Infiniti has a problem and it’s that people don’t care about Infinitis – a new design direction for the brand begins now with this Infiniti QX60 Monograph concept, and it’s supposed to change everything
Japan’s economic miracle of the ‘80s gave us the golden era of JDM goodness. Even though a recession hit Japan in 1992, all that sweet ‘80s money had already been divvied up, most of it spent on lavish sports car fantasies. All-wheel drive and all-wheel steering, aluminium construction, turbocharging, Japan was game for anything. We ended up getting cars such as the MkIV Supra, NSX, FD generation RX-7, and the GT-R line of giant killers. There was loads of money still left over, and the good life got a bunch of Japanese manufacturers all cocky, thinking they could go after Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Which is exactly what happened when Toyota launched the billion-dollar car, the 1989 Lexus LS400. This was it, a true S-Class from the East – Japan was finally a superpower. The Empire made it across the Pacific.
Honda came up with its own luxury spin-off, Acura, and Mazda was supposed to do the same with a proposed V12-engined saloon called Amati. Nissan made a brash entrance, developing a 4.5-litre V8 and active suspension for a new brand, Infiniti. The fickle luxury car buyers, the old money, stuck largely to the traditional options from Germany, but one Japanese luxury brand gained momentum.
Thirty years later Lexus still stands tall, Acura is only relevant in the US, and Infiniti stumbles along. They’re trying though – Acura has the TLX saloon and RDX SUV freshly updated, but the 573-horsepower US-designed Acura NSX hasn’t been as pivotal for the brand as the LFA was for Lexus, for example. Infiniti missed the opportunity to adopt the GT-R for its own more prestigious purposes, and so, thinking they could just get by with fully-specced Nissans, an Infiniti halo car never really existed at all.
Some recent development has been promising, but Infiniti needs more than just pretty concepts to get out of the sales rut. The Prototype 9 and Prototype 10 were show fantasies, but stuff like the QX and QX Inspiration concepts seemed to aim pretty high indeed. Now Nissan’s luxury arm has just revealed the Infiniti QX60 Monograph, another concept previewing the next-generation of upcoming cars from the Japanese company. At the same time Infiniti took the opportunity to present its new world headquarters, moved back to Yokohama after eight years of messing about in Hong Kong with an eye on the lucrative Chinese market.
With its “inspired Japanese design” the QX60 Monograph is supposed to show much of the upcoming production version of a model that has so far sold more than 400,000 units for Infiniti. The three-row SUV will go up against the Lexus RX, Volvo XC90, Cadillac XT6, and the usual suspects. Nothing has been revealed so far about the performance or technology available on board.
Nissan’s senior VP of design Alfonso Albaisa says this is where the Infiniti brand is heading with its design language, with a wide look, tapered greenhouse, and those swollen wheelarches. The inspiration came from the Japanese minimalism concept of ‘Ma’ which is something simple but also intricately detailed. The motif of the signature grille, they say, comes from the folds of origami, and the contrasting black roof has a ‘kimono fold’ pattern if you look close, inspired by traditional silk robes. So, you know, let’s see if that works. It’ll be a miracle but it’s happened before.