Motoring writer Nicholas Henare dishes the automotive dirt on Infinity, a sub-brand of Nissan, and this year’s electrifying range of performance vehicles.
AN INNOVATIVE CORE
Following on from a range of electric vehicles rolling out at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Infiniti Prototype 10 recaptures the spirit of early speedsters for an era of electrified performance. The concept represents a physical manifestation of Infiniti’s creative and ambitious plans. Yet again this year’s range of prototypes have a familiar early 1900s feel to the vehicle, with a flash back to those incredibly well styled vehicles of the 1920s and 30s.
As a brand with technological innovation at its core, electrification is a natural next step for Infiniti. From 2021, every new Infinity model will be electrified, featuring hybrid or battery electric technology to enhance performance. The Prototype 10 provides a window into this desire to deliver driving pleasure, thrilling performance and range confidence. With prototypes built to please the eye as well as the desire to see innovation in driving requirements, Infiniti has produced something to rival even the purest of luxury brands on show at Concours d’Elegance.
“We all feel a certain degree of passion when talking about roadsters and speedsters,” Infiniti President Roland Krueger says. “We are equally passionate about the potential that electrification holds for the future of our cars – a daring speedster is the perfect study for our designers to explore an electrified future and ignite such excitement.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The new concept follows two other design studies revealed by the company in the last 12 months: the Prototype 9 – first revealed in 2017 – and the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept, unveiled at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Where Prototype 9 – a sleek, open-wheeled, electric retro-roadster – imagined an alternative history for Infiniti, the Prototype 10 is resolutely focused on what the future holds for the brand. Utterly daring in its bold execution, the new concept is inspired by the spirit of early speedsters, its form and function evoking driving pleasure and thrilling performance.
“The Infinity Prototype 10 echoes the layout and design of early speedsters,” Executive Design Director for the brand Karim Habib says. “This period saw the creation of some of the most evocative car designs of all time, where power was celebrated through high-powered single-seat competition cars. Our new concept speaks of an electrified future, something which is reflected in its form and details. It is appropriate that we found inspiration in an optimistic bygone era in which cars were characterised by the simple love of driving.”
A future vision realised by Infinity designers, Prototype 10 is informed by some of the most iconic car designs of all time. Its cool, clean forward looking design is further complemented by its electrical performance.
It seems that this year’s prototypes have that all familiar feel and it really is, back to the future.
FORM AND FUNCTION EVOKING DRIVING PLEASURE AND THRILLING PERFORMANCE
When it comes to the automobile, the road to success has been paved with innovation and, although one could argue the automotive vehicle’s modern incarnation works in much the same way as its early predecessors, there’s no denying that it is an industry which continues to push the bounds of technology.
At its heart, the manufacturing processes behind vehicle production are becoming quicker, cheaper, safer, more efficient and better for the environment, with the automotive industry estimated to be 90 percent cleaner than 20 years ago, despite epic increases in production.
The resulting products too are more creative, clever, cleaner and colourful than ever before. We look at the driving forces behind this innovative industry.
TRUCKS TOP CHARTS
In New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud is becoming the land of SUVs and utes, with the best-selling vehicles of the Kiwi automotive charts for the past three years consisting of almost no traditional cars.
The leader of the automotive pack for the past three years, the Ford Ranger headed both the light-commercial and overall new-vehicle sales segments for 2017, ahead of the Toyota Hilux.
The popularity of these beefed up vehicles shows no sign of abating, which brings us to our next automotive trend…
There’s an SUV in the range of almost every mainstream manufacturer now and their ‘souped up’ styling is having an increasing influence on the design of other vehicles, as standard car models become rugged versions of their more traditional rides, with raised suspension and additional body cladding.
In fact, Crossover Utility Vehicles (CUVs) are becoming the darlings of urban forecourts, with the craze expected to continue to increase throughout 2018 as even more manufacturers get in on the action. Often more affordable to purchase and cheaper to run than traditional SUVs, they still offer the raised ride and high driving position we’re craving.
No longer is vehicle shopping a one size fits all affair, with colour customisation proving increasing popular. Manufacturers are accommodating the market’s desire for unique colour combinations and never before have there been so many possibilities.
A popular player in the ‘baby SUV’ market, the Citroen C3 Aircross offers 85 creative combinations, while Nissan offers more than 100 for both the exterior and interior of the small city runaround, the Micra.
HYBRIDS GO HUGE
There’s been a significant increase in interest in petrol hybrids and, as more models hit the market, we can certainly expect this trend to continue.
The longer battery ranges of plug-in hybrids and electric cars further increases their appeal and, as engines get smaller, more economical and cleaner without losing any power, they are getting attention on the mainstream market.
Vehicles are getting smarter, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto heading towards ubiquity in 2018. Making the apps you use on your smartphone available every time you get behind the wheel, options such as Bluetooth, sat-nav and parking sensors – once the domain of premium brands – are now standard features in most new vehicles coming into the market.
And better yet, wireless charging is increasingly common, as the number of smartphone handsets with this capability increases.
SAFETY AS STANDARD
We have seen many more vehicles offered with safety features such as forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking and blind spot detection as standard or at least as an affordable option.
With a greater emphasis being put on safety as a selling point for cars we should begin to see more advanced safety tech as standard as the year goes on.