Infiniti QX Inspiration: The Potential of Empty Spaces & The Art of Origami

  • The QX Inspiration is Infiniti’s foray into the EV market.
  • It has a pair of electric motors and an electric all-wheel drive system.
  • The coach doors, cab-forward design, and other styling elements are inspired by Japanese culture.

It’s hard to describe the Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept. After all, we’re talking about a concept car here. From the looks of it, the QX is a small and compact SUV on steroids. However, it does give the Lamborghini Urus and Maserati Levante a serious run for cash in terms of design. Despite this, I will reserve my final judgment until the production model is seen in the flesh. As we all know, concept cars are merely a stretch of the imagination.

You can even call them pipe dreams if you want.

But the biggest problem with concept cars is they are merely concepts, and the end result is usually a watered-down version of the original design. The Subaru WRX Concept in 2013, or the Pontiac Sunfire Concept in back 1990 suddenly come to mind.

And since the Infiniti QX Inspiration is a preview of what’s to come as the brand’s first fully-electric vehicle, I’m betting the production version will look pretty similar to the concept. It has to be. How else will it steal the thunder from the Audi e-tron and Jaguar I-PACE? Of course, it also has the Mercedes EQ C and Tesla Model S in its sights, so it better be more than just a looker.

Electrified Powertrain: An Inflection Point

Infiniti has yet to divulge any real crucial performance info about the QX Inspiration. Things like battery capacity, range, and torque ratings are forthcoming but it seems as if Infiniti wants us to think beyond horsepower ratings and top speed. For example, during the 2019 North American International Auto Show, the QX Inspiration won Best Future Concept in The Detroit News Readers’ Choice Awards.

We do know, however, there are two electric motors (one on each axle) and an e-AWD system. The latter is Infiniti-speak for electric all-wheel drive, similar to the electric Quattro drivetrain in the Audi e-tron SUV. The QX Inspiration is based on an entirely new platform, allowing the battery pack to live below the vehicle floor. Infiniti says this will help lower the center of gravity for more precise handling.

“The decision to electrify the Infiniti range was an inflection point for our brand,” explained Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President for Global Design, Nissan Motor Company. “We started to understand the potential of new architectures and technologies and how they could influence a change in how we design our cars.”

Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept. Photo: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Related: The best states for EV ownership.

Turning Japanese: Artistry & Imagination

Infiniti wants us mostly to focus on the origami-inspired styling and minimalist exterior design. With finely-balanced organic shapes and a mixture of straight lines, sharp creases, and smooth surfaces, the Japanese DNA is very much evident in the Infiniti QX Inspiration. The front has thin headlamps and an illuminated Infiniti logo. On the other hand, there is no grille or air intake on the front.

But the designers wisely retained the silhouette of an actual grille to give the QX Inspiration a very distinct look. This meant adopting an approach which focused on the open space between the concept’s lines. In particular, Infiniti’s designers were drawn to the character of paper and the art of origami.

“With the QX Inspiration concept, we were inspired by the Japanese concept of Ma, a focus on the lines and the empty space in between,” said Karim Habib, Infiniti Executive Design Director. “What is happening in that space between the lines – the free, natural flow of surfaces – is truly expressive. It’s the empty space between the edges that often carries the loudest message.”

Signature Styling Elements

The sharply-angled D-pillar contains a vermilion signature line to further define the cab-forward profile. Where other Infiniti SUVs have a long hood and a cab-rearward profile, the QX Inspiration is doing the opposite. To prove this point, the concept has shorter front and rear overhangs along with a shorter hood since there’s no need to house a burly gasoline motor.

“Where a V8 engine might move the interior rearward, electrification has allowed us to the move the interior forward and provides for a balanced profile,” Albaisa said.

The Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept rides on a 112.2-inch wheelbase and is about 64 inches in height. Overall length is 183.2 inches. It has the same exterior dimensions as the Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3. In fact, the proportions are pretty similar to the Infiniti QX50 as well.

In the rear, the QX Inspiration literally shines. There’s a thin light bar that stretches across the tailgate. In addition, there’s an illuminated Infiniti script below the light bar to further add class and refinement. Everything looks crisp and neatly organized, with none of the cartoonist flare common to Japanese concept cars. Lastly, the QX Inspiration sits on louver-inspired 22-inch alloy wheels to complete the look.

The design team was inspired by the Japanese spatial concept of Ma – or the mastery of empty space. Photo: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Hospitable Interior: When Empty Spaces Talk

The Japanese are known for their bountiful hospitality, and the same can be said for the omotenashi-inspired interior of the Infiniti QX Inspiration. Thus, the hand-crafted interior is peppered with unique touches, including a Bianco Carrara marble center console, pillar-to-pillar widescreen display, soft ambient lighting, and sofa-like rear seats. The roof panel is even finished in full-grain Japanese red cedar wood.

In fact, there’s so much going on with the interior that it’s hard to keep count.

“We have taken advantage of the EV architecture to develop a lounge-like interior, enabled by the flat floor and the empty space below the dashboard and center console. So really, we’re not just designing the objects inside the car, we’re designing the empty space between objects,” Habib said. “We’re trying to use that space to accentuate the design – you let the empty space talk as much, if not even more, than the forms and objects that are there.”

“Imagine someone clapping. The empty sound between claps is full of anticipation,” Albaisa added. “In this way, the electrification of Infiniti will bring a new simplicity and excitement to the brand.”

What really stands out are the rear coach doors with complimentary, carpet-style entrance lighting. If both features end up in production, it will surely make the Infiniti QX Inspiration stand out from the Tesla Model X and Audi e-tron SUV. Photo: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

Putting It All Together

Infiniti is keen on joining the electric SUV bandwagon with the QX Inspiration Concept. From the looks of it alone, they have a winner here.

“QX Inspiration is the beginning of a new era for Infiniti, and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand,” Habib said. “New technology has given us the opportunity to evolve our design philosophy – and this new vehicle communicates the serene strength at our core.”

Alvin Reyes is the Associate Editor of Automoblog. He studied civil aviation, aeronautics, and accountancy in his younger years and is still very much smitten to his former Lancer GSR and Galant SS. He also likes fried chicken, music, and herbal medicine.

Infiniti QX Inspiration Gallery

Photos & Source: Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.

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