When Infiniti launched the 2016 QX50, they invited a select handful of journalists into their new design centre. Located on the outskirts of San Diego, this centre is the first of its kind in the Americas, but the fourth worldwide. It will act in tandem with centres in Japan, London and Beijing to design models with a truly international flavour. Since today’s vehicles have to be competitive around the world, it’s important to take into account the specific preferences of different markets—which is exactly why Infiniti’s getting these studios to collaborate, and even compete against each other.
In fact, a lot of automakers have adopted the same tactic. In the initial phases of a vehicle’s development, the different studios go head-to-head in the race to produce the best design. Once the slickest mock-up has been selected, they work together to fine-tune the final product. It’s what you might call healthy competition!
We were included among those who got to check out Infiniti’s new design studio, which shares a facility with Nissan studios. As you can imagine, security is serious business here, and getting in is no simple task. We had to sign endless confidentiality agreements and lock up all devices with photo capabilities, including our phones.
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 is zeroing in on other sports coupes
Behind the closed doors of the studios, we were allowed to see the next iteration of Infiniti’s sub-compact SUV, the QX30, as well as the Q60 sports coupe, which will be officially unveiled at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. While we’re not allowed to say much about the new car, we can confirm some good news: it bears a striking resemblance to the recently introduced concept car. Sharing the same roots as the Q50 sedan, the car also incorporates some of the brand’s new style features. The nicest aspect by far, however, is the rear treatment.
The 2017 Q60 will challenge the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5, but its main rival promises to be the Lexus RC. And although it will definitely have a lot of cards stacked in its favour, one thing the Q60 will be missing is a beefed-up version to compete against the RC F and other similar speed machines. Matching high-performance models is something that Infiniti hasn’t kept up on. Granted, the more powerful versions aren’t huge sellers, but they add a lot to a line-up’s reputation. BMW has M, Mercedes-Benz has AMG and Lexus has its F models. So why hasn’t Infiniti stepped up its game with feistier versions?
One of the designers we met at a dinner event seemed to share this point of view. Nonetheless, Nissan is taking the bull by the horns and is currently working on a complete overhaul of its Infiniti models. And that’s a very good thing. Competition among luxury brands is fierce and style is ultimately the name of the game. Lexus jump-started its success with a similar move a few years ago, so let’s hope it works just as well for Infiniti.