Infiniti QX30 Concept: Seductive ruggedness

2015-infiniti-q60-coupeSpontaneous and fluid, the QX30 Concept is Infiniti’s design idea of a premium compact crossover that not only effortlessly handles anything the city or weather throws at it, but does it with style and panache. The sloping coupe lines have been beefed up with robust facets to give the four-door concept an air of being ready to explore its neighborhood and beyond. The high ground clearance at 192 mm (7.6 inches) gives the driver an elevated view of the surroundings and confidence to go through potholes or uneven terrain.

Standing at 4,430 mm (174.3 inches) long, 1,815 mm (71.4 inches) wide and 1,520 mm (59.9 inches) high, the Infiniti QX30 Concept is a progressive interpretation of a premium compact crossover for the future. “We wanted the spontaneous fluidity of the QX30 Concept design to cut through the urban clutter and rigidity, reflecting its go-anywhere and spur-of-the-moment nature,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti Executive Design Director. “With its higher stance and edgier design to match its tough capabilities, you can almost visualize how the QX30 Concept floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.”

The QX30 Concept is Infiniti’s next step in extending the brand into the global compact premium segment, following the 2013 debut of the Q30 Concept in Frankfurt. Both vehicles are in the same family, with the QX30 Concept about 30 mm higher than the Q30 Concept.

“The Q30 Concept was like a panther, lithe and slender. We transformed the QX30 Concept into a mountain lion, strong and muscular,” said Albaisa. “The QX30 Concept design conveys a gritty sense of durability but tough doesn’t mean rough. We’ve retained a sense of artistry throughout, even in the most functional of parts.”

At first glance, the signature Infiniti face is unmistakable, with the meshed motif of the double arch grille framed by the accusing stare characteristic of the Infiniti headlamps. The satin chrome of the bumper lower immediately conveys the reassurance that comes from a big protective plate. The designers dropped the bumper lower and enlarged the side openings, giving the impression that the grille hangs lower. The flaring air intakes visually intersect with the lower part of the grille, playing up the contrast between the grille and the fluid lines of the airfoil.

“You get this sense of heavy breathing from the car, as though the car is a well-honed athlete performing at a high level,” explained Albaisa. The theme of stylish protection runs throughout the entire car, from the matte carbon trim that outlines the lower profile to the milled sword-like metal insert in the kick plates under the doors.

The QX30 Concept’s sleek exterior shape is composed of bold sections, deep uppercuts and intersections to create Infiniti’s hallmark “dual wave” effect. The aerodynamic design accentuates its athletic silhouette, showcasing its confident capability. Carbon fibre in the lower cladding and roof bar supports add to the car’s lightweight performance character. In the rear, the designers have sculpted nuanced graphics into what would be a run-of-the-mill skid plate, reinforcing the sense of contemporary fortification. The QX30 Concept is meant to awaken one’s sense of adventure and Infiniti designers achieved this by giving the crossover a sure-footed stance. Taking a wheel-oriented approach, they physically increased the ratio of tire to the body by using 21-inch wheels and tires. They also increased the blackout around the wheel opening for a rock solid look.

Juxtaposing black carbon and aluminum that echoes the body colour, the designers came up with a unique two-tone design for the wheel. The spokes are a mix of three-dimensional milled aluminum-alloy and matte rubber material, interlocking and twisting in and out in a distinctive manner. On the surface, the spokes give the illusion of thick metal. But up close, they are aesthetically lightweight, thanks to the three-dimensional milling that allows the spokes to be undercut into thin surfaces.

“Playing the fluidity of the hard material against the rubber feeling of the soft material was key to how we used expected materials in an unexpected way,” said Albaisa. “It is the unconventional execution of a conventional element that makes the QX30 Concept a style leader.”