We’ve been following what Infiniti has been up to in the past year. From the all-new Q50 sport sedan to an entirely re-imagined naming system, there is a lot going on. To get the latest on what the Japanese luxury brand is up to, we caught up with Kyle Bazemore, Senior Manager, Infiniti North American Product Communications. For a PR guy, he is refreshingly straightforward and flippant. Here is what he had to say:
BoldRide: The Q30 is a very unique car. Talk about the inspirations for the Q30 and what elements might make its way to a production vehicle:
Kyle Bazemore: Basically for that car it’s a design vision it’s a future vision for a future compacts for Infiniti. It might be a more compact car but on the interior it doesn’t – it defies categories – just because you have a smaller car doesn’t mean you have to have a smaller car. But this combines several different vehicles into one hatchback-coupe that rides high.
That car is very close to what a production car could look like. The design elements are Infiniti signature items that you can see on the actual car
Do you see the subcompact luxury market as the next big thing?
It’s certain that segment is forecast for significant growth. The segment is crucial for China and Europe. It’s just one part of the overall expansion of the Infiniti portfolio. We’re committed from next-gen version to current versions of everything we currently have but adding new cars at the top end of our line.
Lets talk about the Q50. It is a striking new car. What was the benchmark for this car? What cars did you target when designing this vehicle?
I don’t want to give you a PR bullshit answer, when our guys were looking at this category they had guns sight on a couple different German brands. It’s a little step above the G Sedan that it technically replaced. It’s enough of a step up that it kind of left room for the G to continue.
There is one feature that you have been promoting that piqued my interest. The ability for the Q50 to detect a crash two cars ahead. How does it do that?
For predictive forward collision, the radar system it looks at the car in front, but also the car in front of that. There’s a radar beam that bounces off the ground under the car in directly front and bounces up to the next vehicle ahead.
New other safety techs are expected. Once the sensors are there, it’s easy to broaden it out. In my non-engineer look, if you look at where we’ve progressed, we take away the tedious so that when traffic opens up, you can open up without stress.
What other tech can we expect?
Direct adaptive steering. It’s basically fly-by-wire. It is a system that brings some current advantages. It’s all electronic. Not connected by a steering column, and that has several advantages:
It’s much quicker response. It’s instantaneous. It’s fractions of seconds faster. You can tailor your driving experience. From track day feedback, to driving to the mall, etc.
It also has unlimited packaging options. You could put the steering wheel in the back seat if you wanted. It makes building a car for right and left hand drive vehicles easier.
One day it could save weight. Right now we do have redundant steering gear, in case there is a system failure or power loss.
So it has tech, and the impressions have been the performance holds up as well. Will wee see any super-high-performance variants, in the mold of an M3 or IS F?
We don’t talk about future product plans, but stay tuned. We’ve introduced a very viable sports sedan. But it is also a viable chassis for performance.
Lets talk about the new naming conventions? What motivated that change?
We did it for one very simple reason: because we are expanding the product line. When you expand the product line, you start going through the alphabet. All letters we’ve either trademarked it for current or for future products. Or someone else has trademarked it for now or for future.
Second, hierarchy of model line used to be based on engines. As we start looking into the future, that number might not be greater. Today’s M56 might be tomorrow’s M27 turbo, your friends might be slamming you for not having a “big number car” in the future we may not have gas engines at all.
A lot of luxury brands are lying to you; the number is not the displacement. So “Q” is the one letter we own that and based our naming on that. Numbers based on hierarchy in line, and pricing hierarchy – not engine, and not size. It’s going to be confusing for a while, but once we get through it, it will be better for the future.
This brand wants to grow, and we want to be a global premium player and our previous naming scheme did not allow it.
What’s next for Infiniti?
I think that you’ll see an exciting time for us. Based the design language from the 2009 Essence concept car, we have a unique look and unique technologies, you’ll see it as a more consistent brand across the globe. Much more balanced outside of US and Europe. Still a lot of people around the world who don’t know what an Infiniti is.
We are very disciplined right now we want to be more balanced with our sales. I think you’ll see some really unique products. The Q50 is a very brief look into the tech. You’ll see it continue with the Q30 and Halo vehicles in the coming years. Stay tuned.