FRANKFURT -- Infiniti will add a version of its Q30 hatchback with a raised height in a bid to attract some of the increasing numbers of buyers choosing cars with SUV styling.
The Q30 will have two variants called the SE and Premium that are 59 inches tall, nearly an inch taller than the Sport version, Infiniti said today at an event here to unveil the brand's first compact car.
"The SE and Premium model are best suited to the varied and often inconsistent road surfaces found in urban environments," the brand said in a statement. The black wheel arch trims highlight the raised height, it added.
The Sport model has about a half inch lower ground clearance that Infiniti claims gives it a firmer ride and tighter, more dynamic body control. It’s differentiated from the taller versions by a remodeled front bumper.
Infiniti hopes to increase its appeal to younger buyers with the Q30 and it has given the Q30 a distinctive, polarizing design to help make it stand out from rivals such as the BMW 1 series and Audi A3.
The Q30 is based on Mercedes-Benz’s MFA front-wheel architecture that also underpins Mercedes’s compact cars including the GLA SUV and A class hatchback.
Infiniti confirmed that the Q30 will offer three Mercedes engines: a 1.6-liter gasoline with either 122hp or 156hp; a 211hp 2.0-liter gasoline; and a 211hp, 2.2-liter diesel. The 2.2-liter diesel version is available with all-wheel-drive. A smaller 109hp 1.5-liter diesel is supplied by Renault. Transmission choices are a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
The Q30's bold design is an attempt to differentiate the car from larger Infiniti models, the company said. “The Q30 is not the little brother or sister to siblings from larger segments,” Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti's head of design, said in the statement.
Albaisa said the car’s sculptural surfaces made it look like the sheet metal is “stretched over bone and muscle.”
Infiniti European head Francois Goupil De Bouille has previously criticized compact cars from German premium rivals for being too conservative in their looks.
The Q30's cabin has a significant amount of switchgear from the Mercedes A class including the heating and electric window controls while maintaining an individual look.
Infiniti said the car represents a step forward in cabin quietness compared to rivals. Its technology includes an active noise cancelling function that emits sound waves from the speakers in a bid to eradicate booming from the 2.2-liter diesel model. Sportier variants will offer a feature that Infiniti says smooths out variations in engine tone to give a more appealing sound.
Next year Infiniti will add a SUV/crossover version called the QX30.
Infiniti will build the Q30 and QX30 in Sunderland, England. The brand may add production for North America at Nissan-Daimler's new compact car factory that opens in Mexico in 2017, reports have said.
Nissan has installed annual production capacity of 60,000 units at its Sunderland plant for the Q30 and QX30. Half of the production will go to Europe with the rest exported to global markets including the U.S. and China. Infiniti is not expected to offer diesel versions in the U.S. and China.
The Q30 will go on sale in Europe toward the end of the year and will arrive in U.S. showrooms next spring with the QX30 crossover version due in the second half of 2016.
The Q30 and QX30 project expands the partnership between the Nissan-Renault alliance and Mercedes parent Daimler, which began in 2010 and now covers 13 joint projects.