Star Cars: INFINITI’s Standout Concepts Over the Years

To the Nth Degree: INFINITI Concept Cars

INFINITI has always stood for endless innovation, world-first technologies, and unique designs. Little wonder that its history of concept cars is also noteworthy. Concept cars, which often debut at an international motor show or an automotive concourse, are the very essence of innovation and grand design.

After all, there is something particularly special about a concept car. Free from the constraints of production and market demands, and crafted by designers and engineers relishing the opportunity to push their talents to the nth degree, concepts provide an irresistibly fascinating glimpse of what is possible.

INFINITI engineers and designers have taken great delight designing these noteworthy concepts over the years. They also have a long history of incorporating the best of those innovations into production cars. Here are a few of the most memorable concept designs from INFINITI, and examples of how some of those extraordinary styling elements have found their way into real-world vehicles.

INFINITI Triant Concept

Combining authentic coupe styling, Japanese-influenced design cues, all-wheel drive technology, and dramatic gullwing doors, the Triant was designed as a modern interpretation of a classic grand tourer. Unveiled in 2003, the Triant's theme was "muscular proportion," which the designers achieved through a set-back cabin; long, elegant hood; broad shoulders; steeply raked roofline and generous wheel wells to accommodate the oversized wheels and tires.

"The designers' intent was to remind people of sports cars they used to own or aspire to own, yet at the same time bring to the Triant all the positive features of today's best designs – a high eye position for the driver, good ground clearance and ease of entry and exit," said Mark McNabb, then the vice president and general manager, INFINITI Division.

Style did not overrun substance, as the Triant was a fully capable SUV, complete with height-adjustable suspension. With the powerful V6 engine, it also delivered on-road performance to match its sport coupe-like appearance.

Details such as roof-hinged doors that spanned more than five-and-a-half feet in length and an advanced headlight system, the Triant also set a new standard for engineering prowess and technological innovation. As McNabb explained, "The Triant lets us stretch the envelope a little with some longer-range thinking and design features such as its gullwing doors, GPS-linked 'turning' headlights and flexible rear seating/cargo area."

True to that vision, both the INFINITI FX35 crossover SUV and the FX45 shared the Triant's well-defined wheel arches, muscular proportions, elongated lines and flexible rear seats and cargo space.


Embodying INFINITI's forward-looking vision of luxurious, zero-emission driving, the INIFINITI LE, unveiled in 2012, took its name from the twin pillars of Luxury and Electric. The curvaceous four-door wasn't just an EV; its intent was to link to an integrated home wireless charging system, and use INFINITI's Intelligent Park Assist to precisely guide the LE into position over the Wi-Fi charging pad. Once the LE was in place, power would be inductively transferred from the charging pad into its integrated receiver, safely charging the state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery pack.

With zero cables and – more importantly – zero emissions, the INFINITI LE was an early stake in the ground of electrification that foreshadowed the brand's recent announcement that by 2021, INFINITI will offer a pure electric or e-POWERED option on every model.

INFINITI Q80 Inspiration Concept

Debuting in Paris in 2014, the INFINITI Q80 Inspiration Concept was remarkable as much for its eye-catching shape as the phenomenal performance of its 550hp hybrid electric powertrain.

Its alluring shape, complete with a sculpted boat-tail back, summoned images of a modernized Auburn Speedster, while its wildly luxurious two-tone interior featured quilted leather seats, a Champagne holder in the back, and bull-hide mats so occupants could enjoy a relaxing tactile experience upon removing their shoes.

"Inside, the cabin has two personalities," explained Alfonso Albaisa, INFINITI's chief designer at the time (now Senior Vice President, Global Design, Nissan). "The front is all about the driver, as all the shapes surround him or her, making them feel very much in command. On the other hand, the cabin's silhouette provides a lot of headroom. We've also used the contrast between white and black trim to create the effect of movement in the interior."

INFINITI was making a bold statement in the full-size luxury segment, as the Q80 Inspiration Concept combined future design with a preview of autonomous driving technologies that used cameras, lasers and sensors to offer an ongoing dialogue between vehicle and driver via a clever HUD projected on the windscreen. The Q80 Inspiration Concept foreshadowed the future of INFINITI premium sedans.

"The Q80 Inspiration Concept is the epitome of provocation, a car that breaks the mold of traditional premium sedan dimension and body form," said Albaisa. "We are trying to create an object of rarity, in which you can feel the hand of the artist."

With the introduction of ProPILOT Assist in the new QX50, the Q80 Inspiration Concept's vision of sophisticated driver-assistance technologies has arrived in a production vehicle—as have dramatically crafted two-tone interiors, if the owner so chooses.

INFINITI Q Inspiration Concept

Following on from the Q80 Inspiration and living up to its name, the Q Inspiration Concept, unveiled at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, is arguably the most innovative vehicle yet to come from INFINITI's designers, who took the opportunity presented by the introduction of advanced powertrains to push the boundaries of vehicle interior design.

With a more compact package under the hood, INFINITI designers had additional space to play with, and used that extra room to create a generous cabin that delivers the comfort of a much larger luxury vehicle within the footprint of a mid-size sedan.

With immaculate attention paid to its white leather and natural wood details, the Q Inspiration's interior takes comfort to new heights, thanks to a floating center console, thin-framed zero-gravity seats, a clutter-free instrument panel and a completely flat floor.

"I wanted to challenge the design teams to explore a different kind of elegance," explained Karim Habib, INFINITI's Global Head of Design. "The idea was to keep a simple and clean design that is also a bold product."

INFINITI Prototype 9    

The Q Inspiration may be INFINITI's most innovative concept vehicle, but the Prototype 9 is undeniably its most daring—and unusual. INFINITI showed it to the world for the first time at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concourse d'Elegance. Instead of imagining the future, the Prototype 9 asks what an electric INFINITI grand prix car might have looked like back in the 1940s. Yet it also benefits from today's engineering and craftsmanship advances. The open-wheeler's hand-formed aluminum body houses its EV soul: a 148-horsepower electric motor with 236 pound-feet of torque, and a 30kWh battery powering the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission.

"Prototype 9 started as a discussion – what if INFINITI had created a race car in the 1940s? If one were to imagine an open-wheeled INFINITI racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan's Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like?" said Albaisa. "The sketches were stunning and the idea so compelling that we had to produce a prototype. As other departments became aware of this, they volunteered their time to create a working vehicle."

The Prototype 9 quickly became a passion project for INFINITI designers and engineers around the world and is a perfect example of the past and future melding into something timeless—exactly what happens when INFINITI's teams collaborate at the height of their passion and power.