Infiniti QX50 Concept makes debut at Detroit

New mid-sized Infiniti QX50 SUV concept unveiled at Detroit, showcasing the brand's new VC-T petrol engine

Nissan's premium car brand Infiniti is beginning to increase in popularity in Europe, but its biggest market by far is still in the US – and the company has chosen the 2017 Detroit Motor Show to display its new QX50 Concept car.

It’s an evolution of the brand’s last SUV concept, the QX Inspiration, which debuted at the 2016 Beijing Motor Show. Infiniti says the QX50 Concept is designed with the idea of being ‘driver-centric, passenger-minded’ and to challenge conventional approaches, though it is clearly fairly close to being a production model.

Up front there’s a big grille with an oversized Infiniti badge, flanked by sharp LED headlights and daytime running lights. The lower bumper features a skid plate and has LED lights at either side, while the long bonnet bulges upwards - hiding the brand’s new variable-compression turbo engine, which aims to combine performance and efficiency much better than older engine designs.

The 2.0-litre unit was revealed in 2016, and Inifniti claims it has the efficiency of a diesel with the performance and refinement of a petrol. In the QX50, it could be used to drive a front-wheel-biased four-wheel drive system with an automatic gearbox.

The QX50 has sculpted sides, with creases running down both doors, plus rugged-looking plastic cladding around the wheelarches. There’s also a new Forged Bronze paint finish, created for this concept car, while the wide, segmented taillights give the rear a distinctive look.

Inside, the design looks closer to production than concept, with all the controls you’d expect to find in a real road car. There’s ‘dot-quilted’ leather all around, plus a digital display behind the wheel and two screens on the dashboard. It’s a minimalist design, with few buttons on the centre console.

“With the unveiling of the QX Sport Inspiration at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, we showed the future of Infiniti QX models,” said Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti. “The new QX50 Concept evolves this concept further and shows how Infiniti could develop its future presence in the fastest-growing vehicle segment globally.”

The company has also revealed upcoming plans for a set of new semi-autonomous driving technologies, named ProPILOT, to compete with the likes of Volvo’s Pilot Assist and Tesla’s autopilot. It will debut on the QX50 Concept, before going on to feature on the company’s new models.

The company is keen to point out that ProPILOT is not a fully autonomous driver replacement but a co-pilot – allowing the car to navigate less challenging situations on its own while aiding the driver with tracking and monitoring systems. Infiniti says “the driver retains ultimate control over their vehicle”.

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