SOURCE: AMONLINENissan plans network for Infiniti sales
4 June 2006
Author: Phil McNamara, Car associate editor
Infiniti will launch in the UK at the end of 2008. Nissan’s premium brand has broken out of its Stateside pen and into Asia and the middle east, with Russia set to be its first European outpost from August.
In the UK, bosses are drawing up plans for a fledgling dealer network. The showrooms will be bespoke, at the insistence of Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, who also demands exceptional levels of customer satisfaction that befit a premium marque.
What will they be selling? The new G35 saloon, unveiled at last month’s New York auto show, is a certainty. Sold as a four-door and coupé, the rear-wheel drive cars are pitched at the BMW 3-series. The Nissan 350Z’s 3.5-litre V6, uprated to 300bhp-plus, provides the power.
Also likely is the 5-series rivalling M saloon, which went on US sale last year with the V6 and a 4.5-litre V8 petrol engine. Both the G and M series are global cars, designed to conform to European regulations.
Ideally, Infiniti would like to launch with the stunning FX SUV. It’s the finest example of the crossover, a fastback upper section grafted onto chunky 4x4 underpinnings. F1 driver David Coulthard imported one after spying the FX in New York. Not only is the FX Infiniti’s icon, but it would be launching into a far less entrenched market segment than its saloon siblings. Just compare the relative success of Volkswagen’s Touareg and Phaeton.
However, the FX is due for replacement in 2009, and there’s no point launching with a car on run out. Consequently, Infiniti could pull the FX MkII forward.
Nissan won’t repeat Lexus’ mistake and launch without a diesel. It is developing a V6 unit with Renault, using BMW’s 3.0-litre six as the benchmark, so expect well in excess of 200bhp and 350lb ft of torque.