Although it is promoting its latest concept as a styling exercise, there is evidence to suggest the Q Inspiration the company is unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit will become the new Q flagship.
The flagship position of the Infiniti lineup since its birth was the Q45. So widely regarded was the full-sized luxury performance sedan that it was identified strictly as the Q by fans, critics and rivals. But after several generations of increasingly better sedans, rivals caught up and passed it.
And after stopping production of suddenly ho-hum Q45 in 2006, Infiniti decided to designate its entire lineup Q in 2012, creating a Q50 at the bottom of the line (from what used to be the G-series) and essentially relegating the Q45 to history.
At the time of the line renaming, there were rumours of a new flagship model that according to name progression would be named Q80 (the M-series had taken over the Q70 designation). There is indication that the Q Inspiration may become the long-awaited Q80, five years in the making and following various false starts with other concepts.
Among them, the last design “Inspiration,” the Q80 Inspiration introduced at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. That concept was a hybrid using the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V-6 and an electric motor of undisclosed power. The net outputs were 550 hp and 553 lb-ft, which certainly puts the performance in flagship territory.
It was filled with leather, wood and aluminum to convey the image of premium luxury, again quite pointedly flagship material. And it had the Q80 right in the name, so it was obvious where Infiniti was heading.
The latest concept is an obvious evolution of the Q80 Inspiration, though it’s hard to tell from the released image whether it’s any closer to production. Infiniti will simply state at this stage that it represents the next step in Infiniti design, representing the company’s new form language.
The silhouette shows the importance of people space, with the cabin elongated at the expense of engine and cargo space, though the latter looks to be addressed through the adoption of a hatchback design. The fastback profile also makes a “coupe” bodystyle, which seems to be the upscale profile of choice for flagship sedans.
“We aim to take traditional sedan architecture to its next stage of evolution,” said Karim Habib, Infiniti’s Executive Design Director. “The Q Inspiration offers an alternative form; something more flowing in appearance and muscular in stance, with an unusually long and balanced cabin.
“Experimenting with new proportions in an established segment with the arrival of smarter, compact powertrains, the Q Inspiration features a shorter hood and elongated body, with all the benefits to interior wellbeing, comfort and space that this layout entails,” concluded Habib.
More information, and hopefully a timeline for production, will be made available when the car is introduced at the show January 15.