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Infiniti takes a risk on bold design

The new QX30 design concept from Infiniti shows the company is willing to take risks in a market where boring wins the most sales.

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GENEVA -- The best-selling cars tend to have the most conservative design, because the buying public equates boring with safe when it comes to such a big investment. Infiniti looks willing to defy that logic by creating a new generation of cars with strong and unique design language.

Case in point: the QX30 compact SUV concept unveiled at the Geneva auto show.

The QX30 concept builds on another concept, the Q30 compact hatchback shown in 2013 at the Frankfurt auto show. Each car demonstrates new energy in the design department of a brand that rested on a few popular premium cars, such as the G37 , for too many years.

The very sculptured QX30 concept shows off a lot of swoopy lines. The side graphic in particular, the opening in the body where the side windows sit, ends in a very pointed C pillar. That rear pillar is like an arrow pointing forward, or a lightning stroke into the car. The bulb of the hood sits between two high ridges, and coupled with its face, the combination of grille mouth and headlight eyes looks saurian.

The top of the car features inexplicable blades running down either side and shadowing the roof. The cabin shows off diamond-pattern upholstery and thick brown leather on seats and steering wheel. The center stack holds what at first looks like a futuristic infotainment interface, but on closer inspection shows very conventional functions, with buttons and a center dial controlling typical audio features.

Infiniti QX30 concept
Kei Kue, the designer of the Infiniti QX30, shows up for its unveiling in Geneva. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

For this concept, Infiniti specifies LED headlights and a 2-liter four cylinder turbocharged engine. Linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission, the layout is rear-wheel-drive, with all-wheel-drive available. Infiniti also suggests the car could offer a variety of engines when it hits production, which likely means a diesel for European markets.

Concept cars often lose many of their esoteric lines before hitting production, but Infiniti promises a production version of the QX30 will be shown one year from now, at the next Geneva auto show. There is little room for change to the exterior in that amount of time, although the cabin will likely employ more conventional materials. Another suggestion that Infiniti is committed to bolder designs -- parent company Nissan brought out a very concept-looking Murano last year.

Read more of CNET's coverage from the 2015 Geneva auto show.