This is the Infiniti Q30 concept, unveiled in full ahead of its official debut at the Frankfurt motor show on Tuesday.
The Q30 previews a crossover hatchback that Infiniti hopes will spearhead a significant sales breakthrough in the UK. The Q30 is based on the front-wheel-drive chassis that underpins that new Mercedes A-Class, but has a slightly raised ride height and more heavily-contoured styling.
Infiniti will manufacture the Q30 in Sunderland, and anticipates a global sales volume of around 50,000 cars per year from 2015, with significant exports to China and North America. The company says it is targeting younger buyers in particular, who are predicted to make up 80% of global luxury car buyers by 2020.
The Q30 will become Infiniti’s second-biggest seller behind the new Q50 saloon, of which the company currently builds around 65,000 per year.
‘The shape of the Infiniti Q30 concept deliberately challenges categorisation. It is not a coupe, not a hatch and not a crossover so that it will appeal to younger customers who desire to disrupt convention,’ said Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen.
The Q30 concept is said to be about 95% faithful to the 2015 production car on both exterior and interior design.
The styling is the work of a team led by Infiniti’s executive design director Alfonso Albaisa, who once headed Nissan’s European studio in Paddington, where the smash-hit Juke and Qashqai were designed.
Albaisa describes the Q30 as having ‘contours sculpted with fluidity’ and the side profile as having ‘artistry and and ambition.’
The Q30 has sharp-edged styling along the profile, which Infiniti’s designers say is achievable in pressed production sheet metal. The company’s manufacturing engineers in Japan are said to be working flat out to make them a reality. ‘The aim was to sculpt the panel surfaces as if they were hand-formed by craftsmen in an Italian coachbuilding workshop,’ added Albaisa.
The A3 comes in the sweeping roofline and hatchback proportions, while the Q3 is reflected in the raised ride height and slightly elevated driving position.
The Q30 is 168mm longer, 83mm wider and 50mm taller than an A3. The driver’s hip point is raised - and the overall height increased by 37mm - compared to the new Mercedes A-Class.
The fact that the hatch wears only a ‘Q’ badge from Infiniti’s new naming scheme indicates that the company considers it a hatchback, not a soft-roader. The latter would have been signified by a ‘QX’ model name.
The interior is also a break from tradition. Infiniti talks about ‘dissymmetry’, which its says ‘orients design features like air vents and instrument clusters for more sculpted visual appeal’.
To the more casual observer, the interior has obvious asymmetric shapes and features on the dashboard and detailing.
Infiniti promises that the Q30 concept’s high quality and well-finished interior will go into production ‘very closely’ to the design study.
The production car is not expected to be revealed for at least another year, with the 2014 Los Angeles motor show a likely location for its global debut.
By Julian Rendell