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Infiniti pitches Q30 into SUV stoush

Hatching a plan: Despite having less ground clearance than a Mazda3, Infiniti calls its front-drive Q30 Sport a crossover.

New Infiniti Q30 to go up against ‘crossover’ competitors, not premium hatch rivals


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26 Aug 2016

INFINITI Cars Australia has sprung a surprise on the local market by pitching its new Q30 small car into the premium small-SUV category instead of the the high-end hatch segment.

It puts the Q30 up against the category-leading BMW X1, which has found 2498 homes so far in 2016, the Audi Q3 (2355) and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class (1980 sales).

The decisions is unexpected with most pundits expecting the Q30 to go up against premium hatches including the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and Volvo V40.

“Its size, its proportions and its ride height,” said Infiniti Cars Australia general manager of corporate communications Peter Fadeyev when asked what made the Q30 a crossover.

“The definition of crossover has spread and grown in all directions, and it’s going to spread even further in the future. It’s taking elements from other segments and bringing them together,” he added.

The car’s dimensions match millimetre for millimetre those of its sister car, the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

This moves the car into a category defined by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) that has a lower overall total of cars sold per year.

The overall small passenger car segment currently accounts for almost 20 per cent of new cars sold in Australia so far this year, whereas the small SUV segment accounts for under ten per cent.

Breaking down the premium segments, luxury small passenger cars make up just 1.6 per cent of overall sales, while premium small SUVs have a one per cent share so far this year.

Mr Fadeyev argued that the Q30 would not be readily recognisable as belonging to the small premium class, based on looks alone.

“Look at it from the other side. If we put this in the premium hatch segment, people will say ‘that’s not an A1, that’s not an A-Class.’ You’re half way between, which is a fabulous place to be, because it gives us a point of difference.

“We’re not in premium hatch the car does sit dimensionally in terms of a small SUV, which gives us a very important point of difference.

It’s not a ‘me too’ car you can tell that from the exterior design and from its ride height. I think the company’s been very clever to arrive at this solution, and it does give us some very clear space.”

Mr Fadeyev said that Infiniti’s research suggested that the Q30 was recognised as a crossover as well, while its pricing structure has been designed to expose the car to as wide an audience as possible.

“It’s not a premium hatch, but we’ve done our best to position this car’s pricing to be close to the premium hatch segment to talk to a much larger audience,” he said. “Dimensionally, it sits within the small crossover segment as a competitor to the rest of the small SUVS in the segment.”

The Q30 will be joined in September by the QX30, an all-wheel-drive derivative that will look like a more traditional small SUV.

“The QX30 is also a small crossover and they will sit in the same segment,” Mr Fadeyev confirmed “The main difference is that it’s all-wheel drive, sits 30mm higher, will have more equipment, have fewer powertrains, and is larger overall.”

The QX30 has been delayed at a production level, and will be launched in Australia along with the updated Q50 in September.

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