Nissan has always had a strong presence in the annual Rebelle Rally, with the company having the distinction of being the only manufacturer to provide vehicles at the all women event. That of course, includes luxury division Infiniti who will be shipping its QXploration concept to the event to see how a model better known for being at home in mall parking lots will fare in rally racing (or perhaps going to that house in the middle of nowhere featured in Courage The Cowardly Dog.
The custom SUV already has a few accomplishments under its belt prior to this trip, including a rigorous trek through the challenging Gobi Desert in Mongolia. However, this will be the first time that the QXploration will throw its hat in the ring when it comes to tackling some of the wild terrain and obstacles that the American West region can throw at it. The QX80 is already a very stout pony out of the box, but the challenges of the Rebelle Rally forced the QX80 to shed the last vestiges of its shopping mall character to help cope with the unpredictable terrain. This included a 3-inch suspension lift, with the platform jam packed with off-road equipment.
A trick front and rear bumper was equipped to help the SUV cope with varying approach and departure angles, while thicker control arms help the suspension survive rogue chuckholes and the occasional piece of debris. A thicker skid plate provides better rock protection, while thick and meaty Nitto Terra Grappler all-terrain tires help the QXploration maintain commendable amounts of traction to help it stay on course. A digitally operated inflate and deflate system helps ensure that the tires are ready at all times, especially for rock crawling.) Infiniti partnered up with CALIMINI to upgrade the beats, and the luxury brand revealed that the QX80 used only needed minimal changes to make it ready for Rebelle.
The specially outfitted SUV will be piloted by two automotive journalists (and busy moms) Alice Chase and Nicole Wakelin (Team Wander Woman) through the course, which can rapidly change from sandy dunes to rutted tree lined trails at a moments notice. We have included the links to their respective Instagram profiles below if you want to follow along on their journey
But with all the changes that were made to the outside, it was still important to maintain some of the world class luxury that more mundane QX80s are known for. This includes equipping the rig with heated and cooled graphite leather seats, a Bose premium audio system, as well as Infiniti’s dual screen infotainment system. Infiniti was also quick to point out the standard tri-zone climate control system that comes standard on every QX80 model (including this one) which will be a welcome treat for the team in extreme weather.
“We are excited to welcome INFINITI in this year’s Rebelle Rally. As the ultimate proving ground for vehicles, we look forward to seeing the QX80 showcase its abilities through the course’s wide variety of terrain,” said Emily Miller, founder of the Rebelle Rally. “The entry is a testament to our motto, ‘the vehicle in your driveway is more capable than you realize.'”
“Our team training has been a world-class, collaborative effort. Early on we were fortunate to receive instruction and mentorship advice from a professional driver across the globe,” Chase said. “Perhaps the most touching preparation and training has come from previous Rebelle competitors who have reached out to offer support and insight into what helped them succeed.”
The 2020 Rebelle Rally is currently underway as we write this, and in addition to being able to check in on Nicole and Alice’s progress at the provided Instagram links, you can also see the Rally live as it happens here at this link
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.