Alfonso Albaisa on Infiniti design

The Infiniti Q30 concept is an intriguing combination of coupé, hatch and crossover in a compact size. It’s been designed with Europe in mind and to help Nissan’s luxury arm establish itself amongst younger buyers who are predicted to make up 80% of global luxury sales by 2020. The confident design, with its sweeping roofline, reflects the marque’s unique approach to luxury cars. We caught up with Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti global design director, at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show to find out more.

Infiniti Q30 conceptDesign Talks: What was your intention with this concept car?

Alfonso Albaisa: This segment is quite new for us. We have shown concept cars in the past but the Q30 is quite believable. We wanted to see how we can capture the Infiniti feeling with its seductive pose and raised feeling. The feeling of the car is supposed to be elevated. This isn’t supposed to be a crossover or hatchback – something in-between.

DT: Where was the car designed?

AA: Its origins of the car was in California, then it spent some time in Japan, and the full-size clay model was made in the Paddington design studio, and it was built in Italy.

DT: How do you express your Japanese heritage and remain a global brand?

AA. Infiniti is a global brand even though its roots are in Japan. We speak of performance, precision, passion and provocation – all international attributes. The poetry with the double arch of the grille, where the top arch is the real one and the lower one is a reflection in the water, or the crescent cut that represents the last stage of the moon before it goes dark, are very Japanese in their DNA. Yet the execution makes its different.

We have every nationality in our studios so the crescent cut became much more powerful, more solid; the double arch grille is higher with an F1-raised nose position, and the sculpture is quite Latin, seductive and passionate. The line of Japanese DNA is not a linear one, but the main thing it must be super seductive – this is our unique selling point.

DT: There have been some interesting changes within the company lately with the appointment of Johan de Nysschen, former CEO of Audi of America, Simon Cox as design director and yourself returning from Nissan in the US. What are your plans for Infiniti?

AA: We have nine projects on the go now. The whole portfolio is being renewed and Johan, our new CEO, has been able to inspire the temperament. The Q30 concept is real looking, we were careful not to make this a concept car. The future is more sculptural, a lot more provocative. There are some very good luxury cars, ours will be much more sensual, provocative and seductive. We need to create noise. We are not like the other ones. We need to be some kind of black sheep.

DT: How does your involvement with Formula One impact on your work?

AA: Formula One is the highest level of racing. The inspiration comes not just from the speed but the passion of those engineers making these cars. It makes you feel there are no limits and no end to perfecting performance. [Racing driver] Sebastian Vettel is now part of our company, is involved with the tuning. It is the oxygen that makes you run faster.

Nargess Shahmanesh Banks

Read our previous interview with Alfonso Albaisa as he discusses the future of mobility and the zero-emission car.

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