Infiniti Unveils New 'Prototype' Concept at Pebble Beach

infiniti unveils new 8216 prototype concept at pebble beach

Last summer, Infiniti revealed an open-wheeled racer that merged the sex appeal of yesteryear with the electric powertrain of tomorrow. It was called the the Prototype 9 and it was stunningly beautiful. This summer, the brand attempted to repeat that success with the Prototype 10.

While the vintage maxim of “lightning never strikes the same place twice” isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s applicable here. Unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Prototype 10 is a rehash. It’s another reimagining of mid-century racing, bestowed with an electric motor and some modern flair.

It’s an incredibly handsome automobile, but unnecessary, as it’s representative of absolutely nothing. Infiniti isn’t planning on building single-seat race cars and doesn’t appear prepared to jump into the mass assembly of high-performance EVs. This has been a problem with Infiniti for a while now. The company embraces forward-looking and completely fantastical concept vehicles at the expense of something that might enter into production within a few years. Ultimately, it feels like a wasted effort.

Before everyone points a finger our way and shouts that we’re engaging in hypocrisy for liking the Prototype 9 so much, allow us an opportunity to defend ourselves. Infiniti went to a lot of effort to explain the concept behind the car. While it may have only used the motor from the Nissan Leaf, it was ludicrously lightweight and appeared to have some seriously committed folks behind it. Infiniti hammered body panels into shape for hours and Infiniti made us believe it was a passion project for its staff. They wanted to do a garage build that merged old school-charm with new-school hardware. It wasn’t going to become a production model, but it at least felt authentic and showcased an overwhelming enthusiasm coming from the brand.

In addition to being too similar in concept, this is what the Prototype 10 lacks. Infiniti hasn’t even specified what would power the model. All we know is that, assuming something actually lurks beneath the sheetmetal, it doesn’t use liquid fuel. According to the automaker, the car previews the company’s electric car intentions as well as future design and styling cues. But where is one supposed to look for that?

While the overall shape is hugely pleasant, there are barely any details to draw from. Head and tail lamps are razor-thin slits, there’s no grille, and the only patterning that is transferable to a production car are the vertical slats appearing behind the driver’s seat (as electric motor cooling ducts). Unless these make their way to the front of subsequent vehicles — or they adopt the Prototype 10’s pointed nose, concave door panels, and rounded tail — there’s really nothing to see here.

The Q Inspiration Concept, unveiled in January, does have a few overlapping design elements. But Infiniti already confirmed it won’t ever see production. Instead, a new electrified vehicle platform “inspired by” it will launch sometime within the next five years.

After so many concept vehicles that seem incapable of gracing an assembly line, we’re left wondering if Infiniti’s design team is simply looking too far ahead, or if it has become bankrupt of executable ideas. We like a fantasy car just as much as the next enthusiast, but the Prototype 10, despite its attractive exterior, is redundant and wildly unrealistic.

If the brand has an electrified rework of a Porsche 962 or some other vintage racer in mind for the Prototype 11, we urge them to stop now. We don’t need another concept like this for a while.

You’ve done some beautiful work here, Infiniti. But it’s time to move on to something else.

[Images: Infiniti]

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  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Aug 24, 2018

    That's more than enough intake real estate for a turbocharged Cosworth DFV in the back - slightly offset to balance out the driver. If wishes were horses, etc.

  • Thornmark Thornmark on Aug 25, 2018

    Nissan does fugly. Is that news.

  • SCE to AUX It's not really a total re-badge since some of the body parts are unique, and the interiors are quite different.As I mentioned the other day, the Tonale has a terrible name and a dim future.As for the Alfa team - guess what, this is how corporate ownership works. You are part of Stellantis partly because you're not viable as a standalone business, and then your overlords decide what's shared among the products.By the way: That Uconnect infotainment system found in Alfas was originally a Chrysler product... you're welcome.
  • Kurkosdr Someone should tell the Alfa Romeo people that they are a badge owned by a French company now.The main reason PSA bought FiatChrysler is that PSA has the technology to enter the luxury market but customers don't want a French luxury car for psychological/mindshare reasons. FiatChrysler has the opposite problem: they have lots of still-respected brands but not always the technology to make good cars. Not to say that if FCA has a good platform, it won't be used in a PSA car.In other words, if those Alfa Romeo buds think that they will remain a silo with their own bespoke platforms and exclusive sheet metal, they are in for a shock. This is just the start.
  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
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