Infiniti Inspired as it Teases New Q80 Flagship Concept

Fastback Inspiration concept set for Paris Motor Show debut.

by on Sep.03, 2014

Infiniti aims to replace the gap long left open by the demise of its one-time flagship Q45.

When Infiniti dropped word, three weeks back, that it was preparing an all-new flagship model, the Japanese maker’s news release reminded many folks of the oft-lampooned rocks-and-trees ad campaign it used to launch its original Q45 model a quarter century ago, the August announcement more about mood than substance.

With the Paris Motor Show unveiling fast approaching, Infiniti is offering a bit more of the latter, this time providing a dark and mysterious rendering of the concept vehicle – as well as a name: the Q80 Inspiration.

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“The intent of the low-slung, ingeniously aggressive four-passenger fastback,” says the latest statement, “is to demonstrate to the premium world just how Infiniti aims to play its part.”

The Inspiration is in keeping with other Infiniti show cars from recent years, featuring a long and low-slung silhouette that appears to be more sports car than sport sedan. It picks up on some current Infiniti styling cues, such as the kick-back frame around the rear passenger windows.

If anything, Infiniti seems to be aiming more at high-style competitors, such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS or Audi A7, rather than such top-line models as the S-Class or A8.

How much of the show car will actually carry over into production remains to be seen, but the luxury arm of Nissan has done a good job, in recent years, of carrying over some of the more enticing elements of such design exercises as the Etherea.

What Infiniti hasn’t yet revealed is what the interior will look like. Its bubbly release suggests that, “A flashpoint for the company’s intuitive human-centric style and onboard technological ambition, the Q80 Inspiration long-legged fastback proves that Infiniti intends to drive in and disturb the status quo.

Infiniti has long been looking at ways to deliver a standout flagship to replace the original Q45 – which was one of the first two models produced by the Japanese maker when it debuted in 1989. The original Q45, despite some criticism of its “belt buckle” grille and a quirky marketing campaign, was given high marks for its overall looks, performance and features.  Indeed, the second-generation model claims to have been the first vehicle sold outside of Japan to offer voice-controlled navigation.

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But demand lagged well behind such competitors as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS, the Gen-2 Q45 generating just 1129 sales in 2005, leading Infiniti to stop exporting to the U.S. a year later. A version dubbed the Cima continued to be sold in Japan until 2010.

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The brand shifted focus to its E-Class fighter, the Infiniti M, while gaining more traction in the compact segment with its old G models – both recently adopting Infiniti’s new nomenclature strategy as the Q50 and Q70.

The Q70 gets a major facelift this year – and also sees the addition of a new long-wheelbase version, the Q70L. Also getting a big update is the QX80 sport-utility vehicle.  . But analysts both inside and outside the company have continued to believe that a true flagship sedan model was necessary to build brand presence.

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Though the sources spoke to would not discuss specific details, it appears the Paris concept sedan will likely make it into production in the relatively near future. It will be one part of a pair of new brand bookends, Infiniti set to introduce the crossover Q30 model in 2015.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see Infiniti offer up a final teaser before the Q80 Inspiration makes its formal debut in Paris on Oct. 2.

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