New soft-roader spearheads Japanese luxury brand's entry to the European market
16 August 2007

This is the Infiniti EX35, a dramatically styled soft-roader that will spearhead Japanese luxury brand Infiniti’s assault on Europe.The EX35, a BMW X3 competitor, goes on sale in the UK in October 2008 alongside three other new Infinitis as Nissan tries to establish its luxury brand as an alternative to BMW, Merc and Audi.The EX is based on the front-engined, rear-drive Infiniti FM platform that’s also under the new Nissan GT-R. It is four-wheel drive, with the bias towards rear-drive.Styled in Japan, the 4.6m-long EX has a very Japanese-look, which is slightly surprising since Infiniti won’t be sold in Japan. The bulk of sales will come from the US, mid-east and Europe.Its face is aggressive, featuring Inifniti’s distinctive ‘double-arch’ grille and sheet metal that flows dramatically over the front wings onto the sharply-raked bonnet. A sloping rear window and lower roofline than typical on soft-roaders completes the sporty styling.At the heart of Infiniti’s marketing campaign will be engine technology: the EX’s high-output, 290bhp 3.5-litre V6 packs around 20bhp more than the BMW’s superb, magnesium-blocked 3.0si six-cylinder unit. Infiniti plans to use this engine to position the company as the ‘Japanese BMW’ in contrast to Lexus, which is seen as a Japanese Mercedes.Despite this emphasis on advanced powertrain, the EX will have a five-speed auto, rather than the more cutting-edge six-speeder. Nissan says it will manage 0-62mph in 7.5sec and go on to a 150mph top speed.Suspension is by alloy double wishbones at the front, mounted on a subframe for better refinement. At the rear is an alloy multi-link. All-wheel drive is standard, with the bias towards rear-drive, although the torque-sensing diff can adjust the split up to 50:50 in slippery conditions.Inside, the EX is said to be as roomy as an X3, thanks to a very similar 2.8m-long wheelbase. The seating position is somewhere between that of a saloon and an SUV.The interior looks to be high quality, with a design theme best characterised as Japanese. Real wood trim and neat metal accents add quality. Knowing that luxury car-buyers want choice, the EX will be offered with the option of two different woods and several colour leather trims.

Julian Rendell

Find out more about Infiniti’s plans for Europe here

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