Long an afterthought in the upscale car market, Infiniti is now determined to take on the luxury leaders and is preparing to roll out a wide assortment of new products over the next few years to win over buyers around the world. The Infiniti Q30 Concept debuting at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show offers a glimpse at what the maker might have in store.
The question is what, precisely, the Q30 is? The concept slots into a niche below the recently launched Infiniti Q50, that much is clear, but even the maker’s senior designer admitted, during the Q30 unveiling, that the vehicle “defies characterization.”
If it has to fit into any particular niche, the Infiniti Q30 would most readily be described as a crossover, though it has elements of coupe and hatchback in its DNA, said designer Alfonso Albaisa. Significantly, the Q30 will be the first new model to emerge from a young but fast-growing alliance between Infiniti parent Nissan Motor Co. and Germany’s Daimler AG, parent of Mercedes-Benz.
With a production version due out in 2015, the liquid copper-colored concept vehicle is “slim, sleek and flowing,” with a distinctive split grille, headlights Albaisa said resemble the human eye, strong shoulders and almost cat-like rear haunches. The cabin adopts a “horizontal dissymmetry,” he suggested, with separate zones for driver and front passenger.
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The look of the Infiniti Q30 concept will likely undergo some modest design tweaks before reappearing in Infiniti showrooms, but the basic design theme carries over elements of current Infiniti products, notably the “crescent cut” rear pillar first seen on what was originally known as the JX 7-seater.
If the overall look is designed to create a sense of athleticism, that’s no accident. In fact, the Q30 is the first Infiniti product strongly influenced by the maker’s new director of performance, the three-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel, who put in an appearance at the concept’s unveiling.
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The Q30 makes a very clear statement about our future entry into the expanding compact crossover segment,” declared Johan de Nysschen, Infiniti’s global boss.
Until recently, Infiniti seemed content to be little more than a niche player largely focused on the U.S. market. That has changed dramatically and it is now intent on becoming a true global tier one player. It was spun off into a separate entity by Nissan, given its own design and engineering operations, and its headquarters were moved from Japan to Hong Kong where it will be closer to China which is expected to soon become the world’s largest luxury car market.
Hired away from Audi to run the now operation, de Nysschen told his Frankfurt audience that, “We will attack all the modern premium luxury segments” in the coming years.
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And Infiniti will get some help with that goal from Daimler which developed the flexible compact vehicle architecture that both the Q30 and several new Mercedes models will be based upon. In fact, both the Q30 and the Mercedes GLA are expected to be assembled at a new factory Nissan will soon open in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
That project could be confirmed during the Frankfurt Motor Show during a joint news conference scheduled by both Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche.