Following the ground-breaking Prototype 9 concept first revealed at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Infiniti has “looked back to go forward” with the Prototype 10. A future vision realized by Infiniti designers, Prototype 10 evokes the spirit of early Californian speedsters, and is informed by some of the most iconic car designs of all time. The new concept is resolutely forward-looking in terms of its aesthetics and is a natural evolution of the form language first seen in the Infiniti Q Inspiration and Prototype 9. The monoposto (single-seat) cockpit is consistent with Infiniti’s driver-focused approach, and is indicative of the new opportunities created for Infiniti by adopting electrified powertrains and flexible vehicle platforms. In creating the Prototype 10, Infiniti has re-imagined the classic speedster with a cool, clean, forward-looking design. Inspired by the potential for electrification, Infiniti’s new concept seeks to demonstrate the daring spirit of performance that will inform the brand’s production vehicles in the future.
The unveiling at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is no accident. California has an automotive culture all of its own, with a rich vein of individual expression empowering car fans and gearheads alike to create their own unique, hand-built machines. This instinct for challenging accepted automotive norms – aided by the ever-temperate weather – meant California was destined to become the spiritual home of the high-performance speedster. A similar passion for expression has driven Infiniti’s designers in creating the Prototype 10, a physical manifestation of the brand’s vision for vehicle electrification.
A carefully crafted evolution of the design language first shown with the Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept in 2018, the Prototype 10 is resolutely forward-looking in terms of its aesthetics. Like the Q Inspiration Concept, the new design study proposes how the function of an advanced, electrified powertrain could be communicated in a stunning new form. While it retains the clean, uninterrupted surfaces of the Q Inspiration Concept – an elongated, coupé-like sedan – the Prototype 10 telegraphs the performance benefits of electric powertrains with a more purposeful speedster configuration.
The concept’s design is characterized by clear, concise lines, and confident proportions, without the body volume of the Q Inspiration Concept. With a pared-back, more geometric form, the bodywork incorporates a series of austere, straight lines, particularly evident in the 90-degree relationship between the bodywork and the fin behind the driver’s head. Ultra-modern shapes, and clean, abrupt lines, punctuate a design that would otherwise be characterized by the flowing nature of its bodywork.
In seeking to understand the way Infiniti’s vehicles will look in future, every element of the Prototype 10’s design links to the notion of electrification. As with the Q Inspiration Concept, the concept’s clean, uninterrupted surfaces serve as a reference to the power source that provides an uninterrupted flow of electric propulsion.
The most obvious representation of the car’s performance is its low speedster layout and confident proportions, with its long bonnet and open cockpit contrasted by a dramatic fin behind the driver’s seat.
Where the Prototype 10’s unbroken, skyward-facing surfaces reflect the uninterrupted nature of electric motor power delivery, the bodywork itself is punctuated by geometric lines. These lines reference the shock of sudden acceleration enabled by a powertrain which can instantly deliver 100% of available torque with a push of the accelerator pedal. Straight lines give added definition to the grilles at the front of the car, and the side strakes which plunge into the rear wheel arches. The cooling ducts in the open-air cockpit – one behind the driver, one in place of a passenger seat – are also characterized by their sharp geometry, with their very structure appearing to take the form of an electrical pulse. The upright fin behind the driver’s head carves into the rear deck of the car, with razor-sharp forms also evident in the design of the triangular rear light.
The front of the car features a prominent Infiniti badge pressed deep into the bodywork, with distinct creases running over the front fenders and up the center of the hood. Slashes at the base of the hood house ultra-thin headlights, as sharp in their appearance as the power delivery is direct. Contrasting the silver bodywork, a black chin spoiler at the base of the bumper is designed to enhance downforce at the front, and channel airflow beneath the completely flat underfloor of the vehicle.
Unbroken lines and smooth body surfaces flow rearwards, culminating in a tapered rear deck, similar to that of the earlier Q Inspiration Concept. Once again, the performance spirit is present in the subtle rear diffuser, which channels air out from beneath the car and provides an efficient aerodynamic profile as the car carves near-silently through the air at higher speeds.
The cockpit echoes the design philosophy of the exterior, with clean, flowing surfaces bisected by geometric lines. The hood flows seamlessly into the open-air cabin, drawing attention to the driver’s seat and the large electric motor cooling ducts. The speedster layout encouraged Infiniti’s designers to create a monoposto cockpit, with attention focused solely on the driver. Fully visible from outside the car, the pure, minimalist cockpit captures the essence of Infiniti’s driver-focused approach. Where cabins in Infiniti production vehicles are designed to be “driver-focused and passenger minded,” the sole purpose of Prototype 10 is to deliver a thrilling driving experience. In place of a passenger seat, therefore, a large vent lets air flow into the rear of the car to cool the electric motor and batteries.
Prototype 10’s cockpit design is inspired by single-seat formula race cars – placing the driver fully in- control with an unhindered view of the road ahead, with ready access to ergonomic controls, and with minimal distraction. Communicating the notion of electrification and performance, Prototype 10’s uncluttered cockpit is fitted only with a driver’s seat, four-point harness, brake and accelerator pedals, and a striking, highly technical race-inspired steering wheel.
The steering wheel is the most visually-arresting element of the cabin, mounted on lightweight carbon fiber struts that extrude out of the bodywork. There is no need for an intrusive steering column due to the presence of Infiniti’s steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering, providing lightning-fast responses to steering inputs. The shape of the struts holding the wheel in place is echoed in the form of the steeply- raked wind guard, deflecting air over and around the driver’s head and into the cooling ducts. The small-diameter wheel itself adheres to motorsport principles, with a flat lower section and distinct grips for the driver’s hands – with no gears to change, an electrified powertrain means fewer physical distractions. Like the Infiniti “infinite road” logo, the center of the wheel extends away from the driver, leading into a compact instrument display.
The single seat is trimmed in black leather, with red stitching matching the center of the wheel. Extended side and hip bolsters provide a snug fit and maximum possible lateral support. The seat is mounted as low in the cockpit as possible to help lower the overall center of gravity, with only the driver’s head visible above the bodywork – it is for this reason that Infiniti designers dubbed this aspect of Prototype 10 ‘The Bathtub’ during its creation.