At the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Infiniti will unveil the QX50 Concept, which previews the brand’s upcoming crossover that will compete against the likes of the Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3.

If it looks familiar, you’re probably thinking of Infiniti’s previous concept – the QX Sport Inspiration from last year’s Beijing Auto Show and Paris Motor Show. The company even describes the upcoming concept as an “evolution of the QX Sport Inspiration,” although this one appears closer to being a production-ready model.

The striking styling you see here is a radical departure from the current QX50 on sale, which has been around for several years, and is more in line with the current Infiniti design philosophy. Up front, the Infiniti grille is similar to that seen on the new Q60 Coupe, with sleek-looking headlamps to boot.

Other highlights include the large side intakes that merge with the low-mounted LED DRLs, as well as the front skid plate that is finished in a contrasting colour to the rest of the body. As you can tell, these cues are already available on the QX Sport Inspiration, but they have been reworked here.

Down the sides, the outlets just behind the front wheels have been omitted, along with the character line that emerged from it. Instead, the body now appears to be more flush with the wheel arches than before, although the separate line just below the beltline and kink near the C-pillar are all retained. The roofline does appear to be tweaked a little but continues to descend towards a steeply-raked rear window.

As for the rear, Infiniti has introduced additional elements beginning with “outlets” above the redesigned exhaust pipes (housed within the skid plate). The wraparound taillights are now two-piece units, with part of them being found on the tailgate, joined by a central chrome trim that provides some depth to them.

Under the bonnet, Infiniti has strongly hinted that its new variable compression ratio 2.0L VC-Turbo engine may make its way into the QX50 when it goes on sale, by saying “such an advanced powertrain would be perfectly suited to the packaging of the QX50 Concept.” The new mill uses a mechanical actuator arm that is connected to the piston’s conrods, allowing it to vary the length of the conrods – higher compression ratio is achieved with a longer length, and vice versa.

That’s not all as the QX50 Concept will preview the automaker’s rollout of its autonomous driving technologies, although it will be more of a driver-assist feature for now. Nissan already introduced its new ProPilot system on the new Serena MPV, and that technology should trickle down to Infiniti as well. The premium arm of Nissan adds that the tech is production ready and “will be developed further in future production models.”


GALLERY: Infiniti QX50