Nissan’s upscale Infiniti brand unveiled a tall-ish compact hatchback design study at the Frankfurt auto show Tuesday; the company says the Q30 Concept previews an entry-level model set to go into production in 2015, to be built in its plant in Sunderland, England.
Destined to compete with vehicles such as Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the Lexus CT200h hybrid hatchback, Infiniti says the Q30 will combine the appealing aspects of three different body styles: coupe, hatchback and crossover. The hatchback part seems obvious, while the taller body gives it a crossover-like stance, but it seems fairly obviously that this is not a crossover – Infiniti’s new naming structure that’s coming this fall gives this away as a car (Q prefix) and not a crossover or SUV (QX).
It’s the coupe aspect that’s most intriguing, since Infiniti said the concept offers the “dynamic design and sportiness of a coupe,” but as of press time had not announced power figures nor details of its drivetrain. So the coupe aspect suggests dynamic performance will be a key feature of the production Q30, unless it shows up to market offering a Hyundai Veloster-like single driver’s door and dual right-side doors – not out of the realm of possibility, given Infiniti’s emphasis on the concept’s key theme of design dissymmetry, though early concept sketches suggest a more common five-door layout.
Speaking of entry-level Infiniti models, the company also announced recently that it will continue to offer the G37 sedan in the United States alongside the newly released Q50, but at a lower price as a more affordable gateway to the brand.
Both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive G37 four-doors will continue to be offered, at prices about $5,000 (U.S.) less than 2013 MSRPs.
A Nissan Canada official said early this week it hasn’t yet decided whether Infiniti will follow the same path in Canada, not specifying whether its plans may differ on still offering the G37 sedan, or the amount of the price cut.
Small Mercedes GLA crossover to offer FWD
In terms of cold, hard sales on this continent and in this country in particular, the Mercedes-Benz GLA small crossover was likely the most significant vehicle to debut this week at the Frankfurt motor show. It was far from the flashiest vehicle introduced, especially since the company had already released a full spectrum of images and information about the upcoming baby Benz crossover.
As its name implies, it is based on a similar architecture to the CLA four-door “coupe,” and slots beneath the boxy GLK in size and price. It will become the first Mercedes-Benz crossover/SUV to come with front-wheel drive, for those who don’t opt for the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Benz calls the GLA a compact SUV, which is funny, because that’s what they called the GLK up until now, and perhaps even still.
Mercedes-Benz says the GLA will be among the most aerodynamic of any crossover, with a co-efficient of drag of 0.29 and a relatively small frontal area for an SUV. That should provide benefits in fuel efficiency and low noise levels.
A similar drivetrain to the turbocharged four in the CLA 250 will lie under the GLA 250’s hood, while the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic can send all power to either axle, in 4Matic models, or just the front. That all-wheel-traction may help prevent the use of its other varied collision prevention safety systems, such as the useful blind spot assist and somewhat-less-so lane keeping assist.
The GLA is scheduled to arrive in Europe by the end of this year, and in North America by next fall, to go up against vehicles such as the Buick Encore, BMW X1 and upcoming Audi Q3.
Jaguar shows C-X17 ‘concept’ crossover
Jaguar confirmed this week with the unveiling of the C-X17 crossover concept that it plans to use a similar aluminum-bodied architecture on a new more mainstream luxury Jaguar sedan coming to Europe by 2015, and a year later to North America.
The new lightweight architecture will then be used on a range of new Jaguars, said the company, which will help make them lighter, stiffer and more environmentally sensitive, being the first aluminum-bodied vehicles in those classes. The mid-size sedan would finally give Jaguar a product with which to challenge entry-luxury mainstay sedans such as the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, though the firm may position the car as slightly larger than those cars to also nibble on the sales of the 5-Series and E-Class models.
Jaguar announced at a preview event in Frankfurt just prior to the C-X17’s show unveiling on Tuesday that a new line of gasoline and diesel engines for this new aluminum range of vehicles would provide some models with serious dynamic performance, including a top speed of more than 300 km/h, and others with serious performance at the pump, with CO2 emissions of less than 100 grams/kilometre. Emissions that low suggest it will receive the diesel-hybrid system previously announced for some European Range Rover models, or some variation of it, though that diesel-hybrid engine has not yet been confirmed for North America.