Infiniti readies dramatic premium hatchback

Infiniti embraces the small-car trend, showing off the Q30 concept at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, a model sure to come into production and compete with the Lexus CT200h.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

Adding substance to its previously released teaser sketch for the Q30 concept, Infiniti released a full photo of the car that will debut at the upcoming Frankfurt auto show, but no specifications.

The Q30 concept in the photo looks remarkably similar to the earlier sketch, and is likely very representative of an actual production model. One clue is the Q30 name, which fits Infiniti's new naming scheme and puts this vehicle in below the Q60, the new name for the EX small SUV.

The photo shows a concept car bearing much of Infiniti's current design language, including a grille slightly pinched across its lateral axis and a hood rising above the line of the fenders. However, the concept shows Infiniti's design language enhanced, especially with the angled-in kick an the C-pillar and heavy contours down the sides.

The wheels look larger than they might be on a production car, and the hidden door handles could prove an ergonomic issue.

Although the dimensions of the Q30 concept are not clear from the photo, the naming designation suggests a hatchback-size vehicle that would compete with the Lexus CT200h, Audi A3, BMW X1, and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA-class.

Infiniti also points out that the Q30 is the first of its new models engineered under the supervision of F1 driver Sebastian Vettel, who moonlights as Infiniti's Director of Performance. Vettel's involvement could mean a premium hot hatch, although front-wheel-drive architecture would be likely.

The big question on the Q30 will be drivetrain. Infiniti's current US lineup lacks a four-cylinder engine, but it seems unlikely the Q30 would get Infiniti's 3.7-liter V-6. An intriguing drivetrain choice from parent company Nissan's line-up would be the direct injection, turbocharged 2-liter four cylinder used in the Juke, itself a compact SUV.

CNET will be on hand to see the Q30 concept at the Frankfurt auto show, but even then, our questions about specifications may not be answered until Infiniti announces a production version.