Infiniti is planning to put the Q80 luxury car concept into production in the next ‘three to five years’ and add to the range at the bottom with an entry-level model called the Q20. Bosses at Nissan’s luxury brand are also considering sharing more tech with Mercedes.
Speaking on the eve of the Paris motor show, Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn told Autocar that Infiniti was "going to move up and down in its product portfolio". "We need to mass market Infiniti and we need to do so by enlarging our product offering," he said.
Infiniti’s European boss, Francois Goupil de Bouille, admitted that putting the range-topping Q80 concept into production was a priority. "The Q80 is way more than a design study, this is our entry into the large saloon segment," he told Autocar. "Our intention with any prototype is to put as much as possible of it on the road, maybe as much as 90 per cent of the concept."
European design director, Simon Cox, also admitted that other high end cars were being planned: "Just because we’re doing that [the Q80] doesn’t mean that we’re not doing other high-end cars," he said. Rumours have been circulating that Infiniti is also plotting a large traditional saloon and a Range Rover rival, possibly to be badged QX80.
The Q80, and other future large Infinitis could also be built on shared Mercedes platforms. Renault-Nissan Alliance global director Jacques Verdonck admitted that the company was currently considering extending its relationship and using Mercedes rear-drive platforms for its larger cars. "Their rear-drive platforms would make sense for economies of scale, though our tuning would have to be different," he said.
Infiniti vice president Francois Bancon believes a production version of the Q80 would have no direct rivals. Although it could be construed as a rival to the Mercedes-Benz S-class and BMW 7-series, he said, those cars appeal to older buyers.
Bancon says Infiniti buyers average age is 54 – younger than its rivals – and in China it's even lower, with an average age in the late 30s. The production Q80 would target these younger buyers, especially in China, who want a large luxury car but don't want an S-class or a 7-series because that's the sort of car their parents drive.
Global design director Shiro Nakamura also revealed that a Q20 is being planned which could line up against the Mini and Audi A1, although the next launch from the brand will be the Audi A3-rivalling Q30 which goes on sale in the middle of 2015.
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