Infiniti bets on small-car luxury with stylish Q30 model

Infiniti launches its all-new Q30 hatchback at the Frankfurt auto show, betting that upscale urban dwellers want small cars boasting the same high-end features as big, luxury sedans.

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
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FRANKFURT -- With its all-new Q30 compact hatchback introduced at the Frankfurt auto show, Infiniti targets an urban buyer seeking a small, but well-equipped car. The Q30 exhibits strong styling elements and high-tech features in a comfortably maneuverable size.

In the US however, the Q30 will need to conquer buyers' notorious aversion to hatchbacks.

The Q30 expresses organic styling with strongly curved lines down the sides, a large grille connected to the headlight casings, and bulbous ridges topping the front fenders. A strong kink in the rear pillar emphasizes forward motion. With four doors and a hatchback, the Q30 offers practical interior space, flexible for passengers and cargo.

European versions of the Q30 will be offered with a variety of small gasoline and diesel engines, but the US model will be restricted to a turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine making 208 horsepower. Instead of a conventional automatic transmission, Infiniti will offer a seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

Infiniti Q30: Striking design for compact luxury (pictures)

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Along with its small size, fuel economy will likely be a selling point for the Q30.

Bolstering its luxury credentials, the Infiniti offers three designer trim combinations for the cabin ranging from ultramodern to a more classic look. Active noise canceling through the speaker system should mute engine noise for passengers, leading to a more serene experience in the cabin.

High-tech selling points include driver-assist features such as a surround view camera system, automated parking and adaptive cruise control, which slows the car automatically for slower traffic ahead.

The US engine will give the Q30 satisfying power, and its unique design will be a lure for some buyers. Pricing has not yet been announced, but it will likely compete with Audi and Lexus smaller cars, which have base prices around $30,000.