15 April 2004

Nissan has unveiled the BMW 5-series rival that is expected to spearhead the launch of its Infiniti luxury division in the UK.

The Infiniti M45 – shown as a close-to-production concept at last week’s New York Motor Show – could be on sale here as early as 2007.

Nissan is still formalising plans for the European launch of its Infiniti luxury division, but current estimates are that it will happen in 2007 or 2008.

The main hurdle will be sourcing a large-capacity turbodiesel for the M45. With no suitable engine available from partner Renault, Nissan is believed to be investigating possible joint ventures with other car makers.

When the production M45 goes on sale in the US next spring – Nissan already has its Infiniti division established Stateside – it will be offered as a rear-drive 4.5-litre V8, and rear- or all-wheel drive 3.5-litre V6.

The M45 is based on a modified version of Nissan’s so-called FM (Front Midship) platform, currently used in Infiniti’s G35 saloon and coupé, and FX45 crossover 4x4.Power will come from Nissan’s 32-valve 4.5-litre V8 producing 340bhp, or a 260bhp version of its 3.5-litre V6 from the 350Z sports car.

The new M45 will have to compete with such established rivals as the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class, the new Jaguar S-type and Lexus GS.

The concept shown at the New York show featured Nissan’s new Lane Departure Warning system, which warns drivers of a pending unintended lane departure.

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