INFINITI 30 Years Forward: Redlining in the Desert

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Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

Welcome to the Jornada del Muerto desert basin of New Mexico, where INFINITI celebrated its 30th anniversary of past and present prominence while hinting at a progressive future inclusive of electric mobility. The “INFINITI 30 Years Forward” vehicle experience and test drive event with the 2020 fleet –including the venerable QX80s and dashing Red Sports — was exciting, historical, and entertaining.

The action took place at Spaceport America, the first purpose-built, commercial spaceport designed to enable frequent, efficient, and safe access to space, that ultimately unlocks the potential of galactic travel for both passengers and cargo. The facility consists of a 12,000-foot spaceway, multiple vertical launch complexes, and a hangar facility. The surrounding area features 3,600 square miles of protected airspace and 18,000 acres of unpopulated real estate.

But let’s start from the beginning for the Japanese creator of SUVs and performance cars. Have you ever wondered where INFINITI inherited its luxury inspiration from? Well, look no further than the 1963 Prince Skyline Sport, which is the bloodline for some of INFINITI’s current designs with its double-arch grille and crescent cut rear windows. Originated by celebrated Italian sports car designer Giovanni Michelotti, the classic car featured a tall windsplit down the middle.

Now fast forward to November 8, 1989, when INFINITI presented the consumer market with the premium Q45 performance sedan. The vehicle also launched the company and created an instant buzz with Bose audio, a spirited 278-horsepower 4.5-liter V8, and an active suspension. Other models to follow were the M30, J30, G Coupe, and the highly popular FX. Thinking down memory lane, one of my favorite rap groups from NY — Mobb Deep and conscious wordsmith NAS — went nuts over INFINITIs and frequently mentioned the Q45 and J30 in their lyrics.

Jumping to the present day at INFINITI’s 30th anniversary, I sat in on informational sessions outlining enhancements to the current family of vehicles to understand INFINITI’s design pillars — simplicity, artistry, and performance –- and to learn intently about the company’s forthcoming arsenal of innovation highlighted by the QX55. INFINITI’s existing lineup is ripe with machines full of beauty and vivacity such as the Q50 sports sedan, Q60 sports coupe, QX60 premium crossover, and the QX80 full-size luxury SUV with its succulent interior composed of two-tone, quilted semi-aniline leather with Alcantara interior seats, contrast piping, and stitching. Looking forward, five new products from INFINITI are coming to the fleet within the next five years including a full-size flagship sedan.

By looking at the release of the first image of the new QX55 SUV, you begin to see an evolving future for the brand. The rendering reveals a fusion of athleticism, elegance, and utility. Think of it as the FX 2.0, which combined sports car design with SUV practicality. That coupe-like silhouette continues to shape the Japanese automaker’s design techniques to this day. Outfitted with standard 20″ wheels, the front fascia resembles QX50 but the rear is totally unique. The D-segment QX55 has eyes on single and pre-family customers and should hit primetime the summer of 2020.

The Project Black S running prototype enhanced with Formula One race technology has great potential. INFINITI says there is a strong consideration for a production run. Boy, I hope so! Additionally, on deck were EDITION 30 specials aligned with the most popular INFINITI models. A quick reference point of styling is the dark treatment of the rims and dark exterior trim. EDITION 30s come in Graphite Shadow, Majestic White, and Black Obsidian hues. Advanced safety technologies include Distance Control Assist, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Around View Monitor.

You can get with this, or you can get with that, I thought to myself. It was tough trying to decipher which of the green energy concepts on display I would role with between the Qs Inspiration and the QX Inspiration. Both, along with Q, allow designers more flexibility with implementing interiors similar to lounges since there is additional space from the reduced size of electrified powertrains. For upcoming INFINITI vehicles, expect an approach focused on two powertrains (fully-electric and gas-generated EVs) and just one universal platform. “As we look ahead to the future, we will capitalize on a range of exciting opportunities to re-establish the INFINITI brand’s reputation for innovation and challenging convention in the premium car segment,” commented Mike Colleran, Vice Chairman, INFINITI Motor Company.

For the dynamic driving courses, I started with the big boy QX80, INFINITI’s flagship SUV. It now features a reconfigured center console with an ergonomically placed IT Commander, HD twin-screen INFINITI InTouch multimedia system, an upgraded 17-speaker Bose Performance Series Audio system with metal speaker grilles, and revised ProPILOT Assist and Sensory package content. In this case, we took it off-road to my surprise since this vehicle isn’t touted for its 4×4 aptitude like the Range Rover HSE. However, there I was showing off the QX80’s Hill Climb, Side Slope, Banked Slalom, Articulation Mounds, and Hill Descent capabilities with ease from machine-finished 22” forged aluminum wheels. Also, the QX80 can tow 8,500 lbs!

Perhaps, the most thrilling activity was the Red Sport test track utilizing the 4-door Q50 Red Sport 400 and the 2-door Q60 Red Sport 400. With traction control off and firm steering, I was able to drift around the dirt course with aggression. Of course, the AWD models were more stable and controllable around the tight turns, but the RWDs were pure entertainment due to added rear-wheel slippage. Our Q50 Red Sport was powered by the peppy 400-horsepower VR-series 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, yet you can also choose the 3.0t with 300-horsepower. Both are blessed with INFINITI InTouch with enriched icons, Navigation with 3D maps, Destinations by Google, and street view imagery. As well, expect Wi-Fi connectivity for seven smart devices. The Q50 RED SPORT 400 AWD is an ideal, midsize, luxury sports sedans for customers looking for an enthusiastic driving package that elevates your status while tapping into the senses. The vehicle is both beautiful and moves like sprinters from Kingston, Jamaica when you pull from the twin-turbo energy. In turn, the RED SPORT is docile and obedient when typical, daily driving is needed, such as work commutes or kid activities.

The QX60 is the backbone of the automaker’s portfolio and receives Rear Door Alert, which notifies drivers if something or someone is left behind in the second row. Powered by a vigorous 3.5-liter V6 engine with 295-horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, owners of the 7-passenger premium crossover can choose FWD or INFINITI Intelligent All-Wheel Drive. This SUV rides with confidence and packs amazing technology for both safety and convenience, such as Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Lane Departure Prevention, Backup Collision Intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control (Full-Speed Range), Distance Control Assist, and Active Trace Control to name a few. Though, a new QX60 is on the way with two-toned roofs and a dramatic style refresh.

The smaller QX50 was reserved to demonstrate its agility through a mini circuit while driving backwards without hitting any cones. I was impressed with the crossover’s turn ratio and sharp steering. The QX50 is heralded for power and fuel economy from the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo variable compression engine that delivers immediate acceleration with 268-horsepower and 288  lb-ft of torque at just 1,600 rpm while still attracting 27 combined mpg. Bravo INFINITI! I just wished the current QX50 was a bit bolder in styling.

As you can see, there is much to be excited about if you are an INFINITI aficionado or possible hand-raiser looking at a competitive automotive label to fit your disposition. From family toting SUVs to confident track runners, the Japanese luxury brand has its hands in every pot.

INFINITI 30th Anniversary Photo Gallery

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