Autocar uncovers Nissan's premium brand UK launch plan, which starts in 2008
16 March 2007

Nissan's luxury brand Infiniti is to launch in the UK in autumn 2008, Autocar can reveal. The upmarket Japanese marque will come to Britain with four new models. They will be a new BMW X3-sized crossover 4x4, its dramatically styled full-sized SUV sibling the FX45, a BMW 3-series-challenging small executive saloon, and a similarly sized two-door coupe – of which a teaser image has just been released.

The European breed in detail

Infiniti's two-door coupe will be shown for the first time at the New York motor show in April. It'll be called the G37, and its design is likely to be a close match for that of the Infiniti Coupe Concept, which was shown at the Detroit motor show in 2006. It will use a 3.7-litre V6 that, with two turbos attached, will also power next year's Nissan GTR.Another of the new-generation, UK-bound Infinitis will be a soft-roader, also due to be revealed at next month’s New York auto show, but this time as a concept called the CUV. Based on the same rear-drive ‘FM’ platform that will underpin all Infiniti models, it promises to be as dramatic-looking as the larger FX45.Moving on again, that larger 4x4 will be replaced next year, in time for the European launch. The new X5 rival will come with a choice of V6 and V8 petrol engines at launch.Infiniti’s BMW 5-series-sized M45 is slated for replacement in 2010 and Europe will get that car the same year, with the same choice of petrol and diesel engines as in the FX 4x4. Neither Infiniti’s current flagship saloon, the Q45, nor the QX45 (a larger-than-Range Rover-sized 4x4), are planned for Europe, however.

Setting the brand apart

“Our distinguishing points will be really strong styling, a range of high output engines and sporty handling, which makes Infiniti more like BMW than Lexus,” said Brian Carolin, Infiniti’s most senior executive in Europe.An Infiniti dealer network will be established in the UK, run by one of the country’s biggest dealer groups with outlets in the main urban centres, and as entirely standalone and separate entities from Nissan outlets.These dealers will get to sell a brand-spanking-new model range. All Infiniti’s European model range will be replacements for models already on sale in the US and some European countries, like Russia. Each will be freshly engineered, with European tastes in chassis tuning and interior style in mind.“We know how important European tailoring is to success here,” said Carolin. “The cabin quality needed for success in the US is lower than that in Europe; the new generation of Infinitis will have levels of material and build quality comparable with the best there are.”In 2009 the brand will add a high-output, sub-3.0-litre V6 diesel engine (considered a prerequisite of success in the European premium segment) to its model ranges.

Julian Rendell

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