On The Road with GRUBBS INFINITI: Austin, Tx

Did you know that Austin, Texas is almost as large as New York City?  Or that it’s home to about 1.5 million bats, the largest urban bat colony in North America?  Or that it was originally named “Waterloo”?  I learned most of these things on a recent road trip to our State’s capital in an QX60 on a sunny weekend in Spring. 

The goal: soak up some history, eat some good BBQ, breakfast tacos and Gourdoughs “Blueballs” and see how the INFINITI QX60 felt on a road where the speed limit is 85 mph.

So here’s our itinerary and some input on what we think makes for a great Austin weekend.

Leaving Grubbs INFINITI in Grapevine and hopping on I35, we headed for the Czech Stop in West, Texas.  Bluebonnets carpet the sides of the road and it’s one of my favorite things about living in the Lone Star State.  It’s a tradition for my family to pick a good spot, plop down (being careful not to sit on any fire ants) and snap some pictures for friends and family.  It makes a perfect tableau as we enjoy the ride.  To be fair, packing a crew into a QX60 is easy since it offers three rows of seating and every detail is there for comfort and safety. 

Arriving at the Czech Stop, we all head inside to the Little Czech Bakery and their famous Kolaches. Where do I start?  Do you go savory or sweet?  My personal favorites include the raspberry cream cheese and the blueberry, but you can’t ignore the very berry or the lemon curd.  And, if you’re hungry, you should grab a sausage with cheese kolache and a few jalapeño poppers.  Just do yourself a favor and get a dozen or so, load them into your INFINITI and get back on I35 and Austin.

We make a quick stop at the Dr Pepper Museum in Waco and check out the collection of impressive Dr Pepper memorabilia and then we’re back on the road, munching the kolaches and enjoying the entertainment package in the QX60.  There’s two 8-inch screens for rear-seat passengers to enjoy movies and games and my kids absolutely love it.  And, when my wife and I just can’t listen to Frozen one more time, there’s wireless headphones that allow everybody to enjoy what they want. 

DFW to Austin is about a 3.5 hour drive and very soon, we can see the Capital building rising from downtown.  Everyone decides that we’re ready for some food and I recommend Fukumoto Sushi.  If you happen to visit during Happy Hour, I suggest you order from their menu top to bottom: you won’t be disappointed.  The tempura green beans were especially good and some of the tofu dishes would make it very easy to go vegetarian.  It’s a casual, fun atmosphere and a place where the locals go to relax and get a good deal on some tasty dishes.  It’s a good call for the road trip.

Fortified with sushi, we head for the Capital Building and there’s a great self-guided tour that shows you the “areas of significance” including the Senate Chamber, the Rotunda and the Governor’s Public Reception room.  It’s a interesting look into Texas government and although we kept looking for the governor, he never made an appearance.  I personally like to include a little history when I visit a city and the Capital building does a great job giving you lots of interesting information including the details I included at the beginning of this blog.  So mission accomplished, we left and made our way to check out some of the local graffiti that is so famous in Austin.

It’s no secret that Austin is a little “weird”.  In fact, one of their more famous slogans is, “Keep Austin Weird” and I think that it’s more about supporting things that are usual and interesting than actual weirdness.  The graffiti scene is part of the unusual and we had done a little research online to make sure to include some of the best examples of street art.  In many cities, graffiti is discouraged, but in Austin, it’s celebrated.  There seems to be an understood that there are areas that are approved and areas that are off-limits and the artists respect that understanding.  So as we zip around in the QX60, the murals unfold and include both the beautiful and the bizarre.  Bold, vivid colors merge into black and white reliefs and the talent is undeniable.  You could easily see some of the work in a museum, but instead they’re on the sides of buildings being slowly worn away by time and the elements.  It’s a worthwhile tour and I hope you enjoy some of the examples we captured.

Finally, we make some stops for something sweet and Gelateria Gemelli off 6th Street is fantastic.  The flavors are pretty traditional and the peanut butter and salted caramel and  are worth the calories.  The line was out the door, but it moved quickly and the servers were friendly and patient when we wanted to try about 5 or 6 flavors.  We then zipped over to Gourdough’s and just stared at the menu for a while.  Donut Burgers?  Hmmmm.  The “Blueballs” are famous so we grabbed an order of the blueberry stuffed donuts with blue icing and decided they were delicious.  Climbing back into the INFINITI, we let the sugar rush subside and vowed to return to Austin to try more restaurants and catch a glimpse of the famous bats.  The locals let us know they’re weren’t flying when we visited, so it gave us a good excuse to come back in the near future. 

As always, experiencing the LoneStar state in an INFINITI is a good way to really see what makes it so special.  When you make little stops along the way, you get to meet new people, try new food and get a real feel for what makes it “tick”.  To be fair, the QX60 is a true luxury ride and everyone had plenty of room to spread out, relax and enjoy the sunny blue skies and gentle roll of the hills as we made our way through the Texas hill country.  It’s a good trip and easily done in a weekend.  Be sure to pick up some kolaches.  If you want to bring some over to Grubbs INFINITI, well, we wouldn’t say no.

See you on the road.

George Grubbs III

Owner/President

 

INFINITI and Renault Sport Formula One join forces to create Project Black S

  • Project Black S explores the potential for a new INFINITI high-performance model line
  • Radical reinterpretation of the INFINITI Q60 coupe hints at performance hybrid powertrain, inspired by Formula One energy recovery systems
  • Extensive use of carbon fiber for revised design that enhances aerodynamic performance and cooling
  • Makes its public debut at the 2017 Geneva International Motor Show

 

GENEVA – INFINITI’s Project Black S explores the potential for a new INFINITI performance grade, featuring unique-for-the-road technology inspired by Formula One.

Suggesting a radical reinterpretation of the INFINITI Q60 coupe, the Project Black S features a stand-out, aerodynamically-optimized new design. It also hints at how a performance hybrid powertrain – developed in close collaboration with the Renault Sport Formula One Team – could significantly enhance the performance and dynamics of an INFINITI production car.

The performance hybrid powertrain being explored through Project Black S features an ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS) to harvest energy, deploying recovered electric power to boost power and torque. The result is instant, significant, lag-free acceleration. Inspired by the dual-hybrid system proven in Formula One, the technology does not yet exist in a current road car.

A new ‘Black S’ grade, showcased by the new concept, could represent the maximum level of performance and dynamic capability offered by INFINITI. The company believes there is potential for a ‘Black S’ grade that offers progressive levels of product enhancement – including higher power and torque from innovative powertrains, new or uprated suspension systems, and unique design elements.

The unveiling of the Project Black S concept at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show will help to gauge potential interest in high-performance derivatives of INFINITI cars.

 

Project Black S: in collaboration with Renault Sport Formula One

  • Project Black S is a celebration of INFINITI’s relationship with the Renault Sport Formula One Team
  • Two Alliance partners collaborate to develop powerful Formula One-inspired performance hybrid powertrain and carbon fiber bodywork

INFINITI is the premium car manufacturer within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, and a technical partner to the Renault Sport Formula One Team, so it is natural that we come together to explore the possibility of bringing innovative high-performance hybrid technology to our customers.”

Roland Krueger, President of INFINITI

Project Black S is a collaborative venture between INFINITI and its Renault-Nissan Alliance partner, the Renault Sport Formula One Team, celebrating the relationship between the two.

After five years as a sponsor in Formula One, INFINITI made the move to become a technical partner in 2016. Drawing on the expertise gained developing hybrid technologies during this time, the company has supported the Renault Sport Formula One Team’s development of a dual-hybrid powertrain with an ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS), contributing knowledge in hybrid technology and additional engineering resources.

This technical collaboration has enabled INFINITI to explore the potential for a road-going Formula One-inspired ERS system – a first for a production vehicle. With its multiple links to motorsport, Project Black S would be the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s first consumer-facing Formula One-inspired car. INFINITI has also called upon the team’s high level of expertise in advanced composite materials to create the carbon fiber bodywork elements of the Project Black S.

INFINITI continues to benefit – operationally and technically – from its position within the thriving Renault-Nissan Alliance. The 18-year old partnership sold close to 10-million vehicles in 2016, one in nine of all cars sold globally. That represents Alliance sales growth of 16.8 per cent over 2015 results and marks the Alliance as the fourth largest automaker. Combined savings of €4.3bn in 2015 were achieved through closer integration and synergy efficiencies.

Performance engineering: Formula One hybrid technology for the road

  • INFINITI is investigating the potential for unique Formula One-inspired hybrid technology in a production car
  • Energy recovery system could contribute to a 25 percent increase in power for INFINITI’s new 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine

INFINITI is leading the way with innovative new powertrain technology for consumers, such as the award-winning 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine, and VC-Turbo, the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine. With Project Black S, we are looking at how a unique performance hybrid energy recovery system could be adapted from Formula One for use on the road.”

Francois Bancon, Vice President, Global Product Strategy, INFINITI

With Project Black S, INFINITI is exploring the possibility of bringing to market a unique road-ready performance hybrid powertrain.

Project Black S suggests how higher power and torque output could be deployed by fusing the performance hybrid technology with the award-winning 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo engine, the most advanced V6 engine INFINITI has ever offered. An innovative ‘energy recovery system’ (ERS) could contribute to greater performance.

In its Formula One application, the technology employs two types of motor generator unit (MGU) and a battery pack to gather, store and recycle electrical energy. The Renault Sport Formula One ERS system features an MGU-K unit to harvest kinetic energy from braking, and an MGU-H unit – fitted to the turbocharger – to harvest heat energy from exhaust gases.

The energy harvested by each of the MGUs is stored in high-rate discharge lithium-ion batteries, with the recovered electric power deployed to rotate the crankshaft and turbocharger turbine blades more quickly.

Project Black S explores how MGU technology, paired with high-rate discharge batteries, could be adapted for road use. A production car with Formula One-inspired performance hybrid technology would benefit from greater power and torque, and instant, lag-free acceleration. INFINITI powertrain engineers have calculated that a performance hybrid ERS could contribute to an approximate 25% improvement in maximum power output.

INFINITI believes the Q60 sports coupe could provide the ideal platform for a performance hybrid powertrain, and the concept vehicle revealed in Geneva features a range of further modifications to realize maximum performance. These include a new high-performance titanium twin exhaust system, maximizing the efficiency of air flow through the powertrain.

Project Black S also suggests how lightweight 21-inch wheels and wider performance tires could be deployed for greater traction, while hinting at a weight reduction program to fully offset the additional weight of the performance hybrid system. A ‘Black S’ production car could also benefit from further tuning and modifications to the chassis and suspension.

A performance-inspired design aesthetic

  • Project Black S to help gauge potential interest in a ‘Black S’ grade
  • Extensive use of carbon fiber aids aerodynamic efficiency and enables a motorsport-inspired aesthetic with beneficial weight saving

“Project Black S is a daring and elevated representation of INFINITI’s performance DNA. It expresses our desire to create cars that are designed to perform, marrying the potency of a high-performance powertrain with a muscular new design. This project has given us the opportunity to experiment with advanced materials to create a performance-inspired aesthetic that draws on INFINITI’s motorsport ties through the Alliance.”

Alfonso Albaisa, Executive Design Director, INFINITI

The ‘Black S’ grade, hinted at with Project Black S, signifies INFINITI’s desire to realize higher levels of performance and driver engagement. ‘Black S’ models could expand what the existing INFINITI range offers drivers, with higher performance, powertrain developments, modified chassis settings, and a range of performance-inspired design elements. The introduction of a ‘Black S’ specification would enhance INFINITI’s reputation as a manufacturer of premium vehicles that customers love to drive.

Project Black S hints at a more aggressive, performance-enhanced offering from INFINITI. Design work has been led by INFINITI’s London studio in Paddington, under the management of the INFINITI Global Design Center in Japan. The INFINITI Design London team has created an interpretation of the Q60 sports coupe with Formula One-inspired, performance hybrid power in mind.

The concept vehicle is finished in matte grey and black. Gloss black trim replaces the chrome found on the standard car, which surrounds the double-arch grille and lines the crescent-cut C-pillar.

The extensive application of carbon fiber elevates the Project Black S concept above other INFINITI grades as the ultimate expression of a driver’s car, drawing inspiration from the brand’s involvement with motorsport. Alluding to the performance potential of a ‘Black S’ model, the use of carbon fiber has allowed INFINITI to sculpt thin, blade-like design forms that would not be possible with traditional materials, such as metal or fiberglass. While the Q60’s organic and artistic design aesthetic remains, the use of carbon fiber has added a more technical element. Not only is the composite more adaptable; it is also incredibly strong, and carbon fiber components could be used to balance aerodynamic efficiency with high downforce.

Large front splitter, rear diffuser, fenders and side skirts are all constructed out of carbon fiber to minimize weight and enhance downforce, while ultra-thin aero ‘blades’ in the side sills ahead of the rear wheels channel air around the lower body of the car. A large fixed rear wing – also made of carbon fiber – stands proud of the trunk lid, increasing downforce at speed.

Deep body stamping from the Q60’s manufacturing process allows the Project Black S to retain the sports coupe’s deep creases and flowing lines. For the concept, INFINITI designers have wrought a series of changes to create a more daring – even aggressive – design execution.

Enlarged air intakes at the front of the car are more effective at channeling cooling air into the engine bay and brakes, and new hood vents help evacuate heat. At the rear, the body is shaped to allow circulating air to escape as quickly and efficiently as possible, aided by vertical aero foils and the large rear wing for maximum downforce and high-speed stability.

Forged 21-inch aluminum alloy wheels – highlighted by wheel arch extensions – are larger, wider and lighter than those on the standard Q60, adding to the performance image of the concept while also reducing unsprung mass and rotational inertia at each corner.

Future potential

Project Black S suggests what a ‘Black S’ grade could offer customers, and the concept’s debut in Geneva will help INFINITI gauge potential interest in daring high-performance derivatives of its cars that benefit from genuine motorsport technology.

About INFINITI
INFINITI Motor Company Ltd. is headquartered in Hong Kong with representations in 50 markets around the world. The INFINITI brand was launched in 1989. Its range of premium automobiles is currently built in manufacturing facilities in Japan, the United States, United Kingdom and China.  INFINITI plans to also expand manufacturing into Mexico by 2017.

INFINITI design studios are located in Atsugi-Shi near Yokohama, London, San Diego and Beijing.

INFINITI is in the middle of a major product offensive.  The brand has been widely acclaimed for its daring design and innovative driver-assistance technologies.

From the 2016 season, INFINITI is a technical partner of the Renault Sport Formula One team, contributing its expertise in hybrid performance.

INFINITI and NCAA present second annual Coaches vs. Cancer® Hardwood Heroes game

PHOENIX, Ariz. – On March 31 at 10 a.m. PST, two teams of cancer survivors — called Hardwood Heroes — will go head-to-head at the University of Phoenix Stadium to raise awareness for cancer research and survival.

This game returns for a second year as a part of INFINITI’s long-standing partnership with Coaches vs. Cancer®, the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) and the NCAA. Also a part of this partnership is the Round by Round Bracket Challenge, an INFINITI tradition since 2011 that has resulted in more than $4.1 million in donations to Coaches vs. Cancer.

The Hardwood Heroes teams are led by four NCAA coaches with impressive winning backgrounds. Team Harrick, led by returning Coach Jim Harrick and Assistant Coach Doug Gottlieb, is made up of returning Hardwood Heroes players, including Mike Thompson (Austin), Harrison Guiol (San Antonio), Scott Odom (Fort Worth), Walter Gordy (Houston), Christina Davis (Houston), Iram Leon (Austin) and Lexi Stephens (Houston).

Team Ryan, led by Coach Bo Ryan and Assistant Coach Miles Simon, will have all new Hardwood Heroes players, including Lena Spotleson (Phoenix), Kristina Anderson (Scottsdale), Melissa Kovalesky (Phoenix), Oscar Barragan (Phoenix), Jared Ornoski (Phoenix), Devon Hinton (Dallas) and J. Dee Marinko (Oklahoma City).

“These survivors have proven that they are unstoppable, and each player has a story of courage and strength in winning their own battle against cancer,” said Allyson Witherspoon, director of marketing communications and media, INFINITI USA. “We had the opportunity to capture their unique stories and behind-the-scenes moments that will air throughout March Madness® and the Final Four®.”

In support of this initiative, CBS Sports and Turner Sports will capture footage at the Hardwood Heroes team practices and game during their coverage of Final Four weekend. Highlights will air between the two Final Four semifinal games on Saturday, April 1, and prior to tip-off on Championship Monday on CBS.

INFINITI is also sponsoring the Tip-Off Tailgate, the on-site, pre-game fan experience where fans can enjoy music, participate in a free throw competition and take a look at the Coaches vs. Cancer commemorative wall signed by the Hardwood Heroes. They can also get a closer look at the 2017 INFINITI QX30.

The Round by Round Bracket Challenge, which launches March 12, is a way for basketball fans to join INFINITI in the fight against cancer. For every correct pick during the challenge, INFINITI will donate $1 to Coaches vs. Cancer, and participants will be entered to win a trip to the Final Four® tournament.

Learn more about INFINITI’s fight against cancer and watch the Hardwood Heroes players tell their stories, visit www.infinitiusa.com/hardwoodx-heroes.

QX50 Concept: INFINITI’s vision for a next-generation mid-size premium crossover

DETROIT – Making its global premiere at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the QX50 Concept showcases INFINITI’s vision for a next-generation mid-size premium crossover.

Demonstrating how the design of the 2016 QX Sport Inspiration, its conceptual forebear, could be adapted for a future production model, the QX50 Concept confidently articulates INFINITI’s ‘Powerful Elegance’ design language. A ‘cabin-forward’ silhouette combines with muscular lines and flowing surfaces to telegraph its purpose as a dynamic and practical crossover.

The organic forms of the ‘driver-centric, passenger-minded’ cabin were designed in harmony with the exterior shape. Blending progressive design with modern craftsmanship, the QX50 Concept’s interior reflects INFINITI’s desire to challenge conventional approaches to premium interior design.

INFINITI’s latest concept is the next step toward the company’s future autonomous drive support technologies. Central to the strategy for the development of all future INFINITI autonomous drive support systems, they ensure the driver retains ultimate control over their vehicle – in keeping with INFINITI’s focus on driver engagement.

Furthermore, the QX50 Concept illustrates a potential application for INFINITI’s advanced Variable Compression Turbo (VC-Turbo) engine, offering drivers a powertrain that adapts to offer both power and efficiency.

An evolution of INFINITI’s 2016 QX Sport Inspiration mid-size crossover

  • The QX50 Concept shows how INFINITI could develop its future presence in the world’s fastest-growing vehicle segment
  • INFINITI seeks to explore a more emotional execution of crossover design than existing models in the class

With the unveiling of the QX Sport Inspiration at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, we showed the future of INFINITI QX models. The new QX50 Concept evolves this concept further and shows how INFINITI could develop its future presence in what is the fastest-growing vehicle segment globally.” Roland Krueger, President of INFINITI

With the QX50 Concept, INFINITI seeks to explore a more emotional execution of crossover design, bringing a degree of elegance and artistry to a segment typified by an uninspiring, clinical aesthetic. Marrying human artistry with utility, the QX50 Concept fulfills the expectation of practicality with a spacious cabin and cargo area. Furthermore, with a design adapted for the greatest possible packaging efficiency, the QX50 Concept previews how INFINITI could adapt future vehicle designs to accommodate a compact powertrain, such as the company’s VC-Turbo engine.

The QX50 Concept marks the next stage in INFINITI’s continued renewal of its product range. INFINITI designs concepts with production intent, such as true-to-concept production versions of the Q30, QX30 and Q60 concepts. The creation of each of these has previewed the design and layout of the brand’s next-generation models. The QX50 Concept previews the evolving signature INFINITI design elements, demonstrating how they could be adapted for a mid-sized premium crossover.

With its ground breaking proportions, the 2003 INFINITI FX45 set the template for future crossovers to follow throughout the last decade. The world’s first mid-size multi-purpose sports vehicle, the INFINITI FX is still considered a crossover design icon today. Last year’s QX Sport Inspiration sought to rekindle that excitement – and in an increasingly crowded and popular market segment, the new QX50 Concept now illustrates how these design themes could be translated into a production reality.

Exterior: an artistic execution of functional crossover design

  • QX50 Concept represents the latest interpretation of INFINITI’s ‘Powerful Elegance’ design language
  • Its design combines taut and muscular lines with heavily profiled surfaces
  • QX50 Concept demonstrates how the design of the 2016 QX Sport Inspiration could be adapted for future production models

Influenced by the design of the INFINITI QX Sport Inspiration, the QX50 Concept expresses its crossover purpose through proportional clarity, clearly telegraphing its power and dynamic capabilities. The QX50 Concept eschews many of the familiar, ‘me too’ design forms and themes shared by established models in the mid-size premium crossover segment. The result is a highly original yet practical new crossover form, demonstrating how the design of INFINITI’s earlier concept could be adapted for future production models.

The QX50 Concept is the latest embodiment of INFINITI’s ‘Powerful Elegance’ design language and is both aesthetic and functional. The exterior of the concept combines taut and muscular lines with flowing, heavily profiled surfaces. A sharp, straight character line runs from the clamshell hood and along the length of its shoulders, giving the QX50 Concept a commanding presence and extending the vehicle’s visual length. A wide, muscular stance accentuates its versatile capability.

INFINITI’s signature design elements are evident on the QX50 Concept, each subtly evolved for their new application. At the front, INFINITI’s double-arch grille conveys an immediate sense of power and purpose and provides a focal point for every line on the concept’s body. A taller, wider and more practical vehicle than the QX Sport Inspiration, the QX50 Concept’s grille adds a greater sense of presence to the front of the car. At the rear of the vehicle, the leading edge of the crescent-cut D-pillar is higher than on any current INFINITI production car, further extending the visual length of the roofline.

The interplay of the exterior lines and surfaces is accentuated by a newly-created Forged Bronze paint finish, with three times the amount of metal flake compared with standard production paint finishes.

In profile, the hood is shaped like the rise of a snake’s head, with a pair of sharp creases extending upwards from the base of the A-pillar, then plunging down the hood, leading into the edges of the expansive ‘double-arch’ grille. These lines disguise the hood’s relatively short length, suggesting how the appearance of a production car could be adapted for a more compact engine, such as INFINITI’s VC-Turbo, applying power to the road through an intelligent all-wheel drive powertrain.

Functionality is a necessity in the mid-sized crossover segment and is central to the QX50 Concept’s design. More practical than its QX Sport Inspiration progenitor, the QX50 Concept has a ‘cabin-forward’ silhouette and a slightly more vertical rear hatch, both reference points for a versatile and accommodating interior. The new shape of the crescent-cut D-pillar provides clearer over-the-shoulder visibility for the driver and a better view out for rear passengers.

Interior: Challenging conventional thinking on premium cabin design

  • Concept cabin demonstrates new direction of thinking with premium materials and craftsmanship
  • Authentic materials and artistic design execution is at the heart of the concept’s carefully curated cabin
  • Driver-centric, yet passenger-minded, the cabin places similar importance on both form and function

Blending progressive design with elevated levels of modern craftsmanship, the cabin of the QX50 Concept demonstrates INFINITI’s desire to challenge and reinterpret conventional thinking on premium crossover interior design and material usage.

In the place of high-gloss woods and soft-touch plastics, the interior of the QX50 Concept features a more modern application of wood, leather and stitching. Each material is treated and applied in a way to establish new trends in the design of premium crossover interiors.

Deliberately articulating a sense of advanced human artistry, the QX50 Concept’s cabin espouses a handmade feel and is the result of two Japanese approaches to craftsmanship – ‘mitate’ (pronounced “mee-ta-teh”) and ‘shitate’ (“shee-ta-teh”). ‘Mitate’ relates to the practice of curating and bringing together the best possible selection of materials. ‘Shitate’ is the desire to tailor the chosen combination of materials, bringing out the best. With fine attention to detail and finish, such an approach creates an appearance and ambience throughout the cabin greater than the sum of its parts.

The combination of materials and the way in which they have been applied has allowed INFINITI designers to demonstrate some of the highest levels of craftsmanship ever seen in a crossover in this segment.

The QX50 Concept is wrapped in a variety of different leathers – genuine, semi-aniline, and synthetic nubuck – for a rich variety of textures and visual depth. The eyes naturally follow each different surface as it flows around the cabin. The QX50 Concept’s cabin hints at a widening range of interior finishes for INFINITI customers to choose from, including a carefully selected three-tone color scheme.

Adopting different leathers for the interior allows INFINITI to imagine how this three-tone cabin could look. Rich, brown leather lines the upper layer of the cabin, contrasted with white leather for the lower dashboard, door trim and seats. Between the two runs a line of navy blue synthetic nubuck, which also finishes the front center console. A line of close twin stitching runs along the top of the dashboard and doors, and around the seats.

INFINITI has applied for a patent for a new ‘dot quilting’ method for the leather that lines the doors and seats. Inspired by classic buttoned leather sofas, dot quilting is sewn into place at individual points. The physical characteristics of the leather produce a more informal interpretation of the diamond lozenge shape that gives classic Chesterfield lounge chairs their distinctive appearance.

Where many expect premium vehicle interiors use high-gloss wood surfaces to create the perception of quality, the QX50 Concept is trimmed in real, open-pore ash. The wood is treated to retain its natural, and sometimes irregular, characteristics in texture and appearance. Running a hand over it, the grain of the ash is still present, providing an authentic, modern appearance and enhanced tactility.

The natural, flowing shapes of the cabin harmonize with those of the QX50 Concept’s exterior, contrasting with the technical, linear – even austere – designs of other vehicles in the segment. A blend of positive and negative surfaces adds a level of visual depth to the cabin, with a complex interplay of light and shade. The organic lines of the cabin follow a similar form to the interior of the QX Sport Inspiration, referencing how they could be progressed from the original concept to a production car.

Both ‘driver-centric’ and ‘passenger-minded,’ the layout of the QX50 Concept’s cabin is divided into distinct zones for the driver and passengers. Consistent with its conceptual predecessor, the dashboard is focused on the driver, using its form and appearance to engender a true sense of confidence at the wheel.

The horizontal forms of the dashboard wrap around the driver and passenger, with twisting, uninterrupted character lines flowing from the center console, along the dashboard and out to the rear of the cabin. The seats feature an ergonomic hexagon motif, for a wide and welcoming appearance, and maximum back and shoulder support for occupants.

The QX50 Concept places form on the same level as function, with utility at the heart of its remit.

In moving the base of the A-pillar further forward than on the QX Sport Inspiration, and shortening the hood to accommodate a more compact engine, the QX50 Concept’s cabin-forward design creates a longer, more spacious passenger compartment. The upright stance of the rear hatch – more vertical than its forebear – is designed to give the QX50 Concept exceptional cargo space. The Concept’s cargo bay is, for instance, long enough to store a stroller, suggesting how such a vehicle could suit a young family.

The QX50 Concept’s Graphic User Interface shows how new technologies could be incorporated into future INFINITI vehicle cabins.

The center of the dashboard features a wide touchscreen HMI (human-machine interface). As well as displaying navigation and infotainment features, the QX50 Concept’s touchscreen could display to occupants the current status of other technologies in the vehicle. The dashboard could display to all occupants the status of the vehicle’s various driver assist technologies, as well as how the VC-Turbo variable compression ratio engine adapts as it shifts seamlessly between offering greater fuel efficiency and performance.

INFINITI engineers continue to develop autonomous driving support technologies

  • INFINITI’s future autonomous drive support technologies will allow the driver to   retain ultimate control over their vehicle
  • Future package of technologies will take a proactive approach to driver assistance and delegate elements of driving to the car

The INFINITI QX50 Concept’s driver assist system is part of the company’s development of autonomous driving support technologies.

The development strategy for all future INFINITI autonomous drive support systems is that they should ensure the driver retains control over their vehicle – in keeping with INFINITI’s focus on driver engagement.

In the future, INFINITI autonomous drive support technologies will continue to make driving less stressful – such as navigating stop-start traffic on the highway or keeping track of the positions of surrounding vehicles.

Since its inception in 1989, INFINITI has brought pioneering driver-assistive technologies to the customer. The company has been responsible for a series of world-first technologies, including Predictive Forward Collision Warning, drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering® and Active Lane Control.

The QX50 Concept’s INFINITI driver assistance technologies preview the first production-ready incarnation of this package.

With a proactive approach to safety, the QX50 Concept assists the driver in identifying and responding to other road users and potential hazards. Future technologies will draw on inputs from a network of laser scanners, radar and cameras to read the road ahead and monitor the vehicle’s surroundings, allowing the car to react accordingly.

This framework of sensors will be developed in future production models with a series of new functionalities.

VC-Turbo – the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine

  • QX50 Concept suggests a potential application for INFINITI’s VC-Turbo engine
  • Packaging benefits for a mid-size crossover, powered by a compact engine with high specific power and efficiency
  • INFINITI engineers target a 27-percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared to V6 gasoline engines

The INFINITI QX50 Concept demonstrates a potential production application for INFINITI’s advanced new VC-Turbo engine. INFINITI has yet to confirm which of its future vehicles could benefit from its variable compression ratio engine, though a mid-sized crossover could be one of the ideal applications for the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo power unit revealed by the company in 2016.

The QX50 Concept’s packaging efficiency and spacious cabin are due in part to a compact, space-efficient engine bay design. With its proportionately shorter hood, the QX50 Concept suggests how the 2.0-liter gasoline engine could power a front-biased intelligent all-wheel drive system.

INFINITI’s production-ready 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine represents a compelling alternative to diesel powertrains, particularly in the mid-sized premium crossover segment. The VC-Turbo engine is able to adapt its compression ratio according to driving conditions to deliver optimal levels of performance and efficiency. It challenges the notion that hybrid technology and diesel are the only powertrains capable of offering high efficiency and torque. For its application in the QX50 Concept, the human-machine interface (HMI) demonstrates to the driver and passengers how the VC-Turbo is adapting according to driving conditions. The HMI displays the engine’s current status as it intelligently chooses appropriate levels of performance and high efficiency.

With a downsized capacity and high power and torque, the 2.0-liter VC-Turbo engine boasts an impressive specific power output – higher than many competing four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engines, and close to the performance of some V6 gasoline powertrains. In time for the engine’s production debut in 2018, INFINITI engineers are targeting a 27-percent improvement in fuel efficiency over V6 gasoline engines of similar power output.

Hands-free: What it’s like to “Drive” an autonomous drive car

SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Today, I experienced the unusual, thrilling sensation of riding in the driver’s seat of an autonomous-drive car as it navigated the streets of Sunnyvale in California’s Silicon Valley.

The car is an advanced prototype Infiniti Q50 sedan capable of handling complex city driving. It has a special California registration for autonomous drive vehicles, and I had to receive a special state license to operate it hands-free.

What struck me was how quickly I grew comfortable as the car smoothly and safely negotiated the suburban streets, including intersections and dense traffic. Accompanied by an engineer, we simply set the destination, put the car in autonomous drive mode, and off we went – safely, without a hitch.

We went on both the freeway and city streets; there were times when other drivers cut in on us, but never did we feel threatened. Each time the car anticipated the other car’s move and reacted appropriately.

As I mentioned in a recent post, cars that can change lanes on their own, negotiate city streets and handle the drudgery of stop-and-go traffic are coming soon. In fact, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has committed to launch at least 10 models with significant autonomous drive functionality by 2020.

As these technologies advance, the auto industry has an unprecedented opportunity to make our roads much safer while giving drivers a less stressful and more productive commuting experience.

Today (January 5), I will present our vision of an autonomous and connected future at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You can watch it live here.

These technologies are critical to deal with a future in which the population is rapidly aging and the number of megacities of more than 10 million people is on the rise. Every day, more than 8,000 baby boomers turn 65 in the United States.

Autonomous-drive cars will help older drivers get around safely much further into their senior years. They also hold the potential to help ease urban congestion, improve traffic management, and make our roads far safer.

But what I believe will win over drivers – even those of us who love to drive – is the fact that autonomous drive and connectivity technology will give us back some time to use more productively. After all, nobody enjoys negotiating stop-and-go traffic on a clogged expressway.

The average driver spends two hours in the car each day commuting to and from work, school and other destinations. Imagine if you could get back this time to make yourself more productive by taking part in a video conference, checking your email or to just relax by watching a favorite entertainment program.

Many of today’s cars already are equipped with several building blocks for autonomous drive technologies, including lane-departure prevention, forward emergency braking, and improved safety sensors. With almost every automaker now developing these technologies, we are going to see advancements come in rapid succession.

It is important to make a distinction between autonomous drive features that will be introduced in the next few years, and fully autonomous, driverless cars, the mass marketing of which will come later.

At the Alliance, our strategy is to roll out autonomous-drive technology in four stages.

Stage 1 is autonomous drive on single lanes. We launched this stage in August with the introduction of ProPILOT technology for single-lane use on highways. It is being offered initially on the Nissan Serena family minivan in Japan and has been quite popular: Fully 60 percent of Serena customers have opted for it.

Stage 2 is autonomous drive for multilane highway driving with lane changes by 2018, and Stage 3 is autonomous city driving, which we expect by 2020.

The fourth stage is a completely driverless car – no one even needs to be inside it; the car drives itself with no need for human intervention.

Already there are small fleets of driverless taxis, or “robotaxis,” being tested in limited areas of a few cities around the world.

But the technology still needs to be perfected in the extreme conditions to which cars are sometimes exposed. In addition, regulators and lawmakers in many different jurisdictions will need to put in place the new laws and regulations necessary to permit the widespread use of driverless cars.

Of course, we recognize people will always want the choice to drive on their own. Our pursuit of this new technology isn’t about giving up driving – rather, we want to give consumers the choice to decide when, where, and for how long they want to drive.

But I can tell you this: Once you’ve experienced a car that drives itself, you will feel like you have stepped into the future.

Grubbs Infiniti #1 In The Nation

When the Grubbs family opened the doors to our new location next to DFW Airport, we wanted our customers to feel pampered and relaxed while buying a car.  George Grubbs III and George Grubbs Junior were absolutely meticulous in designing how the dealership would run on a daily basis and how it would “feel” to each customer.  They emphasized an unforgettable experience where people could relax, eat lunch or a snack in a fully catered kitchen, enjoy comfortable retreats to catch up with friends or get work done.  Unique, contemporary art is found everywhere throughout the dealership, complimenting the artistic lines and sleek INFINITI vehicles that take center stage.   

George Grubbs III credits much of the success to bold new vehicles from INFINITI.   “The Q60 delivers innovative performance and design that excites our customers.  This is luxury within your grasp.  You’re driving the kind of vehicle that inspires Formula 1 engineers.”  The QX60 was also a popular choice for a luxury SUV. 

“As our bestselling SUV, the INFINITI QX60 was designed with safety and versatility as its highest priorities. With safety features including Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Forward Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection available, the QX60 incorporates industry-leading safety technologies” said Randy Parker, VP, INFINITI of Americas.

This accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing support from INFINITI, our dedicated staff and our loyal customers who have trusted us with their business. 

“On behalf of everyone at Grubbs, I want to congratulate our team for what you do every single day including sales, service, body shop, administration, make-ready…everyone. We’re the number one INFINITI dealership in the nation for good reason,” said Wes Hays, General Manager.  “We tip our hats to our competitors because they gave us a good fight.  But when our team sets a goal, nothing can stop us.  We want to be the best at what we do and let every customer leave feeling like they just experienced the easiest, most relaxed way to buy a car.”

With the exceptional growth and sales in 2016, Grubbs INFINITI is poised to set even more records for 2017.  We’re proud of our #1 INFINITI Dealer in the USA designation!  More importantly, we’re committed to keeping it by providing an impeccable service, a vast selection and total transparency in what we do.

*Grubbs Infiniti is number one in new car sales for CY2016

For more information, visit  www.GrubbsInfiniti.com