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Infiniti pulls forward G sedan launch

G spot: The current Infiniti G has been a vital model for the brand in the US, prompting the company to reveal the next model in Detroit rather than Geneva.

Detroit show: Vital mid-size Infiniti G to debut earlier than expected

3 Sep 2012

INFINITI has pulled forward the world reveal of its new G series sedan a couple of months and will now unveil it at the Detroit motor show in January rather than the Geneva show in March.

However, it will not hit the market until much later next year, and may not come to Australia until early 2014 rather than late 2013 as expected.

Infiniti Global president Johan De Nysschen – in Australia for the local brand launch this week – told GoAuto that the mid-size G sedan at Detroit would not be a concept, but the full production model that will tackle the vital segment populated by the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

It will be built on a unique “pure Infiniti” rear-wheel-drive platform – not a modified Mercedes C-Class base as had been speculated overseas – developed in Japan and manufactured at Nissan’s Tochigi plant.

Power will come from a range of new Mercedes-Benz-designed inline four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines to be built by Nissan/Infiniti in the US, as well as the familiar Nissan-based petrol V6 that features in the Infiniti FX SUV and M sedan just launched in Australia.

Mr De Nysschen told us the new G would be launched in the United States in “late third quarter or early fourth quarter”, with Australian release within six months.

16 center imageFrom top: Infiniti's global president Johan De Nysschen Infiniti G Coupe and Convertible.

“The new G is due next year and we will unveil it with the world premiere at Detroit,” Mr De Nysschen told us.

“It’s well ahead of market introduction, but we want to utilise the Detroit show because the US is such an important market for that car and the existing G is so successful there.

“So we’ve taken the decision pull forward the premiere of the car from Geneva to Detroit.” The global launch of the new G sedan may take a little gloss off the local launch only weeks earlier of the G Coupe and G Convertible, which are based on the outgoing model but still have a couple of years to run before being replaced by the new generation.

Despite the inevitable interest in the release of the new-generation G into the biggest segment in the luxury market, Infiniti Australia remains committed to its launch strategy of introducing the current Coupe and Convertible ahead of the new sedan.

Infiniti Cars Australia general manager Kevin Snell said the sporty variants were quite distinct models to the sedan and were still quite fresh products that would appeal to a different customer.

“The Coupe and Convertible are highly competitive products in the middle of their lifecyle (and) they’ve still got a lot to offer the market for two or three years yet,” he told GoAuto.

“The two biggest segments are SUV and mid-sedan, so the decision was made to focus on FX to launch the brand and establish the brand in that key segment and give that product its air time, launch that one properly and establish the brand, then bring in the all-important new sports sedan into the biggest segment 12 months later.” Nissan Australia managing director Bill Peffer said “they’re different products satisfying different customer needs”.

“If we thought there was going to be cannibalisation or procrastination in the market to buy, then we would probably rethink it, but it’s different consumers,” said Mr Peffer.

While Mr De Nysschen indicated a September or October launch in the US, Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer said it would take a little while for the Australian-spec vehicles to go into production.

“Australia has always been a bit difficult because you have a unique seatbelt requirement, but the full range is in the period of around six months,” Mr Palmer told us. “It’s coming from one manufacturing site, which helps.” Mr Palmer would not indicate how much longer it would take to introduce the Coupe and Convertible versions.

“There is a lag, but obviously the coupe is fundamentally evolved from the same basic vehicle, so it’s not a tremendous lag.” Mr De Nysschen, who only recently moved from heading up Audi in the US to take up his post at Infiniti’s new HQ in Hong Kong, said the new G is a key model in the brand’s ambitions to expand global sales from 200,000 this year to 500,000 in the coming years.

Having missed the car’s development period, he said he had been able to fully appreciate it as a complete car.

“I get the full impact of the final product and I am absolutely stunned by it,” he told us.

“It has really great design I think it’s very dynamic, very sporty, a clear progression of the design language, and the interior also I think is taking Infiniti interiors to a new level.

“It is a good benchmark for successor models for Infiniti because this raises the bar very high. It’s even going to challenge M as the next car up in the hierarchy, it’s that good.

“It captures the latest status of technology for the brand, so in that sense it will bring in a lot of new technologies that will spread across all the Infiniti models in time.

“The design language is something that is always evolving. We’ve seen hints of where the Infiniti designers are going with various concept cars in recent years and the G captures a lot of that.

“The real leap forward I would have to say is that is sets a clear example of where Infiniti is going, upgrading the overall perceived quality. It’s very good dynamically as well. An excellent package.”

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