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Geneva show: Infiniti QX30 Concept ‘90 per cent’ ready

Form a Q: Infiniti's QX30 high-riding hatch will take on the likes of the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and the Mercedes-Benz GLA, with which it shares underpinnings.

Near-final QX30 SUV concept previews production model set to launch in 2016

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Infiniti logo3 Mar 2015

By TIM ROBSON in GENEVA

INFINITI is continuing its new-model onslaught unabated, releasing its third near-production concept – the all-new QX30 premium compact SUV – in as many international motor shows.

Following on from the Q80 large sedan unveiled in Paris last September and the Q60 coupe shown in Detroit earlier this year, the X-branded crossover – based on the forthcoming Q30 small car – was unveiled on the eve of this week’s Geneva motor show opening ahead of an expected production debut in 2016.

Asked just how close the concept was to reality, Infiniti executive design director Alfonso Albaisa told GoAuto overnight: “It’s 90 per cent. And some aspects are dead on.

“Frankly speaking, this surface data (on the show concept) is already a ‘go’ on one model.” Like the Q30, which is due on sale in Australia early next year, the production QX30 will be based on Daimler’s MFA platform that underpins the Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatch, CLA-Class sedan and one of the QX30’s key rivals, the GLA-Class compact SUV.

It is also expected to be built alongside the Q30 in the UK.

Mr Albaisa said that skipping the step between flight of fantasy and real-world production vehicle was not too difficult.

“There is a very clear purpose to the brief (of creating a near-production concept car), so it can stifle your creativity a little,” he admitted. “But, on the other hand, our cars need to look like concept cars anyway. A lot of what we’re doing in the body sculpting is going into the production car.

“These (three cars) are coming, and I know people can’t wait.” Mr Albaisa told GoAuto that while the use of four design studios around the world necessitated a lot of digital rendering and imagery, the team still consulted on full-size clay models to execute the final shapes.

“We use digital a lot, and it’s the easiest way to communicate – but I don’t like photos, I need video or animation,” he said. “The car is kinetic. Even when it’s still, the world around it is moving, so I need to see it in motion.

“But we still love the touch of clay. The artistry of sculpting is still important.” Mr Albaisa made an interesting point about how car design is being challenged by the sometimes conflicting requirements of modern customers.

“The pressure is sizing, not so much safety. It’s more the downsizing of everything, where people are not,” he said.

“So the packaging around people and the expectation people have of comfort, power and everything else is the challenge.

“Still there’s a customer expectation of power, and they want the expression of lively behaviour. It’s not easy.” While Infiniti acknowledges the platform underpinning the QX30 is capable of using a “wide range” of powertrain options, the concept shown in Geneva is fitted with a 2.0-litre direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine, driving all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The concept rides on 21-inch rims and sports huge vented rotors front and rear, matched to forged callipers. The body is outfitted with a full-glass roof and stylised external mirrors that are unlikely to see final production – yet most of the design elements, including those through the rear quarter of the vehicle, are likely to stay for the final product.

The interior, too, is highly stylised, though the dash crash pad and instrument cowling-style binnacle are likely to make the transition to road car.

As well as competing against the Mercedes GLA-Class, the QX30 will rival the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.

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