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Is this Infiniti SUV a Tesla killer?

By Tony O’Kane, 16 Jan 2019 Car News

Is this Infiniti SUV a Tesla killer?

The Infiniti QX Inspiration is described as a “direct blueprint” for the company’s first electric vehicle, and it's looking to claim some big scalps

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the venue for the debut of Infiniti’s latest ambitious concept, and if the company’s press-release bravado is to be believed, it heralds a wave of cars that could catapault the company from also-ran status to a position of luxury car – and EV - leadership.

Due to enter showrooms in 2021, Infiniti’s all-electric SUV will compete with a range of premium rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz EQCJaguar I-Pace and the as-yet unrevealed Tesla Model Y

Completely electric and built on an all-new EV-specific platform, the QX Inspiration isn’t just our first good look at Infiniti’s future styling language for its electric vehicles: in Infiniti’s own words, it’ll form “a direct precedent” for the company’s first production electric car.

 

That means that those hankering for a production version of the sleek Q Inspiraton sedan concept unveiled last year will have to wait a little longer, because a midsize SUV based on the QX Inspiration you see here will beat it to market.

READ MORE The EVs with the longest ranges

Even though specific performance numbers weren’t announced at Detroit - where, somewhat embarrassingly, the show car broke down before it could be driven on stage - Infiniti describes the QX Inspiration, and by extension the production car it will spawn, as “a high-performance SUV offering range confidence”.

Accordingly, we can expect a sizable battery capacity, along with a dual-motor configuration, all-wheel drive and brisk straight-line performance for Infiniti’s first EV. In fact, the company puts particular emphasis on performance credentials, saying the dual-motor AWD will deliver “blistering” acceleration and boast handling enhanced by its low centre of gravity.

That will put Infiniti’s EVs in direct competition with their Tesla-branded counterparts, given the American brand’s preoccupation with performance. We won’t know whether Infiniti’s electric SUV will have the right numbers to challenge the Tesla Model Y until both cars enter the market, however the language from Infiniti suggests that Nissan’s luxury offshoot is certainly aiming high.

READ MORE Infiniti will let drivers decide about autonomy

It’s definitely treading adventurously on the design front too, with the QX Inspiration’s edgy exterior styling pasting the sporty turret profile of a Nissan GT-R over a blunt-nosed, big-wheeled and origami-inspired SUV lower half.

Suicide doors, a show-car staple, open up to an opulent cabin furnished with Japanese-style timber louvres in the sunroof, geometric suede ‘tiles’ in lieu of conventional carpet, an electronic display stretching from A-pillar to A-pillar, and a marble-topped centre console that extends over the sofa-like second row seating. Do NOT expect any of the concept’s interior features to survive the productionising process.

The QX Inspiration-based SUV won’t be the only Infiniti EV. Far from it. The company has pledged to begin offering fully electric as well as partially electrified powertrains from 2021 onward, with more than half of its global sales expected to be for electrically-enhanced vehicles by 2025.

Range-extender hybrids and pure electric vehicles will make up that mix – but curiously plug-in hybrids don’t appear to be part of its strategy for now.