It’s Time to Take Another Look at Infiniti

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When was the last time an Infiniti product set your pants on fire? If you’re like me, the answer is never. They’ve had a couple hits, but I can count memorable Infinitis on part of one hand. Aesthetically, the Infinity livery has ranged from forgettable beige boxes, to a mash-up of swoopy lines I wish I could forget. Until now…

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The new Q series looks great. They have a nose-down aggressive posture, and angry headlights on either side of a low-mounted, tidy grille. The aesthetic looks a bit like the latest Maserati Ghibli, and that’s not a bad thing. If you’re gonna look like something, it’s better to look like something exceptional.

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VC-Turbo – Variable Compression Turbo

The intrigue doesn’t just run skin deep either. Infiniti revealed a new engine at last year. This isn’t just a new valve timing management system (it has that too), or a hybrid setup. It’s the first really new idea to be implemented on internal combustion engines in recent memory. Infiniti touts it as “the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine.”

They call it the VC-Turbo (Variable Compression Turbo). And if all goes right, it will be the world’s first variable compression ratio engine in production vehicles.  The first ones will be available in 2018 model Infinitis.

The new power-plant dynamically adjusts compression ratios by moving the rotating assembly up and down within the engine case. The design uses a lever to move the crankshaft journals, crank, pistons, and rods, higher up into the cylinders to squish the compressed gasses into a tighter space resulting in higher compression. 14:1 to be exact. Lowering the rotating assembly will lower the compression to 8:1.  Having trouble visualizing it? Here’s the best video I found to explain things.

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Neat, but will it work? Well, Infiniti says they’ve been working on the design for two decades, they’ve made loads of models, and they’ve driven them a couple million miles. So, it’s sounds pretty viable to me, but I can’t imagine the expense when something goes wrong. And it will inevitably go wrong, that’s the nature of cars. It will be exciting to see how it all shakes out in 2018.

 

INFINITI Prototype 9 – A Retro Prototype

Infiniti started by teasing us with images in press releases and on their Instagram feed of a mid-century Grand Prix inspired concept car to be unveiled at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

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The classic boat tail styling looks beautiful. The brakes, visible just inside of those tall skinny tires, are made imitate the look of finned drum brakes. But they are in fact a set of non-boosted discs. The wire wheels with center knock-offs are things of beauty.

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The body is made from steel and sits on a steel frame. The long hood arcs back from the top if a gorgeous deco-inspired grill, to a teeny tiny little windshield. In this case less is more.

The suspension up front is a solid axle under a transverse leaf spring. And out back there’s a DeDion set up, again with a transverse mounted leaf spring. For shock absorbers Infiniti chose to go with old-school hydraulic rotary dampers. Designers took the time to wrap the suspension parts in beautiful body work.

The steering is a manual system, which can’t help but have a direct feel. Chances are this thing rides like a covered wagon. But who cares? Just look at it.

You may be searching the images for some sweet looking exhaust pipes, but you won’t find them on this ride. Infiniti dropped a little 21st century technology in among all those vintage good look. This thing is powered by a 148 hp electric motor that produces 236 lb-ft of torque. All that power in a vehicle that weighs just shy of a ton has to be a blast to drive.

Infiniti claims Prototype 9 has a top speed of 105 mph, gets to 62 mph from from a standstill in 5.5 seconds. The electric motor is powered by lithium Ion batteries that are said to deliver 20 minutes of heavy track use. You can take a look at the tech specs here.

It looks like Infiniti is attempting to redefine how people perceive the brand. Good looking cars combined with interesting engine technology and an apparent interest in creative projects sound like a recipe for further success. I hope that we see more great stuff from Infiniti in 2018.

Love it? Hate it? Let me know in the comment section.

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