Infiniti QX80 Monograph heralds new SUV styling

The QX80 Monograph concept, the latest in the luxury line's efforts to make its cars and utility vehicles bolder and racier, aims to show what Nissan Motor Co.'s newly promoted design chief Alfonso Albaisa called “powerful elegance.”

NEW YORK -- Infiniti is extending the expressive, confident styling of its recent QX50 concept and Q60 coupe to its full-size QX80 SUV.

The QX80 Monograph concept, the latest in the luxury line’s efforts to make its cars and utility vehicles bolder and racier, aims to show what Nissan Motor Co.’s newly promoted design chief Alfonso Albaisa called “powerful elegance.”

The design exercise was revealed here Tuesday to journalists on the eve of the New York auto show.

“The QX80 Monograph is an exploration of how we plan to take a step forward in the large SUV segment,” Francois Bancon, Infiniti’s vice president for global product strategy, said in a statement.

The QX80 is a key piece of the brand’s sales volume, providing a rich transaction price but also drawing a younger, high-end clientele than a typical full-size premium SUV normally attracts, according to the company.

In the U.S., Infiniti sold 5,355 QX80s in the first three months of the year, a 32 percent increase from the same period in 2016. The vehicle was last redesigned for the 2011 model year, when Nissan began producing it off its global -- but non-U.S. -- Nissan Patrol platform.

Albaisa, the head of Infiniti design before his promotion last month, said in a statement that Infiniti sought out customers’ opinions on what a luxury SUV should communicate for the styling.

The Monograph’s double arch grille is taller and wider than the current model’s and features a more noticeable and deeper mesh, according to Albaisa.

The design incorporates a blacked-out A-pillar that is flush with the side windows and windshield and a crescent D-pillar that is cut sharper than on the current model. A body line runs from the grille to the rear of the vehicle.

Infiniti intends to use the Monograph approach in future design work, explaining that the word signifies a specific focus rather than a presentation of an entire vehicle.

The concept features pop-out door handles for a cleaner body surface and more intricate headlamps in Infiniti’s signature “human eye” style. An underbody cover runs the length of the floor to improve aerodynamic performance.

The Monograph, shown at an off-site venue in Manhattan, came from Infiniti’s studio in Atsugi, Japan. The company said it does not intend to put the Monograph concept on display at the show.

Infiniti intends to use the Monograph approach in future design work, explaining that the word signifies a specific focus rather than a presentation of an entire vehicle.

For the QX80, the “monograph” is focused solely on its exterior appearance, Albaisa said.

Infiniti’s practice in recent years has been to transition its concept vehicles into production with little change in styling.

The brand has a lot riding on the next-generation QX80 when it reaches showrooms in the next year or two. Infiniti is positioning itself within the Renault-Nissan Alliance as the showcase brand for new technologies from both automaker partners.

That means that the production version of the next QX80 can expect to carry some of the most advanced features and technologies available in the alliance when it goes on sale.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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