti has confirmed plans to bookend its line-up with both a range-topping Q80 saloon and an entry-level Q20 hatchback.

The two new models form part of plans to significantly increase its brand awareness and global sales, some 25 years after it first arrived on the luxury car scene

The ambitious new model push, first hinted to at the Paris motor show last month, is set to see Infiniti’s arresting Q80 Inspiration concept, featured here in a series of exclusive pictures, head into production as a rival to cars like the Porsche Panamera and upcoming Audi A9.

At the same time, Nissan-backed Infiniti is also mulling over various design proposals of a compact Q20 model to go up against the likes of the Audi A1 and Mini Cooper.

European boss Francois Goupil de Bouillé says a production version of the Q80 concept is the clear priority in Infiniti’s future new model plans. "The Q80 Inspiraton is more than a design study, this is our entry into the large saloon segment," he revealed to Autocar. 

"Our intention is to put as much as possible of it on the road, maybe as much as 90 per cent of the concept."

Reiterating Goupil de Bouillé’s sentiments, Infiniti product strategy boss Francois Bancon said: “This is the highest portfolio entry for Infiniti and our vision to compete with a unqiue approach. 

“The Q80 Inspiration is how we see the future in the higher end of our portfolio.”

Bancon says the average age of Infiniti customers is 54, which is younger than its rivals. The production Q80 is planned to target customers who want a large luxury car but don't want a Mercedes-Benz S-class or BMW 7-series because that's the sort of car their parents drive.

The initial proportional models for the Q80 Inspiration were produced at a newly established Infiniti satellite design studio in London, under the eyes of former Cadillac design boss Simon Cox. 

The styling was then finalised at the company’s main design studio in Japan under Alfonso Albaisa.  

At 5052mm in length, 2027mm in width and 1350mm in height, the blueprint for the future Infiniti flagship is 82mm longer, 97mm wider and 70mm lower than the Porsche Panamera. Its chassis boasts a 3103mm wheelbase – 37mm shorter than the long wheelbase version of the Panamera sold in China.

As yet there is no official word on the what platform the production Q80 Inspiration will be based on, although indications are Infiniti could turn to Mercedes-Benz for a shared structure.

Speaking on the possibility of sourcing a platform for the new car, the head of the Renault-Nissan Alliance Jacques Verdonck said the company was considering extending its relationship with Mercedes-Benz to include rear-wheel drive platforms. "Their rear-drive platforms would make sense for economies of scale, though our tuning would have to be different," he said.

The Q80 Inspiration showcases a new hybrid powertrain Infiniti intends to place into production in a number of different models within the next two to three years. 

It consists of a longitudinally-mounted twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 direct injection petrol engine that produces 444bhp and an electric motor with 99bhp, giving the big four door a total system output of 543bhp.

Drive is sent through a newly developed nine-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive system. 

Infiniti says the aim is to provide the eventual production version with the “highest performance in its segment”. This hints at a 0-62mph time and top speed to challenge the 562bhp twin-turbocharged 4.8-litre V8 powered Panamera Turbo S, which comes with claimed figures of 3.8sec and 193mph.

Thanks to its ability to run on electric power via a lithium ion battery pack, Infiniti’s computer simulations also point to impressive fuel economy and emission credentials for its potential new model at 51.4mpg and a CO2 rating of 129g/km.

Hinting at plans to include autonomous driving technology on the production version of the Q80 Inspiration, the concept uses a network of cameras, lasers and sensors to suggest actions to the driver via an audible tone and a head up display unit. 

The passenger also receives their own head up display unit, which can project the information contained in a connected smart phone onto the windscreen. The rear seat passengers get their own individual touch screen monitors.

While the Q80 Inspiration forms the basis of Infiniti’s plans at the top end, it is also focusing heavily on the more affordable end of its line-up. 

Next year it plans to add the Q30 to its ranks. Based on the same front-wheel drive platform as that used by the Mercedes-Benz A-, B-, CLA- and GLA-class, it is being looked upon to significantly increase the company’s sales in Europe.

The even smaller Q20 also remains under consideration, and is likely to be based on a joint platform currently being developed by Renault-Nissan and Mercedes-Benz called the JC1 structure.

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Our Verdict

Infiniti Q50

Is this less individualist Infiniti saloon more of a threat to German rivals?

27 October 2014
Infiniti has been around for 25 years! I had no idea. I've ever seen 3 on the road. And I'm a keen car spotter.

27 October 2014
The Infiniti G series made the No.1 spot in the Car and Driver "Top 10 cars" first in 2003 and stayed in the top 10 for many years and was always compared with the top BMW 3 series model.

Fadyady fancies himself as a Car spotter - but should recognise that the British market is limited in the extreme. Infiniti has a strong record in the first decade of this century.

In 2003 - 6th spot ahead of Porsche Boxster. 2004 - 8th. 2007 - 6th. 2009 - 7th.

In the mid 2000s - The G35/G37 alone was scoring annual sales of over 100,000 cars.

Just in case Fadyady is unaware, Car and Driver is probably the nearest US Equivalent of Autocar. C&D was founded in 1955 and has current circulation of 1.23 million. Autocar was first published in 1895, and has a quoted circulation (2013) of 37,783 (and falling).

Malo Mori Quam Foedari

27 October 2014
RPrior wrote:

The Infiniti G series made the No.1 spot in the Car and Driver "Top 10 cars" first in 2003 and stayed in the top 10 for many years and was always compared with the top BMW 3 series model.

Fadyady fancies himself as a Car spotter - but should recognise that the British market is limited in the extreme. Infiniti has a strong record in the first decade of this century.

In 2003 - 6th spot ahead of Porsche Boxster. 2004 - 8th. 2007 - 6th. 2009 - 7th.

In the mid 2000s - The G35/G37 alone was scoring annual sales of over 100,000 cars.

Just in case Fadyady is unaware, Car and Driver is probably the nearest US Equivalent of Autocar. C&D was founded in 1955 and has current circulation of 1.23 million. Autocar was first published in 1895, and has a quoted circulation (2013) of 37,783 (and falling).

Yes the original G35 saloon and coupe really has been the only car to take it to the 3 series. Nice distinctive somewhat alternative looks and a great drive. Shame Infiniti has not built on this cars success. Check out the original FX which was sold stateside, a stunning looking SUV.

27 October 2014
...It's a tacky old brute isn't it?

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