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Detroit show: QX50 Concept unveiled by Infiniti

Infinite pressure: With a QX50 mid-size SUV in its arsenal, Infiniti Australia could see more sales growth in the booming crossover market.

Production Infinti QX50 premium SUV previewed in concept form at Detroit motor show

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Infiniti logo10 Jan 2017

INFINITI’S upcoming QX50 mid-size luxury SUV has been revealed in pre-production guise during this week’s Detroit motor show, with an Australian debut to boost sales wishful from the premium brand’s local arm.

Although the QX50 nameplate has never been brought to the local market, Infiniti Cars Australia general manager of corporate communications Peter Fadeyev said the brand would “certainly like a car in that segment”.

“It’s a very popular part of Australia’s new-car market and we’d certainly love to have a competitor for Infiniti in that sector,” he told GoAuto.

The medium SUV over $60,000 segment enjoyed a substantial 45.2 per cent growth last year, with sales winners including the segment-leading Mercedes-Benz GLC with 4454 sales, BMW’s X3 clocking 3824 sales and Audi’s Q5 finishing the year with 3599 new registrations.

Last year saw Infiniti Australia find 807 new homes for its vehicles, its best year yet and an increase of 40.6 per cent over the 574 units sold in 2015, but still well off the pace of its German rivals and Lexus Japanese compatriot, which tallied 9027 sales.

The Detroit showcar, based on the QX Sports Inspiration revealed at last year’s Beijing motor show, reveals more production-ready body panels, ditching the front-wheel-arch vents and impractically slim side-view mirrors.

However, the QX50 Concept’s front fascia is near identical to its 2015 progenitor, wearing a prominent double-arch Infiniti grille, sleek headlights, sculpted front bumper and contrasting scuff plate.

From the profile, the luxury SUV is dominated by a prominent crease line that extends from the bonnet all the way through both front and rear doors, along the shoulder and leads into the wraparound tail-lights.

The new showcar also gains rear bumper-indented reflectors, a new-look rear diffuser and a more vertical hatch opening, as well as retaining its unique crescent-shaped D-pillars.

Infiniti says the QX50 Concept “seeks to explore a more emotional execution of crossover design, bringing a degree of elegance and artistry to a segment typified by an uninspiring, clinical aesthetic”.

If Infiniti’s previous concept cars are an indication, including the Q30, QX30 and Q60, the ready-to-buy version of the QX50 is expected to closely resemble its concept.

The interior has also seen a tweak for Detroit, with a closer-to-production central dual screen layout for climate, entertainment and information controls, and a large colour instrument screen tucked behind the steering wheel.

Infiniti has adorned the cabin with three different leathers – genuine, semi-aniline and synthetic nubuck – intended to draw occupants’ eyes naturally around each surface.

Quilted leather also upholsters the door trims and the dashboard is finished in open-pore ash wood for that extra-lux feeling.

Nissan’s luxury arm has also confirmed the QX50 will carry the first production version of its ground-breaking 2.0-litre four-cylinder variable compression ratio petrol engine, dubbed VC-Turbo.

While details have yet to be confirmed, Infiniti is aiming for a production output of 200kW of power and 390Nm of torque, placing it in line with its competitor’s higher-displacement engines.

In addition to engine technology developments, Infiniti is also promising to lay the groundwork for its autonomous driving future, revealing that “the Infiniti QX50 Concept’s driver assist system is part of the company’s development of autonomous driving support technologies”.

While the luxury brand has not revealed further details on the technologies, it is likely safety systems including autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist will be offered on the production QX50.

Infiniti president Roland Krueger said the QX50 concept heavily alludes to the brand’s production SUV mid-sizer.

“With the unveiling of the QX Sport Inspiration at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, we showed the future of Infiniti QX models,” he said.

“The new QX50 Concept evolves this concept further and shows how Infiniti could develop its future presence in what is the fastest-growing vehicle segment globally.”

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