Currently reading: Paris motor show 2010: Infiniti plans 1-series rival
New model could be front drive and share its platform with the new Mercedes A-class

Infiniti is planning a big European expansion with a rival to the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series, company boss Toru Saito has told Autocar at the Paris motor show.

Saito wouldn’t be drawn on exact details but gave clues that such a car would be front-drive and could even use a Mercedes platform, following the recent strategic tie-up between Daimler and Nissan-Renault.

"We are looking at the option of sharing and I can’t deny the possibility of front-drive," he said.

One option for the future small Infiniti could be to use the next-generation Mercedes A-class platform. The company has already stated that it plans to use Merc four-cylinder diesel and petrol models for future models. Smaller engines will also find their way into the next-gen BMW 3-series-rivalling G saloon and possibly the current EX SUV.

Saito also gave more detail on Infiniti’s planned electric model, based on the NIssan Leaf and due to go on sale in 2013.

“Our EV has to realise the character of Infiniti,” he said, “it has to have better acceleration than the Leaf, better handling and a longer range because luxury customers are less likely to compromise on convenience.’

Chas Hallett

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