Infiniti QX30 Compact Crossover Concept Takes Geneva Stage
Production Version Due Next Year
Arriving a bit late to the premium compact crossover party, Infiniti showed off its QX30 Concept at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show today. We saw a preview of the concept not too long ago, and little seems to have changed in the interim.
Given Infiniti’s nomenclature where all SUVs and crossovers are badged QX, you’d be correct in assuming the QX30 is a lifted, toughed-up version of the Q30 hatchback concept of 2013. Indeed, the QX takes the Q’s sheetmetal from stem to stern, with only a few details altered. “The Q30 Concept was like a panther, lithe and slender. We transformed the QX30 Concept into a mountain lion, strong and muscular,” said Infiniti Executive Design Director Alfonso Albaisa. Even if you remove the public-relations hyperbole from that statement, you might see what he means.
For example, the front bumper features larger grille openings and metallic accents. The rear bumper is much the same, with reshaped exhaust outlets and a metallic “diffuser,” likely meant to pay homage to skid plates. Infiniti says the QX30 rides about 1 inch higher than the hatchback, giving it a surprisingly decent 7.6 inches of ground clearance. That’s certainly not Death Valley-grade height, but it’s enough for unplowed streets and your favorite campsite. Wider black trim along the wheel arches and rocker panels, larger wheels, and wider tires give the QX30 an almost rally car feel.
The QX30 looks like it will fit in very nicely with its Infiniti siblings, borrowing many of the company’s current design themes. The trapezoidal grille opening looks very nice on this compact canvas, and the “dual-wave” bodyside surfacing looks as good on the QX as it did on the Infiniti Essence concept. The falling upper and rising lower character lines call the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class to mind, but luckily, there are enough details to make the QX30 stand apart. This writer thinks the QX30 Concept has the potential to be the best looking vehicle in its intended competitive set.
One of our favorite styling features, and one that Infiniti will almost surely remove from the production car, is the design of the roof rack, which extends a fair bit over the panoramic roof. Yes, it obstructs the upward view through the glass, but it looks pretty cool from the outside. Infiniti also says it’ll provide a “curated view” of the world above, but again, that’s PR speak.
The concept is powered, in theory at least, by a direct-injected 2.0L turbocharged I-4, likely the unit Daimler developed for Infiniti. In the European-market Q50 sedan, the motor makes 211 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. That compares very favorably to the 138hp Buick Encore and 200hp Audi Q3, although the BMW X1 is substantially more powerful at 240 hp. The QX30 Concept routes that power to the ground through a seven-speed automatic. Interestingly, Infiniti says the crossover is "rear drive with all-wheel drive," making us think that it's a rear-biased system. That bodes well for the vehicle's on-road
Inside, the QX30 features very modern, Japanese styling. Purple accent lighting appears on the door panels, under the passenger airbag cover, and in the speaker grilles. The hue provides lighting for the dash instruments and center stack as well. Brown and navy blue leather is a strange combination that we hope gets toned down somewhat for production, but it’s very unique and interesting at least. Infiniti has always been a company that celebrates its national heritage, from its weird zen-garden commercials of the 1990s to the washi-paper inspired aluminum trim that adorned its sedans and coupes in the last decade. It’s good to see designers adhering to that nationalistic ethos with the concept’s interior, rather than trying to ape its Teutonic and American competition.
Speaking of which, it’s amazing how quickly the industry reacted to strong sales in the premium compact-crossover segment. When the first entry, the Buick Encore, came onto the scene, no one expected consumers to react so favorably. Now, just three model years later, retirees, DINKs, and young single urbanites are spoiled for choice, with the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and Mercedes GLA (and perhaps an upcoming Acura entry) joining the fray. Given those models’ near-immediate success, Infiniti must act quickly to avoid playing catchup.
Luckily, the QX30 is all but ready to go into production. Production of the Q30 hatchback will begin later this year, with the QX is earmarked for release next year, likely built alongside its sibling in England. With unique styling, an purple-accented interior that looks like it belongs at a modern onsen spa, and class-competitive performance from a range of gas and diesel engines (at least in Europe), the QX30 could be a legitimate player in the increasing field of compact crossovers.