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Infiniti Q80 Inspiration Offers “A Glimpse into the Future”

Maker hints of "production intent" with sleek, fastback four-door.

by on Oct.02, 2014

A production version of the Q80 Inspiration would mark a return to the Premium Luxury segment for Infiniti.

Infiniti has had a history of delivering edgy design statements, starting with the brand’s original Q45 flagship. And it’s attempting to push the proverbial envelope yet again with the unveiling of its new Q80 Inspiration at the Paris Motor Show this week.

With a look that seems lifted from a sci-fi flick, the four-door fastback, with its 1+1+1+1 seating layout takes aim at a niche that Infiniti has long hoped to re-enter, the premium luxury segment, and though the Q80 Inspiration is being described as a “concept,” for now, it is meant to offer “a glimpse into the future of Infiniti,” suggested global operations chief Francois Goupil de Bouille.

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“We will have a car of this type in our portfolio,” he declared during an auto show preview. The only questions are: how soon, and how close the new flagship will come to the Inspiration show car.


Infiniti Lifts the Covers on Q80 Inspiration Flagship

A “no-compromise ambassador” for Japanese luxury brand.

by on Sep.23, 2014

A production version of the Q80 Inspiration would mark a return to the Premium Luxury segment for Infiniti.

Three weeks after giving us a first tempting tease of the flagship model it will reveal in Paris next month, Infiniti is lifting the covers to provide a full look at the new Q80 Inspiration concept vehicle.

The maker is billing the Q80 show car as a “vision of category-breaking, supreme luxurious driving.” It is not your typical premium sedan with a big V-8 or -12, but a high-tech, four-seat fastback that features a hybrid-powered and new, autonomous driving technology.

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“In Q80 Inspiration, we wanted to capture that unforgettable feeling when you experience something important, something beautiful, something magnetic for the first time,” explained Infiniti Executive Design Director, Alfonso Albaisa.


Acura Going All-In with New TLX

New sport sedan sees largest launch ever for struggling luxury brand.

by on Jul.14, 2014

The new 2015 Acura TLX targets the performance sport sedan market once a stronghold for the old Legend model.

Acura is playing its new TLX sports sedan like a winning poker hand, going all-in on the mid-range model it is launching for 2014.

It may not have any other choice. Despite the strong reception given the Honda subsidiary’s redesigned MDX sport-utility vehicle this year, Acura has continued to struggle with the rest of its line-up, its sedans, in particular, posting double-digit sales declines. But it’s confident that it finally has the right cards in place to ante up with the biggest launch campaign in its 30-year history.

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“We’re very excited about what the TLX will bring us,” said Mike Accavitti, the executive recently appointed to head Acura, which is gaining more independence from its parent brand in a bid to reverse years of weak sales.  Replacing the old TL model, Accavitti promised that the new TLX “is positioned in the sweet spot of the sedan market. It has the right stuff to put us back in the performance sedan game.”

Acura better hope so.


New Acura TLX to Debut at NY Auto Show

Deja vu all over again?

by on Mar.20, 2014

The "prototype" 2015 Acura TLX during its debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Look for minor changes in the production model.

Don’t be surprised if you get a sense of déjà vu all over again – as Yogi Berra liked to say – when you get to the New York Auto Show next month.

Yes, you’ve seen that Acura TLX before.  Well, almost but not quite.  Honda’s upscale marque gave us a look at a “prototype” during the Detroit Auto Show a couple months back.  That’s a common practice for Honda which has been very effective at double-dipping into the 24-hour news cycle.

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Expect to see a few minor tweaks as we go from prototype to production – such as the row of LED lights fused to the base of each sideview mirror — but the basic shape is going to be largely the same as what was revealed in the Motor City.  “The TLX will serve as the backbone of the Acura sedan line-up,” said Mike Accavitti, Acura’s new brand boss, so the maker is intent on getting it right with what will soon become the middle model in its three sedan line-up.


First Drive: 2014 Infiniti Q50

Steering a new course.

by on Aug.05, 2013

The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is more than just an update of the old G - Series sedan.

There’s something a bit disconcerting lifting one’s hands off the steering wheel at freeway speeds, especially when your new Infiniti QX50 confidently maneuvers a high-speed curve without a moment’s hesitation – or drift.

With the launch of the new Q50, Infiniti is steering a new course – quite literally.  The new sedan, the replacement for the maker’s popular G series, is the first mass production automobile to use a steer-by-wire system, something Infiniti has dubbed Direct Adaptive Steering. But the sedan is also part of a figurative shift in direction by the Nissan luxury brand, after nearly a quarter century Infiniti now determined to move out of the second-tier ghetto to take on dominant luxury competitors like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

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Part of the strategy to get there involves an all-new alphanumeric naming system.  Forget G, M, FX and JX.  Going forward, all Infiniti passenger cars will begin with a “Q,” while all crossovers and light trucks will be badged “QX.” The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is the first model to adopt that new nomenclature.

Of course, simply planting a new name on an old G35 wouldn’t be enough to make the big jump that Infiniti aims for. But the 2014 QX50 is a lot more than just a modest model refresh.


Infiniti Tries to Steer a New Course

New steer-by-wire system just the first step for Japanese luxury maker.

by on Aug.05, 2013

The design of the new Infiniti Q50 was strongly influenced by the maker's Essence concept vehicle.

With the launch of its new Q50 sedan, Infiniti is quite literally steering a new course as it tries to navigate out of the second-tier of luxury brands and take on better-known high-line marques like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.

The Q50 replaces the old Infiniti G series and initiates an all-new alphanumeric naming strategy. It also introduces the world’s first steer-by-wire technology, among a variety of other high-tech features being added to the new sedan.

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But whether potential buyers take to the new Direct Adaptive Steering system remains to be seen, and analysts warn that Infiniti risks serious confusion as it rebrands existing models to conform to the new nomenclature – something that has caused serious problems for Honda’s Acura and Ford’s Lincoln when they also abandoned more familiar model names.

“We know we’ll face challenges in the short-term but there are tremendous opportunities in the long-term,” said Robb Simmons, Infiniti’s senior marketing manager, during a media preview of the new Q50 line.


Acura Aims to Redefine Itself with RLX Flagship

Luxury maker counting on new design and advanced technology to lure in new buyers.

by on Nov.30, 2012

Acura loses the peak but gains a new LED lighting system with the 2014 RLX flagship.

It was the brand that proved Japanese automakers could compete in the luxury segment but in recent years Acura has been little more than an after-thought, lost behind mainstream high-line marques like Lexus and German giants Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

But Acura is hoping to redefine itself with the launch of its all-new flagship model, the RLX.  Larger and more lavish than the existing Acura line-up, the maker gave a hint of what it had in mind with a concept version at last April’s New York Auto Show. The production version of the Acura RLX is now on display at the LA Auto Show.

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A casual viewer might first notice what executive Jeff Conrad demurely described as a “redesigned Acura grille.” That addresses what may have been the single most controversial aspect of recent Acura design, the massive chromed “beak,” as critics derisively called it.


Former Audi Chief de Nysschen Sets Out to Reshape Infiniti

My goal is "unlock the potential of the brand," says new CEO.

by on Aug.22, 2012

Infiniti's new CEO, Johan de Nysschen will have the chance to completely reshape the brand.

More than two decades after its well-publicized debut, Infiniti remains a brand without a clear identity or well-defined mission.  But all that could soon change.

The Nissan luxury brand has moved its headquarters from Japan to Hong Kong and hired on long-time Audi executive Johan de Nysschen as it new global chief executive.  His challenge at Infiniti is not unlike what he faced at Audi, says the South African-born de Nysschen, taking an also-ran automaker and turning it a serious, top-tier contender.

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“My goal is to unlock the potential of this brand,” de Nysschen told during an interview in Pebble Beach, California prior to the annual Concours d’Elegance.  “One of the things I bring to the table,” he added, “is I’m willing to challenge” the established order.


Acura Pushing For 45% Sales Growth in 2012

Maker betting on new ILX, redesigned RDX for big surge.

by on Mar.23, 2012

The 2013 Acura ILX will be a critical piece of the brand's turnaround strategy.

After years of struggle, Japan’s first luxury car brand is forecasting a 45% surge in demand this year that will help it challenge top-tier rivals.

Acura officials say they’re counting on new and updated models – notably the entry-luxury ILK sedan and redesigned RDX crossover — to provide the moment that will boost sales to 180,000 for the year.  An all-new flagship scheduled to debut at the New York Auto Show next month should also add momentum.


“This is where we think we would have been” were it not for the impact of last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami, said Acura marketing chief Jeff Conrad.


Production-Ready Acura ILX Blows into Windy City

Taking aim at the Millennials.

by on Feb.08, 2012

The production version of the 2013 Acura ILX.

The production version of the new 2013 Acura ILX is blowing into the Windy City just in time for the annual Chicago Auto Show.

The new compact sedan is Acura’s attempt to gain traction with both Gen-X and Millennials, especially those entering the luxury market for the first time.  But Acura won’t have it easy, the new model – which first appeared in concept form at last month’s Detroit Auto Show – will go up against an array of tough competitors, from the BMW 3-Series to the Infiniti G and even Buick’s new Regal.

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The look of the production vehicle won’t surprise those who saw the earlier prototype.  The basic shape is the same – minus a few of the chrome accents and high-tech details.  Perhaps the most significant detail is the downsized version of the Acura chrome shield above the car’s grille – a design theme often derided as “the beak.”