Currently reading: Geneva motor show 2011: Baby Infiniti
Turbo four-pot engine lined up for Infiniti’s new small coupé, due at Geneva show

Infiniti’s forthcoming baby model is set to get power from a turbocharged Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder motor, according to sources in Japan.

The new car, which has made its debut at the Geneva show, is said to be a small, premium, coupé-like three-door hatchback, similar in concept to the Mercedes CLC but taking styling cues from the earlier Essence concept.

Sources say the production model is likely to be based on a new Renault-Nissan small platform that will also support the next Mégane. But Infiniti is said to have been struggling to find a small, efficient powerplant for the car that can still give it performance to match the brand’s ‘keen driving’ values.

Its attention has now turned to Mercedes’ 1.8-litre CGI turbocharged unit (designation DE18LA), a motor that has become available due to the recent tech-sharing agreement between Daimler and Renault-Nissan. The final version of the M271 family, this unit produces 201bhp in its highest state of tune, but emits a respectable 178g/km in a C-class.

As part of the deal, Mercedes gets access to Renault-Nissan’s electric systems and global infrastructure, plus its small-capacity petrol engines. The French-Japanese firm’s interests are in larger motors and diesel and hybrid technology. It sees cleaner Mercedes motors as a fast-track to compliance with Europe’s ever-tightening CO2 emissions regulations.

Infiniti’s Merc influence isn’t likely to stop with the small car. Rumours suggest the firm could also access the next-gen S-class platform for a larger model, equipping it with Nissan’s V6 petrol-hybrid powertrain.

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Peter Lyon

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