Infiniti’s global expansion plans hinge on two key products: the Infiniti Q30 premium compact and the Infiniti QX30, the Q30’s crossover variant. Along with an announcement about Infiniti’s new powertrain plant in Decherd, Tennessee, the company announced that the new Q30 and QX30 models will start production next year at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in the U.K.
The Infiniti Q30 first premiered as a concept at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show. This premium compact will be Infiniti’s entry level model, which presumably means it will compete with the likes of the Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. In fact, the Infiniti Q30, and likely the QX30, will ride on a Mercedes-developed platform used for the European-market A-Class, B-Class, and the aforementioned CLA-Class and its GLA-Class crossover sibling. The concept version of the Q30 was a hatchback, meaning that the production car likely will be as well. Previous rumors suggested that the QX30 crossover would be related to the Nissan Juke, but this seems less likely given the recent debut of the Juke-based Infiniti ESQ for the Chinese market.
The partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti also means that the Infiniti Q30 will almost certainly be powered by the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder designed by Mercedes and produced by Infiniti at the new Decherd powertrain plant. This engine is currently being made for the European- and Chinese-market versions of the Infiniti Q50 sedan, as well as the newly redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class that’s being produced in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Eventually the Tennessee plant will reach an annual capacity of 250,000 engines.
Both the Infiniti Q30 and QX30 will be important models for the brand, as these compact luxury cars will presumably be sold in all three of Infiniti’s key markets: the U.S., China, and Europe. Since production will start next year, expect the production versions of these vehicles to make their debuts during the 2014-2015 auto show season. Stay tuned for more news about these new Infiniti models over the coming months.