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Name game: Infiniti’s new compacts will both be called QX30

Infiniti seems to enjoy confusing people. Recently, it introduced a new naming scheme under which every model name begins with “Q” or “QX,” and is followed by a number that has no obvious significance. Now, Nissan’s luxury brand says its two new compact models will both be named QX30.

Actually, this makes some sense. Infiniti initially introduced the Q30 hatchback as a distinct model, with the QX30 as a crossover derivative. But the two vehicles are pretty much the same. The QX30 is different from the Q30 in the same way that the Subaru XV Crosstrek is different from the Impreza; it’s a little taller and features more butch, SUV styling.

Which may be why Infiniti decided to use the QX30 moniker for both models instead. The former Q30 is now the QX30S, but keeps its lower ride height and more car-like styling. Infiniti now describes all variants as crossovers, although they’re really conventional five-door hatchbacks masquerading as members of that oh so popular segment.

Related: 2016 Infiniti QX50 first drive

Infiniti notes that it was already planning to sell the higher-riding QX30 as the Q30 in other markets, so either way the nomenclature is getting streamlined. All versions are actually based on the current line of Mercedes-Benz compacts. The model formerly known as the Q30 is an analog for the A-Class, while the QX30 is based on the GLA-Class. Like the Infinitis, the two Mercedes are more or less identical, although because the A-Class isn’t sold here, Americans don’t realize that. So maybe Infiniti is actually being more honest here.

All 2017 Infiniti QX30 variants will use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The 208-horsepower engine and the transmission both come from the Mercedes parts bin. Front-wheel drive is standard on the QX30, with all-wheel drive optional. Other powertrain options will be offered in Europe, where the QX30 will be used to attract buyers turned off by Infiniti’s previous, larger models.

The QX30 will go on sale in the U.S. in mid 2016. It will be followed by the 2017 Infiniti Q60 coupe, which will be unveiled at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show next month and will be based on a previously shown concept.