Shortly after unveiling the QX80 SUV at Dubai, Infiniti revealed the new version of their mid-size QX50 in Hong Kong; what the premium brand is calling their “most compelling” model to date.
Built on an all-new platform, the 2018 QX50 features a world first in the form of a production-ready variable compression ratio petrol engine. This ‘VC-Turbo’ 2.0-litre engine claims to offer the power of a turbocharged petrol engine with the torque and fuel efficiency of a diesel.
Replacing the first-generation QX50’s V6, the multi-link system in this turbo four continually raises or lowers the stroke to transform the compression ratio, thus delivering high compression ratios when required for fuel efficiency and low compression ratios for greater power and increased torque.
Compression changes are said to be seamless, thanks to an advanced multi-link system, while another world first is the Active Torque Rod technology that reduces the transmission of engine vibration through the body by the use of active engine mounts.
Claimed maximum output is 200kW and 380Nm - a best-in-class result for a four-cylinder petrol engine – with fuel economy listed at 10.5lt/100km in FWD form and 10.8lt/100km in AWD. This represents an improvement of 35 and 30 per cent respectively, compared to the V6.
Matched to the new VC-Turbo is an Xtronic CVT transmission, as used on the current QX50. Infiniti says a CVT is the “perfect partner” for the new VC-Turbo.
Front wheel drive is standard, but the QX50 can be optioned with Infiniti’s Intelligent All-Wheel Drive.
The AWD drivetrain constantly monitors traction levels and wheel spin and can send up to 50% of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels. If the rear-wheel traction isn’t required, the drivetrain defaults to FWD. When accelerating from standstill, the system automatically reverts to AWD, with a 50:50 front-to-rear torque split.
The AWD system also features two new elements to its Vehicle Dynamics Control system. Active Brake Limited Slip enables wheels to brake individually and isolate the delivery of torque to those wheels with the most grip, while Active Trace Control provides braking to individual wheels to limit understeer when cornering.
The QX50 also offers two choices of steering: Direct Adaptive or Rack-Electric Power Steering. The former is the world’s first and only digital steering system, while Rack EPS combines conventional rack-and-pinion steering with an electric motor.
The new platform claims to set new standards in refinement, rigidity and interior space. Another first is a use of special high-tensile steel in the body structure for improved strength, reduced weight and improved torsional rigidity of 23 per cent.
In terms of driver and safety tech, the new QX50 features Infiniti’s ProPILOT Assist, which unlike some systems that are moving closer to autonomous driving, actually keeps the driver in control; a feature that Infiniti says was driven by customer feedback.
That said, there is an abundance of features in the system, including smart cruise control, autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist functions.
Style and Space
Exterior styling on the five-seat five-door SUV follows both the QX50 Concept released last year and current Infiniti trends, as part of Infiniti’s ‘Powerful Elegance’ design language. The QX50 design is, however, more curvaceous and less aggressive than the new QX80, with contrast cladding on the wheelarches and sills, and more restrained use of chrome trim.
Exterior dimensions are 4693x1903x1679mm (LxWxH), with a wheelbase of 2800mm and ground clearance of 218mm.
Interior styling features “the artistic application of high-quality materials” to bring out the best features of each material applied. Ventilated leather seats and open-pore maple timber dashboards are signature interior styling touches, with a range of specialty trim and colour combinations available.
The revised packaging presented by the new platform offers 895 litres with all seats occupied (a figure that rivals some large SUVs) and expands up to 1699 litres maximum with the rear seat folded.
The new QX50 has been confirmed for Australian release, with a late-2018 arrival expected.