So far, the 2015 model year has been about small utility vehicles. And when I say small, I mean compact and subcompact. In the last nine months alone, I’ve driven a half-dozen new or all-new vehicles from these categories, and there are more to come.
Infiniti and Nissan are on fire, realizing boosts in sales month over month, year over year. And the timing for the introduction of two new luxury utility vehicles could seriously not be better!
Infiniti QX30 Concept
Now, this here’s a smart little concept to behold! And it could not be making an entrance at a more suitable time. Actually, this rockin’ little ‘ute was first unveiled at this year’s Geneva Auto Show last month.
The QX30, expected in showrooms sometime in 2016, will share most of its parts with the Q30, which makes sense given that they are the same vehicle. The QX part of the equation throws in the all-important utility aspect, and a few extra millimetres of ground clearance.
Entering a segment where the Lincoln MKC, BMW X1, Lexus NX, Audi Q3, and Mercedes GLA-Class dwell is a tall order. But Infiniti’s not scared. It’s got it all figured out actually 'cause if the final production car looks anywhere near as dashing and present as the concept, the QX30 will do very well.
To help things along, the QX30 will be powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, the first 4-pot in an Infiniti since the G20 of the early '90s, I believe. Output should exceed 225 horsepower and be more than enough to get the wee luxury CUV going.
The Infiniti QX30 shares a number of its components with said rival from Mercedes, but you’d never know by looking at them.
The “old” Infiniti EX35 was one of the first of its kind, introduced back in 2008. As a compact luxo CUV, the EX35 provided high-end accoutrements, power, some prestige and lots of performance. Sadly, it failed to get the recognition it perhaps deserved. This time around, Infiniti will NOT be timid about this fairly impressive product.
Replacing the EX35, the QX50 addresses one of the EX’s major shortcomings: it was too small. So, now the QX50 is bigger overall. The new vehicle’s wheelbase is 80mm (3.2") longer and the overall length has increased 113mm (4.5") (4,744mm versus the previous 2,632mm).
The resulting growth is most noticeable on the inside. Interior volume has grown by 235 litres (8.3 cubic feet) to 3,268 litres (115.4 cubic feet). Rear seat passengers benefit the most from the newfound girth.
Where power is concerned, ye olde 3.7L V6 found in nearly all Infiniti products makes a return, and for good reason. Its front mid-ship 325 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque are sufficient positive arguments. It in fact makes the QX50 one of the most powerful compact luxury CUVs in its segment.
To the engine is bolted Infiniti’s brilliant 7-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and Downshift Rev Matching. Of the real slushboxes currently on the market, this is one of the most eager to please and feels wonderfully mechanical when working.
All 2016 Infiniti QX50 models will include Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive system complete with active torque distribution. On the Q50, its rear-wheel drive bias makes for a spirited performer, so we can expect the same from the QX50.
Handling should be on par with what Infiniti’s been feeding us over the last few years. The fully independent suspension will likely provide precise handling with a sporty feel without compromising comfort, a key element in the segment.
Aesthetically speaking, the 2016 QX50 is a subtle evolution from what we knew as the EX35. It does not carry the current Infiniti design language; however, we can expect a fully revamped version (à la QX30) to come in the next few years. Honestly, it will look slightly dated alongside the latter, as well as the current Q50.
The 2016 Infiniti QX50 will be available as a single model with one of three trims: Premium, Navigation or Technology.