2017 Infiniti QX50 Concept

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Introduced back in 2007 as the company’s first compactcrossover, the QX50 was known as the EX up until 2013. The renamed vehicle went on sale in the U.S. as a 2014 model and, for 2016, it received a new facelift and enhanced rear seat legroom. Although praised for its roomy interior and rich standard equipment list, the QX50 is often criticized for being nearly as expensive as its BMW and Mercedes-Benz competitors and for its somewhat dated exterior design. The latter will change starting 2017, when Infiniti is set to introduce the second-generation model.

Previewed at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show by the QX50 concept, the new crossover is heavily based on the QX Sport Inspiration that the Japanese company launched in 2016. It features Infiniti’s recent styling language, but it’s enhanced by a range of new design elements that have yet to debut on other models. On top of the restyled body work, the new QX50 will also bring new technology to the market, including the brand’s first semi-autonomous drive system, as well as a new turbocharged 2.0-liter engine with variable compression ratio. The later is a first for the automotive industry.

“With the unveiling of the QX Sport Inspiration at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, we showed the future of Infiniti QX models. The new QX50 Concept evolves this concept further and shows how Infiniti could develop its future presence in the fastest-growing vehicle segment globally,” said Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti.

There’s no word as to when the actual production model will make its global debut, but until that happens, let’s have a closer look at the production-ready concept.

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Continue reading to learn more about the Infiniti QX50 Concept.

Exterior

Described as an evolution of the QX Sport Inspiration study, the QX50 concept is actually almost identical to vehicle that Infiniti showcased in 2016. Up front, we can see several features that have been transferred from the QX Sport Inspiration, including the headlamps, the shape and size of the grille, the vertical intakes at the corners, and the engine hood. As far as features that set the QX50 apart, the grille has a slightly different mesh, while the bumper has revised air vents, new LED foglamps, and a larger skid plate.

Onto the sides, it appears that the Sport Inspiration was toned down for the QX50 badge, thus taking it closer to a production model. Specifically, the side cameras have been replaced with actual mirrors, while the side skirts have a more conventional design. The roof also appears to sit a bit higher, but fortunately, Infiniti didn’t meddle with the concept’s sporty lines, leaving the sloping roofline, the uniquely shaped quarter windows, and the beefy rear haunches in place.

Overall, the QX50 Concept looks as production-ready as they get.

Around back, the QX50 sports the same taillights and tailgate design of its predecessor, but stands out by means of added vents on each side of the fascia, a slightly larger roof spoiler, and a trapezoidal license plate recess. The Sport Inspiration’s aggressive difuser-like element was also redesigned to include a more SUV-like center section and smaller exhaust pipes. Also, the element is now finished in silver instead of the two-tone livery seen on the previous concept.

Overall, the QX50 Concept looks as production-ready as they get, and even though its design clearly includes cues seen on existing Infiniti vehicles, I think it looks fantastic. And I’m not a big fan of SUVs…

Interior

Infiniti didn’t publish pictures of the interior and had very little to say about it, but it’s safe to assume that it will be a pretty big departure from the Sport Inspiration, which showcases a rather futuristic approach. Specifically, don’t expect to see the same organic lines all over the place or the funky center console that splits in two just ahead of the dashboard to extend to the right, toward the passenger side. The seats should also have a different design. while the flat-bottom steering wheel should be replaced with a more conventional unit. I’m not saying that Infiniti might not offer a flat-bottom wheel on the range-topping model, but it won’t be as extreme as the concept car’s. As for the displays in the instrument cluster and center stack, they could be carried over in the production car as they don’t seem to stand out outside the fact that they’re larger than any screen found in Infiniti vehicles up until now.

Note: Infiniti QX Sport Inspiration Concept interior pictured here.

It preview the brand’s very own autonomous drive support technologies.

Moving over to the very little bit of information that the company has provided about the QX50’s interior, it will preview the brand’s very own autonomous drive support technologies. Described as a technology that “will act as a co-pilot for the driver, empowering rather than replacing them, and delegate more onerous driving tasks to the car,” the system has yet to be unveiled, but it should be similar to the one introduced on the Nissan Serena minivan in Japan in mid-2016. It’s called ProPilot, works just as any other semi-autonomous system available on the market by maintaining the car’s lane position and distance behind other cars, while also being able to navigate without issues in stop-and-go traffic.

Drivetrain

Under the hood is where the big deal happens, as the QX50 concept uses Infiniti’s new variable compression turbo engine technology. Dubbed VC-Turbo, it’s the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine and Infiniti claims that it combines the power of a high-performance 2.0-liter turbo gasoline mill with the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel powertrain.

Using an innovative multi-link system, the VC-Turbo engine is reportedly able to adapt its compression ratio according to driving conditions in order to deliver optimal levels of performance and efficiency. By raising or lowering the reach of the pistons, it instantly finds the most suitable compression for driving conditions, offering any compression ratio between 8:1 for higher performance and 14:1 for higher efficiency.

 

 

 

 

Dubbed VC-Turbo, it’s the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine.

Infiniti also brags that the VC-Turbo technology marks a significant “leap forward for the internal combustion engine, joining other renowned powertrain innovations such as liquid cooling, fuel injection, catalytic convertors, and turbocharging.” These are mighty big claims and it remains to be seen whether it’s just PR talk or something we will indeed conclude in the future.

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As far as performance goes, the target output for this engine is about 268 horsepower and 288 pound-feet of torque. At first glance, the torque figure doesn’t seem that spectacular compared to a diesel, but rather in line with what we can get from turbocharged drivetrains. However, Infiniti says that the VC-Turbo engine will be comparable to “certain six-cylinder gasoline powertrains for performance, while significantly outperforming them in efficiency.” The company also said that it is targeting a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over V6 gasoline engines of similar power output. To put this into perspective, the outgoing QX50 uses a 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 325 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque that returns 24 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. This means that the upcoming model and its VC-Turbo feature should be good for at least 31 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in the city.

Conclusion

Although it’s not the kind of concept car that blows you away in terms of design and technology, it’s a vehicle that draws a lot of attention at an auto show. It’s design is gorgeous to look at, it comes with a state-of-the-art semi-autonomous system, and drivetrain technology that’s supposed to revolutionize the auto industry. And it’s because of these reasons I’m actually glad the QX50 is not a wild, futuristic concept. This is mostly likely the exact car we’ll get in dealerships by the end of 2017 and that’s a very good reason to get excited about. It’s also worth noting that the QX50 will inspire the company’s larger SUVs, the QX70 and QX80, both in need of a makeover.

Press Release

The INFINITI QX50 Concept, which will make its global premiere at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, showcases the brand’s vision for a next-generation mid-size premium SUV.

An evolution of the 2016 QX Sport Inspiration, the QX50 Concept shows how the design of its conceptual forebear could be adapted for a future production model in the world’s fastest-growing vehicle segment. INFINITI’s latest concept confidently articulates the artistic influence of the designer through the brand’s “Powerful Elegance” design language. A “cabin-forward” silhouette combines with taut, muscular lines and flowing surfaces telegraph it as a dynamic and practical SUV.

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The organic forms of the “driver-centric, passenger-minded” cabin harmonize with the exterior. Blending progressive design with elevated levels of modern craftsmanship, the QX50 Concept’s interior reflects INFINITI’s desire to challenge conventional approaches to premium interior design.

“With the unveiling of the QX Sport Inspiration at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, we showed the future of INFINITI QX models. The new QX50 Concept evolves this concept further and shows how INFINITI could develop its future presence in the fastest-growing vehicle segment globally.”
Roland Krueger, President of INFINITI

INFINITI to reveal plans for autonomous driving technologies

INFINITI’s QX50 Concept also previews the brand’s roll out of its autonomous drive support technologies. Central to the strategy for the development of all future autonomous drive support systems is that they should ensure the driver retains ultimate control over their vehicle – in keeping with INFINITI’s focus on driver engagement – while providing a proactive approach to safety.

INFINITI’s autonomous drive technologies will act as a “co-pilot” for the driver, empowering rather than replacing them, and “delegate” more onerous driving tasks to the car – such as navigating stop-start traffic on the highway or keeping track of the positions of surrounding vehicles.

Since its inception in 1989, INFINITI has brought a number of pioneering driver-assistive technologies to the customer. The company has been responsible for a series of world-first semi-autonomous technologies, including Predictive Forward Collision Warning, drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering and Active Lane Control.

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The QX50 Concept’s autonomous drive support systems preview the first production-ready incarnation of a technology package that will be developed further in future production models.

INFINITI will exhibit its ground breaking new VC-Turbo (Variable Compression Turbo) engine technology in Detroit. The VC-Turbo engine is the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. VC-Turbo technology combines the power of a high-performance 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine with the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel powertrain. Such an advanced powertrain would be perfectly suited to the packaging of the QX50 Concept.

The production-ready 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine represents a compelling alternative to diesel powertrains. Using an innovative multi-link system, the VC-Turbo engine is able to adapt its compression ratio according to driving conditions to deliver optimal levels of performance and efficiency. By seamlessly raising or lowering the reach of the pistons, it instantly selects the most suitable compression for current driving conditions. The engine is able to offer any compression ratio between 8:1 (for high performance) and 14:1 (for high efficiency).

With a development target power output of approximately 200 kW (268 hp / 272 ps) and 390 Nm torque, the VC-Turbo engine will be comparable to certain six-cylinder gasoline powertrains for performance, while significantly outperforming them in efficiency. INFINITI engineers are targeting a 27 percent improvement in fuel efficiency over V6 gasoline engines of similar power output.

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INFINITI’s VC-Turbo technology marks a significant leap forward for the internal combustion engine, joining other renowned powertrain innovations such as liquid cooling, fuel injection, catalytic convertors, and turbocharging. The arrival of the VC-Turbo will establish new benchmarks – for power, efficiency and emissions – against which future powertrains will be measured.