Infiniti’s London Design Studio aims to put romance back into premium motoring

2014 Automobile Journalists’ Association of Canada (AJAC) awards—(L-R) Wendy Durward, director Infiniti Canada; Christian Meunier, president Nissan Canada; and Tim Franklin, senior manager product planning Infiniti Canada with Infiniti's 2014 Q50 sports sedan—winner Best New Luxury Car (over $50k), Best New Innovation Technology and Best New Safety Technology awards.

2014 Automobile Journalists’ Association of Canada (AJAC) awards—(L-R) Wendy Durward, director Infiniti Canada; Christian Meunier, president Nissan Canada; and Tim Franklin, senior manager product planning Infiniti Canada with Infiniti’s 2014 Q50 sports sedan—winner Best New Luxury Car (over $50k), Best New Innovation Technology and Best New Safety Technology awards.

With a mission to make its cars look and feel romantic again, Infiniti has opened a new automotive design facility in London, England.

Infiniti Design London, based in the iconic Battleship Building at Paddington Basin, is the first of a network of global design studios for the company as it gears up for a new-model offensive over the next five years, including an all-new model to be manufactured in the UK.

“Design is a key driver as we continue to sharpen the Infiniti brand,” said Francois Goupil de Bouillé, Infiniti vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our passion for design will deliver a broad range of very distinct premium vehicles—the expansion of our product portfolio is at the core of our growth plan.”

With Infiniti Design London fully open, the facility will be able to design and make full-size clay models. It is one of very few full-capability automotive design centres around the world to have a city centre location.

Infiniti’s London design studio occupies space within the Battleship Building, so-called because of the way its superstructure rears up above the surrounding area and the close-by Westway road. The building was completed in 1969 as a maintenance depot for British Rail and is listed as being of historical importance.

“Infiniti has always been about passion–for design, performance and craftsmanship,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Infiniti executive design director. “With our new-generation models we want to express all that passion plus a new romanticism—and London is a great place to find the inspiration for it. London buzzes with youthful excitement. We are here to pick up that buzz and tailor premium products so they deliver a European take on Infiniti.”

Car enthusiasts will be able to judge that for themselves on October 2, 2014, when Infiniti’s new concept car has its world premiere at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Designed at the London facility, the concept, called Q80 Inspiration, previews a new top-of-the-range model for Infiniti.

More than 10 new Infinitis have been already designed in Infiniti’s design studios around the world in the past 18 months. Concept versions of the new “romantic” models will start to appear at upcoming international motor shows.

Infiniti Design London joins other Infiniti facilities in the UK, including an engineering centre at Cranfield and assembly plant in Sunderland, which from 2015 will begin the first Infiniti production in Europe.

The design studio employs many nationalities—Belgian, Croatian, German, Korean, Russian and Welsh—among its staff of designers, modellers and colour and trim specialists.

Infiniti plans to expand its premium model range by 60 per cent by the end of the decade.