Infiniti is planning a sporty four-door saloon, in the style of the Porsche Panamera to become the joint flagship of an expanded range of models.
The new car is part of an ambitious £4 billion plan to become a serious global luxury brand. Infiniti wants to carve out ten per cent of the market, equivalent to about 500,000 sales by 2020, and add a further five models to its range while overhauling the current line-up.
The plan is backed up by Infiniti’s title sponsorship of Red Bull Racing, which is key to spreading awareness of Infiniti around the globe.
The new range-topping model could be badged Q100, the same name as Sebastian Vettel’s Formula 1 car. It will take its styling inspiration from the Essence, which was first seen at the 2009 Geneva show. No dates have yet been confirmed, but a launch around 2017-2018 is being mooted.
It’s possible the fastback-style car will be based on the Mercedes-Benz MRA platform that will underpin C, E and S-class models, just as Infiniti’s new Q30 is based on Mercedes’ front-drive MFA platform.
Later in the decade, Infiniti’s plan calls for the production four-door to be joined by a mid-engined two-seater powered by a high-tech hybrid powertrain and inspired by the Emerg-E concept first revealed at Goodwood in 2011.
“We don’t want to get too far from the centre of gravity of the brand,” said Nissan/Infiniti vice-president Andy Palmer. “We have the [mid-engined] halo car in the plan, but it is not signed off yet. Sales of saloons such as the Q50 and SUVs like the QX60 will have to be going well, and then I can go to our approval committee.”
Both of the new models will be considered flagships, one for the saloon range and the other for Infiniti’s sportier cars.
Infiniti’s plan avoids head-on conflict with the established German and British players in the luxury market. It is built around a mix of sports-focused saloon, coupé and soft-road models, each styled with panache and powered by electrified hybrid powertrains.
“We can’t just take on the opposition directly,” said new Infiniti boss Johann de Nysschen. “We have to bring our own unique flavour to the global market.”
The inspiration for the four-door flagship is a desire to be different. “We won’t do a Mercedes S-class,” said Palmer. “We want a flagship that’s appealing and different.”
Infiniti’s sporty side is likely to be emphasised with more of the ‘Sebastian Vettel’ branding already seen on the FX SUV. Two-door roadster and coupé rivals to the Mercedes SLK and BMW Z4 are also on Infiniti’s wish list but currently sit outside the 2020 plan.
Another model that’s pencilled in to the global plan is a seven-seat SUV, expected towards the end of the seven-year plan in 2019-2020.