The reason Japanese brands have gone for designs ranging from bold to extravagant is so that they can get ahead in the tightly-contested premium segment race taking place in China.
The country will soon surpass the US as the biggest luxury market, with almost 1.7 million sales this year as predicted by Infiniti president Roland Krueger, which is why they are all hell-bent to impress customers.
Lexus, Acura and Infiniti are relatively newcomers in China, so in order to snatch buyers from their well-established German rivals, they want to appeal to them visually before anything else.
“It’s with China in mind because China is a rather young market,” said Nissan Motor CCO Shiro Nakamura while discussing the China-only CDX compact crossover.
The restyled Lexus IS itself got a lot bolder with the (now signature) spindle grille and a pair of massive air ducts, while the Infiniti QX Sport concept is yet another example of this trend.
“That’s one of the reasons why we have developed this design language, which is most probably a little bit more extrovert than other design langages, purposely,” explained Krueger.
As reported by Autonews, sales rose across the board for all three of these Japanese automakers in China last year, with Acura even getting a massive 93% boost.
“China is a very competitive market – maybe the most competitive globally. Thus, we think distinctiveness is extremely important in this market,” argued Lexus’ global exterior design chief Kouichi Suga. “We wanted to come up with a distinctive Lexus design and not be buried by the German three.”
Suga also points out how Mercedes, Audi and BMW tend to pursue more conventional styling, with clean design lines from the front all the way to the rear – in contrast to what Lexus is doing.
While there are still plenty of voices advocating for more subtle and elegant designs, it seems that the race for Chinese premium market supremacy could end up dictating the way at least some Lexus, Infiniti and Acura models will look.
Note: Acura Precision, Infiniti QX Sport & Lexus LF-FC concepts pictured