The primary definition of the noun monograph is the study of a singular subject or an aspect of it by a scholar. Infiniti’s design scholars at its Atsugi, Japan, studio have been busy studying a singular subject of their own, in this case a vision of what brand’s largest SUV could look like in the future. The fruit of their scholarly pursuit is the Infiniti QX80 Monograph concept Infiniti officially revealed on the eve of the 2017 New York International Auto Show.
While there has been a proliferation of crossovers with three row capability in recent years (including its own QX60), Infiniti’s QX80 is one of the only true full-size, three-row luxury SUVs on the market. With the QX80 Monograph, the brand is sending a pretty clear signal that it intends to produce a next-generation model that will be much more expressive in appearance. It will also apparently be a little less of a monolith: at roughly 197 inches the Monograph is more than 11 inches shorter than the present QX80, though at about 79 inches tall it’s about three inches higher (if you don’t count the roof rails).
As far as design exercises go, the QX80 Monograph, which is sprayed in Infiniti’s frosted-look satin finish, is sort of a reverse mullet: most of the party’s up front. It sports a powerful, aggressive (and busy) face, highlighted by a taller and wider version of the brand’s double-arched grille with an abstract mesh look. A new take on Infiniti’s so-called “human eye” headlamps are punctuated by LED piano key elements (they look more like eyelashes to us). They’re topped by razor-thin light banks that extend well into the front fenders, terminating at trick, fender-mounted side view cameras that retract when not in use (the vehicle’s door handles retract as well). Given its larger grille, the headlights seem a bit pinched, but they definitely add to the more aggressive (if squinty) feel.
More defined character lines, particularly the shoulder line that starts at the grille and extends the length of the vehicle, make the QX80 Monograph appear longer than it actually is. Framing the lower part of the front fascia is a slotted, double chin bumper of sorts as well as vents on each end. It’s trimmed with a horizontal aluminum piece and thin LED fog lamps. Rounding out the lower portion of the front end is an aluminum skid plate that lends the vehicle a more rugged appearance.
The present QX80 is powered by a 5.6-liter V-8 with 400 horsepower. While Infiniti is predictably mum on the Monograph’s powertrain details, we wouldn’t be shocked if the next generation QX80 came with a version of the brand’s 3.0-liter twin turbo V-6 under its massive hood, which on the Monograph is punctuated by sharp creases that help frame the grille.
The most striking aspect of the QX80 Monograph to us is its slick greenhouse, featuring A-pillars that sit flush with the side windows in an effort to reduce drag and wind noise. Combined with its blacked-out B and C-pillars, it gives the SUV an impressive pillar-less look punctuated by a D-pillar that cuts a crescent shape into the back quarter. It’s a more dramatic theme befitting the brand’s bold, futuristic approach.
It wouldn’t be a concept without a set of galactically huge wheels, and the eight spoke 24-inch rims, finished in chromium black with brushed copper accents, more than fit the bill. Additionally, the outer edges of the rims overlap the low profile tires in a way that lend it more of a 26-inch appearance. (The present QX80 comes with 20-inch wheels standard, with 22-inchers optional.) Rounding out the profile view are fender bulges front and rear, a hockey stick style element punctuated by a stroked version of Infiniti’s signature fender vent, and a lower chrome sill piece that’s part of a motorized step-up feature.
The shape of the rear isn’t much changed from the QX80, but there are several subtle elements that lend it a more of an elegant and streamlined posterior—even if it’s only an illusion. Sharper, thinner taillights are similar to the headlights in appearance and are connected by a chrome piece. The Monograph’s dual, rectangular exhaust ports frame a gloss black airfoil designed to improve aerodynamics, the same goes for the spoiler at the top rear of the vehicle. Further aiding overall airflow are outlets aft of the front and rear wheels and an underbody piece that’s also designed to protect the vehicle. More defined horizontal lines in the bumper and a chrome piece that tops the exhaust ports lend it a leaner, wider stance.
It all adds up to a look that Infiniti’s head of design Alfonso Albaisa calls “part Rodin’s Thinker, part Michelangelo.” While we don’t expect the QX80 Monograph to be ever hanging up in the Louvre, and we find a few of its details a bit overwrought, it’s certainly a more expressive design than the present vehicle. We’ll be interested to see how much carries over to the next QX80.