Unless a clapped-out G35 is about to smack you in the ribs at a takeover, you probably don’t give Infiniti much thought these days. You might even be surprised to learn that the Infiniti logo was recently updated, along with a new signature sound and signature smell for the brand. It’s the fourth version of the logo since the marque’s launch in 1989, and while our curmudgeonly asses are pretty resistant to change for change’s sake, we think this logo actually makes sense.
The first three versions of the Infiniti mark are all rather similar. The “INFINITI” wordmark typeface underwent some slight changes for legibility, and the lines of the oval was fattened up, then thinned back out but generally kept the same shape. It’s supposed to represent a road stretching to infinity (har har) but was derisively called the “Zorro mask” when it debuted initially.
The latest iteration changes, for the first time, the shape of the road. Instead of the two lines converging on a point, they keep a tiny gap between them. This makes a lot more sense as the lines are supposed to represent the edges of the road. The gap maintains the illusion that there’s a road between those edges and makes it look less like a mountain peak.
Not only that, but the new logo has a three-dimensional component, where the center of the logo dives inward into the grille. As much as we liked the Q45 belt buckle, the old oval looked rather flat, both literally and figuratively. The new shape adds some depth and dynamism to the logo, like an old school art deco hood ornament of a charging animal or winged woman. We’ve seen a version of this idea on some Infiniti concept cars, and it looks good.
Additionally, Infiniti is leaning into its Japanese origins with a new dealership look. New architecture with a pagoda-esque roof and plenty of glass will perhaps recapture some of the glamour of auto showrooms from the 60s. Essential to the new look is the Japanese concept of ma. As Infiniti explains it, “Unlike the Western construct of minimalism, Ma embraces empty space in an additive capacity.” In other words, it uses the space between as an necessary part of the design, as in a rock garden.
But that’s not all. Dealerships will be infused with Infiniti’s new signature scent, which combines hinoki (Japanese cypress), sugi (Japanese cedar) and yuzu (Japanese citrus). Infiniti says it was “crafted by a master scent designer” if you can believe there is such a profession. Finally, the brand’s signature sound will now incorporate taiko drums and — as perhaps a throwback to the original Infiniti commercials that confused the public by showing only scenes of nature and no car — furin wind chimes.
While all this is fine and probably good for the brand it won’t amount to a hill of beans unless some excitement is injected in to the lineup. Phrases from the logo introduction such as “steadfast focus on the future” are downright comical considering how long most of Infiniti’s lineup have been around. Aside from a couple of newish crossovers, there’s been no movement on the stuff that was once exciting — the Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe, the Q70 luxury sedan, or the Patrol-based QX80 SUV. Oh, and that Q45 they keep showing in the video is pretty cool. Hopefully Infiniti’s creative minds are working just as hard on some new product as they are on the branding.