Infiniti has unveiled a sensational looking new concept car at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Built to showcase the company's design language going forward, the Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept integrates next-generation technologies into its futuristic lines.
For Infiniti, the most important of those next-gen techs is its VC-Turbo powertrain. The Variable Compression-Turbocharged engine is the automaker's latest combustion engine and it's a doozy. Unveiled a couple of years ago, the VC-T is capable of ranging cylinder compression from 8:1 to 14:1 – this allows for both muscular turbocharging to give larger-than-displacement power, and for high efficiency to give better-than-size fuel economy.
The four-cylinder engine demonstrating the VC-T displaces only two liters, yet outputs horsepower and torque equivalent to a six-cylinder unit nearly twice the 2.0's size. It achieves almost 30 percent better fuel economy than that same V6 – all in an engine that weighs only about 20 pounds (9 kg) more than an equivalent four-cylinder. It's set to appear in the 2019 Infiniti QX50.
The Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept is the first vehicle from the carmaker that is designed specifically to show what the VC-T can do to change vehicular design. From the outside, it doesn't look like much is different. Smooth lines and sportscar-like architecture are the general look behind the Q Inspiration. It's a smooth mixture of luxury German makes like Audi, futuristic Silicon Valley designs from Tesla, and the wide-mouthed grille of a Japanese performance line.
A few hints at other technologies within the concept's internals are seen from outside the car. These include razor-thin LED headlamps which almost distract from the lack of side mirrors, which Infiniti has replaced with thin protrusions that house cameras.
Where the changes with the new variable compression engine design are most relevant and visible are in the concept's cabin. Looking past the uber-futuristic seating and the squared-off steering wheel, we can see that the smaller engine allows the driver and front passengers' positions to be pushed forward and the dashboard to be truncated to accommodate that, without losing legroom in the car. Thrusting the front passengers forward allows for a larger rear seating space.
That larger cabin in a smaller frame means that pillarless design is very doable in the Infiniti Q Inspiration. That's further accentuated by the opposing swing of the doors, laying the cabin open for clear view and easy access. That, in turn, gives the small-car-sized vehicle an interior more equivalent to a midsize sedan ... even if it does only seat four, and no parent on this planet would put their kids in the back with that huge and expensive-looking rear screen mounted within kicking distance.
Infiniti has also promised that the Q Inspiration Concept includes its most forward-looking automated driving technologies. The concept boasts the company's latest ProPILOT functionality, already in the Nissan Rogue and more recently shown at CES 2018 in the 2019 Nissan LEAF. ProPILOT is the next-level adaptive cruise control, acting as more of a co-pilot than mere cruise-holding monitor.
The Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept is on display at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. Infiniti says that the concept will not become a production vehicle.
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