Infiniti: Continued Innovation From a Performance-Oriented Manufacturer

An interview with Adam Paterson—managing director of Infiniti Canada
February 25, 2018 Updated: February 25, 2018

Thursday February 15 was media day at the 2018 edition of the Canadian International AutoShow (CIAS) in Toronto, and on that day, within the North and South buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre there was a veritable “who’s who” of executives representing practically every major manufacturer in the automotive industry.

Adam Paterson, the managing director of Infiniti Canada, was in attendance, there, specifically to introduce the all-new Infiniti QX50 and QX80 crossovers/SUVs to a receptive crowd of industry personnel and media types from every conceivable outlet.

Infiniti has continued to polish their reputation of innovation through leading edge technology since arriving in Canada in 1990. The result? An enhanced experience for every owner and driver of Infiniti automobiles. As Mr. Paterson and his team state, “The continuing and growing success of Infiniti is embedded firmly in QDR. Quality. Durability. Reliability. Equally important components behind the brand’s performance-oriented DNA.

Sitting with Mr. Paterson that afternoon, we learned that, “Innovations—specifically technology has always been something which differentiates Infiniti from other brands competing for similar customers. For Infiniti, there is some tech in several of our products that would be considered class exclusive.”

With the introduction of the 2019 QX50, that expectation is repeated. In fact, Mr. Paterson states that the all-new QX50 is likely the most important vehicle Infiniti has ever conceived, engineered, and produced—ever. Given that the mid-size luxury SUV category is the fastest growing market segment in Canada, Infiniti announces their intent to stake their claim with this new model. “In 2017, this sector accounted for 33.9 percent of all luxury sales.”

The heart of this innovative, game-changing mid-size crossover is the vehicle’s power plant—the VC-Turbo. Some 20 years in the making, this is currently the only mass-produced engine in the world which actually modifies its compression ratio in real time. Consequently, Infiniti hails this four-cylinder engine as revolutionary. Further, it has the advantage of considerably reducing fuel consumption—without affecting overall performance.

The VC-Turbo, “Mr. Paterson states, “is the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine which actually transforms on demand.”

Infiniti engineers have created a breakthrough in combustion engine design. The compact 2.0-litre VC-Turbo engine actually and imperceptibly adjusts its compression ratio to optimize power and efficiency. “The VC-Turbo combines the power of a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with the torque and efficiency of a four-cylinder diesel engine! Mr. Paterson affirms.

With the new, full-size QX80 SUV, Infiniti is going for an understated “powerful elegance.”

The 2018 Infiniti QX80 has been built around three distinct principals: design; technology and comfort; and, finally, overall performance and enhanced road-handling and control. This large, luxurious, full-size truck is powered by a 5.6-litre V8 engine which makes 400 horsepower and 413 lb.-ft. of torque. Mated to a dynamic seven-speed automatic transmission, this auto may be a perfect all-purpose, multi-functional vehicle, capable of handling daily commuting, all manner of after-school activities or hauling your boat to the lake in the summer or your sleds to a northern cabin in the winter. A versatile transportation solution for the busy family.

As. Mr. Paterson says, “Infiniti is a brand known for innovation,” and this capable people-hauler is no exception. Infiniti engineers have levelled the playing field somewhat by creating a driving environment which belies the perceived stature of this current QX80. While large, featured technology includes Infiniti’s hydraulic body motion control. What this means is that the system monitors body roll as the seven-passenger SUV negotiates into a corner and adjusts the suspension so that the ride actually appears flat.

This engineering feature when coupled with rear auto-levelling suspension, means the vehicle is engineered to smooth out obvious lumps and bumps in most road surfaces and to adjust the suspension pressure to maintain the ride height of that trailer you’re easily pulling behind.

With the innovation of the VC-Turbo, “Infiniti eyes this as somewhat of a bridge to electrification. The investment behind this technology is large: we can probably assume, however, that this is not a one-vehicle powertrain. The VC-Turbo challenges and questions the very idea that only hybrid and diesel powertrains can deliver high torque and overall fuel efficiency.”

In other words: stay tuned.

David Taylor is an independent automotive lifestyle writer, producer, and editor based in Barrie, Ontario who is fascinated by innovation and technology which enhance the overall driving experience. He’s also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC) and is a Director of that organization’s Canadian Car of the Year Award. Follow him on Twitter @Omemeeozzie or on Instagram @hugoscaroftheweek.