At a Paris Motor Show marked by the absence of a number of key brands, Infiniti seems determined to fill in the gaps. The Japanese luxury brand rolled into the City of Lights with a pair of updated models, as well as the debut of a radical new engine design that could give gasoline propulsion some new life in the face of a quickening assault by battery power and other alternative technologies.
From a product standpoint, the big news is the world debut of the updated Infiniti Q50, the midsize sedan receiving some styling tweaks and a number of technology upgrades for the 2017 model-year. Also on hand, the “design evolution” of the QX Inspiration that first grabbed the spotlight last April and hints at the future styling language for the Infiniti brand.
Arguably, the most dramatic news centers around the debut of the VC-Turbo, the world’s first production engine that can automatically alter its own compression ratio to find the sweet spot, at any moment, for performance, fuel economy and emissions.
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Automakers around the world are struggling to cope with increasingly tough mileage and emissions standards, many experts warning that the only solution is to adopt electrified powertrain technology. But while the era of alternative power seems increasingly unavoidable, the Infiniti VC-Turbo could ensure that the internal combustion engine retains a place on the highway.
A concept many manufacturers have toyed with over the decades, Nissan’s new 2.0-liter engine can adjust its compression ratio anywhere from 8:1, for performance, to 14:1, for better fuel efficiency.
While still in the late development stage, the maker is targeting an output of 268 horsepower and 287 pound-feet of torque. That, the Nissan subsidiary says, will put it into solid V-6 territory, even while delivering the mileage of a smaller inline-four. The engine is compact and, Infiniti claims, has relatively low levels of noise and vibration, especially when compared with diesels that yield similar fuel economy.
While Infiniti is being close-lipped about some key details, brand President Roland Krueger said, “This new technology will be available in new Infiniti models from 2018.”
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You won’t have that much of a wait for the new Infiniti Q50. In fact, it should be arriving in showrooms soon. The updates are modest outside, with new colors and new customization options. The Red Sport 400, appropriately enough, now boasts new red brake calipers.
Inside, along with new wood and upholstery choices, the 2017 Q50 gets an optional, 13-speaker Bose Performance Series Sound System. Along with the Infiniti Q60, it becomes the only car in the world to offer the audiophile package.
Rounding things out, Infiniti’s well-received QX Inspiration is making its return. Originally revealed at the Beijing Motor Show last April, it is meant to be a design statement hinting at where the luxury brand sees itself heading.
That future is fluid, as the Paris update reveals. There are new colors and finishes, and, among other things, the show car gets some more elegant details, such as kick plate lighting at all four doors. Meanwhile, the Inspiration now rides on 22-inch wheels in a distinctive bronze hue, with matching brake calipers.
Infiniti has frequently used its show cars to signal what’s coming with products like the Q30 and QX30. It’s a safe bet the same will be the case with the Infiniti QX Inspiration.
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