The cabin of the Qs Inspiration has a distinct focus on driving enjoyment, engaging the driver with a physical and visual expression of power and performance. Where traditional sports sedans cocoon drivers in a tight, enclosed cockpit, surrounded by covered instruments, Qs Inspiration’s more spacious, open cabin – possible thanks to its electrified powertrain not intruding on cabin space – means designers have expressed performance in new and unconventional ways.
While the widescreen display on the dashboard and the center console touchscreen are each oriented slightly towards the driver, the structure of the instrument panel is more openly visible to other passengers. This effect is further enhanced by the ambient lighting system, which gradually emanates outwards along the dashboard, away from the steering wheel and around the front of the cabin.
Distinct colors and materials focus and engage the driver. The carpet is a soft grey throughout the car, but phases into a vivid vermillion, a shade called shu in Japanese, beneath the driver. The ‘hot seat’ is trimmed in white leather with bright shu piping, where the other three seats are finished in a more subdued palette.
The graphical user interface and lighting flood the cabin in shu red when the driver places the car in ‘Driving Mode’. The dashboard is finished in forged carbon fiber, giving an artistic, organic appearance to a material best known for its technical, high-performance connotations. This forged carbon fiber surface is embedded with glass fins, which light up red during the car’s start-up sequence.
The driving position further enhances a sense of engagement. The seat’s integrated head rest and supportive shape are inspired by the embracing seats of a race car. The small-diameter, rectangular steering wheel is aesthetically similar to that of the Prototype 10, with a three-dimensional structure leading away from the driver, giving the impression of the car rushing forward, like INFINITI’s ‘infinite road’ logo.
While visual emphasis is on the driver’s seat, just as much attention is given to the passenger space. Alfonso Albaisa explains: "For many premium car owners, rear-seat comfort is perhaps the single most important element of travel. Driver-focused though the cabin may be, the rear passenger space represents an invitation in its own right, an engaging space with INFINITI hospitality. The adoption of an electric powertrain has transformed what a sedan can offer, with flat battery packaging beneath the floor enabling the creation of a relaxing, lounge-like area."
The car is designed to invite passengers into the cabin and put them at ease for the journey ahead. The electrified architecture enables three passengers to enjoy greater space in which to relax than they would in a traditional sedan. Its totally flat floor and longer wheelbase contribute to greater legroom.
The rear-hinged doors project thin lines of light onto the floor, similar to the ‘kimono fold’ details in the head- and tail-lights. The lines swing outwards as the doors open, inviting passengers to step inside. The two rear seats rotate outwards by 15 degrees at the same time, making it easier to get in and out. Once seated, the two rear seats rotate back into the car – with a further eight degrees’ rotation available if the passengers wish to enjoy easier conversation.
A diffuser between the two rear seats periodically releases a scent into the cabin reminiscent the fragrance released by rain hitting summer grass after a spell of hot, sunny weather. Created in partnership with ‘@aroma’, the natural fragrance has been designed to further relax passengers.
In ‘Relax Mode’ (as opposed to ‘Driving Mode’), ambient lighting in the cabin shifts from shu red to ama-yo, a soft turquoise associated with relaxation in Japan.
At the heart of the cabin’s design is a focus on omotenashi, the Japanese approach to hospitality and welcoming guests. The overall design of the cabin is also inspired by a subtle Japanese sensuality. “Like the exterior, the cabin of the Qs Inspiration also draws on the design concept of ‘Ma’,” explains Habib. “The cabin is a relaxing, clean and concise space occupied by a few highly sculptural, artistic forms, such as the louvered ceiling, seats, and dashboard. The subdued color palette and carefully curated, handcrafted materials also add a degree of sensuality and composure.”
INFINITI’s Japanese DNA is reflected throughout the interior with a palette of restrained, relaxing colors. Its layout and forms are also reminiscent of Japanese interior design, with structural forms and a devotion to artistry and craftsmanship creating a truly inviting passenger cabin.
The three supportive passenger seats are finished in white leather and light grey cashmere, with the inside of the doors and carpet beneath each seat trimmed in soft grey. The seats themselves feature an artistic, more literal execution of the pattern found in some of the more technical exterior details – in this instance, panels of white leather are artfully folded over one another, like a carefully-folded kimono.
The headlining of the car is replaced by a unique timber structure, inspired by Japanese architecture, with louvers finished in sugi, Japanese cedar. The sun penetrating the cabin between the louvers cast moving shadows throughout the interior, creating pleasant diffused lighting for passengers. A final flourish, the passenger space also features a series of soft gold highlights inspired by kintsugi on the seats and doors for a further sense of Japanese design throughout the lounge-like cabin.