Infiniti will take on BMW and Mercedes-Benz with its own crossover coupe

2018 Infiniti QX80

There’s no accounting for taste. The main reason for buying a crossover instead of a normal car is supposed to be utility, but crossover coupes remove much of that utility. Yet they’ve proven extremely popular, so Infiniti is jumping on the bandwagon. During Monterey Car Week, Nissan’s luxury brand announced that it will launch a crossover coupe — dubbed QX55 — in summer 2020.

Crossover coupes are generally versions of existing utility vehicles with lower roof lines and other styling elements meant to make them look more attractive. Usually, the result is an otherwise unchanged crossover shape with a squashed roof, limiting headroom and cargo space. Despite the trade-off, these vehicles have proven popular with customers, with only the Acura ZDX turning out to be a sales dud so far. BMW and Mercedes-Benz now offer multiple crossover coupe models, and Porsche recently introduced a coupe version of its Cayenne.

While the BMW X6 was the first vehicle overtly marketed as a crossover coupe, Infiniti can stake a claim to beating the Bavarians to the punch by a couple of years. The original Infiniti FX wasn’t marketed as a coupe, but its curvaceous styling was a major departure from the norm. The FX was one of Infiniti’s few styling hits, but it didn’t have a lasting impact. Sometimes the sales pitch is more important than having the idea first.

Infiniti said the QX55 would borrow the low-slung roof line from the FX, but offered no other details on the new model. The name QX55 indicates that the coupe will slot between the current QX50 and QX60 in Infiniti’s lineup. If that is the case, the QX55 will likely be based on the QX50, similar to how BMW used the X3 as the basis for its X4, or how Mercedes offers both standard and coupe versions of its GLC. That would make the QX55 a direct competitor of the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC coupe.

If the QX55 is indeed based on the QX50, it will likely get the latter model’s trick VC Turbo 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. “VC” stands for “variable compression,” meaning the engine can change its compression ratio on the fly to emphasize power or fuel economy. Automakers have experimented with this technology for decades, but Infiniti was the first to put it into production. The VC Turbo engine subsequently migrated to Infiniti parent Nissan’s Altima sedan.

Infiniti has also said that it will offer a hybrid or all-electric powertrain in every model beginning in 2021, so even if the QX55 doesn’t get an electrified powertrain at launch, one will likely be added sometime during the model’s lifecycle.

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