Infiniti unveils its new QX60 Monograph prototype.
Infiniti has been at a crossroads for some time now. Sales of Nissan's luxury division haven’t hit expectations recently, while Nissan, the giant behind the luxury division, is itself busy restructuring the company. As for the electric turn the company has professed a commitment to undertaking, it will indeed take place, Infiniti's strategists having reiterated that commitment just in the last few months ago.
But, first things first. To get where it wants to go, the brand has to build on a solid foundation, namely a lineup heavy on utility vehicles, with a few captivating sport cars sprinkled in for the purists.
Infiniti's newest model found in its current lineup is the QX50, a compact-size SUV that's struggling to make its mark in one of the industry's largest and fiercely contested segments. Above it sits the QX60, the large crossover that, despite its advanced age, continues to attract families looking for a more hushed, velvety experience than offered by the Nissan Pathfinder, the QX60's distant cousin.
The future of Infiniti design
But all good things must come to an end: the QX60 will be getting a new look in a few months, and to that end we just witnessed – logged into, I should say - the unveiling of the QX60 Monograph prototype, and the least we can say is that Infiniti's design will evolve significantly... at least in some ways!
It's pretty clear that this concept just unveiled in Yokohama, Japan, will serve as the design blueprint for the brand's future utility models. With this new version, all that remains of the model in service since 2013 is the name... and the badge! Of course, there's a kinship at the front, and in fact I say hats off to the design department for doing a great job with that very imposing grille and those light clusters installed at the upper ends of the grill. But that's where the comparisons end. Even the openings on either side of the grille are in harmony with the rest of the snout.
Will the next QX60 be sportier?
The flat hood, flowing body panels on the sides and horizontally oriented fenestration change the QX60's formula quite definitively. On the eve of the global launch, during a virtual conference, Nissan's Vice Director of Design Alfonso Albaisa didn't want to confirm the anticipated sportiness of the next-generation QX60, but he did say that the driving experience will be quite different in this future three-row SUV. Here’s hoping that that’s true!
Because frankly the current QX60 is all about occupant comfort, with a soft suspension and a powertrain the sole mission of which is to achieve reasonable average fuel consumption. In short, when it comes to thrills, you have to look elsewhere.
At first glance, the QX60 Monograph prototype exudes a fresh, more-dynamic vibe. Two models come to mind when I admire its silhouette: Range Rover Velar and Lincoln Aviator. Those two crossovers have a cabin set far back from a long hood, which suggests a decidedly racier vehicle. And that's a good thing, because they sit in the same segment as the QX60.
Infiniti representatives also revealed the prototype's 22-inch wheel size. While this detail doesn't add much to the upcoming QX60's technical specifications, the fact that the vehicle is based on 22-inch wheels (!) gives us a clearer idea of the crossover's proportions. It's a safe bet that the production model's rim size will be one size smaller, if only to make life easier for owners who will have to find tires in the future.
Another element that differentiates the QX60 Monograph from the aging outgoing SUV can be found at the back. The steeply sloping rear window combined with the wrap-around body accentuates the impression of muscle and presence. The fact that the taillights are wrapped within this darkened band also contributes to the model’s bold demeanour.
It’s worth a moment to mention the issue of the C-pillar, because Infiniti has stood out over the last decade with this unorthodox curvature towards the rear of the side windows of its vehicles. While the QX50 still sports that design, it looks like the future of Infiniti design is headed down a much cleaner path. The QX60 Monograph has two chrome stripes around the side windows, but they're separated, giving the impression of a floating roof. The effect is likely to appeal to a wider audience, and that's great news for Infiniti, which knows very well that the QX60 is essential to its healthy progress going forward.
Unfortunately, we won’t know more about the intriguing Monograph prototype until 2021; although, we’re told it’s actually very close to the production model that awaits down the road. We can also probably count on seeing spy shots, teasers and spec details pop op on occasion.
Meantime, we’re left with questions: How does Infiniti intend to transform the driving experience of its three-row crossover? Will the twin-turbo V6 engine currently bolted under the hood of the Q50/Q60 tandem be back in this revised family SUV? Will a decision be made on the continuously variable transmission that frankly undermines the acceleration capabilities of the outgoing model? Will the engineers find the right balance between comfort and sportiness?
All of these questions will have to wait until next year, but while we're waiting for the answers, we can sit back and admire the new design direction Infiniti is headed in.