Infiniti’s bold hybrid to take on the premium-sector Establishment

2014-11-17 16:55:25

This is the Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept, a model which the luxury arm of Nissan describes as “a brave statement of intent” to “disrupt the premium saloon category”. What it means is that this is a preview of a future range-topping production model that Infiniti hopes will take on the likes of the Porsche Panamera and Mercedes-Benz S-class.

The Infiniti Q80 is a big car by any standards. The four-door fastback measures 5,060mm in length, 2,010mm in width and 1,340mm in height, closely matching the dimensions of its rivals. The Q80 Inspiration sits on huge 22-inch wheels and provides a commanding illustration of Infiniti’s new design language.

Underneath that body, which we think is a beautiful work of art, sits a new hybrid powertrain which mates a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine to an electric motor. The all-aluminium V6 produces 444bhp and is the first of a new family of power-plants that will appear in Infiniti models over the next two years as the firm embarks on its bold plans to double its engine range before the end of the decade.

The engine is mated to a 99bhp electric motor which draws its power from a lithium-ion battery pack. The combined power output is 543bhp and gives you access to 553lb ft of torque (pulling power). Infiniti claim that the average fuel consumption is 51.4mpg and it should produce just 129g/km of CO2 emissions.

Power will be channelled via a 9-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels in normal driving. However, depending upon the road conditions, Infiniti also say that the torque can be split between all four wheels. Drivers will also have the ability to keep the car permanently in all-wheel drive mode.

Open the door, and you will quickly notice that the four-seat cabin has adopted a Scandinavian-style minimalistic approach that adopts Alcantara, leather and metal trim as its materials of choice.

A small infotainment screen sits ahead of the centre console with a digital dashboard that displays relevant information to the driver. A network of cameras, lasers and sensors provides the basis for an on-demand autonomous driving environment. This means the system are able to suggest various actions to the driver, including on accelerating, braking or tailing the car in front. The information is relayed to the driver via a heads-up display.

Passengers also get the own HUD which is able to display information from a connected smartphone. Passengers travelling in the rear will also be able to benefit from individual touch-screen infotainment systems.

Infiniti says that the Q80 Inspiration has already been confirmed for production and will mark the Japanese-company’s first foray into the high-end premium saloon market to do battle with the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-class and BMW 7-series in “three to five years”.

Infiniti’s product strategy boss, Francois Bancon, told first4auto: “This is the highest portfolio entry for Infiniti and our vision is to compete with a unique approach. Q80 Inspiration is how we see the future in terms of moving people in the higher end of our portfolio.”

This is an abridged article especially prepared by First4Auto on behalf of EcoCars4Sale and ElectricCar2buy.

Reported By

Andrew Merritt-Morling

Chief Editor