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Future models - Infiniti - Etherea

Infiniti says small is the next big

Small luxury: The Infiniti Etherea concept points to the possible design of the Japanese car-maker's upcoming small car.

Local Infiniti boss says compact model will help the brand hit its sales stride

Infiniti logo29 Oct 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

INFINITI says a trio of smaller and cheaper models due over the next three years, led by a new compact hatch, will form the company’s volume pillars in Australia.

Though kicking off later next year with the long-anticipated Mercedes C-Class-size G-series four-door sedan due for a global unveiling at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, the Nissan luxury brand is expected to really hit its stride from 2014 with an Audi A3-style small car combatant.

“We have plans to build an Infiniti compact model in Europe from 2014 and we’ve confirmed it in our plans as an important model for us to grow in the mid-term,” Infiniti Australia general manager Kevin Snell told GoAuto.

“It will move us from being more of a niche alternative luxury brand at launch … and through from 2014/15 it will expand our portfolio into smaller cars, and into a serious player in that segment with reasonable volume.”

As GoAuto reported in May, the C-segment luxury hatch will be made by Magna Steyr in Austria, and will take its styling cues from the Geneva 2011 Etherea concept car.

16 center imageFrom top: Infiniti G Series cabriolet, G Coupe and LE concept.

It will be derived from Mercedes-Benz’s MFA modular platform that also underpins the new B-Class, upcoming A-Class and their spin-off models.

It will be followed in 2015 by a BMW X3 competitor known as the EX SUV, which will probably be built off the new fifth-generation G-series sedan.

The zero-emissions four-door based on the LE concept at this year’s Geneva motor show will also give Infiniti a further push along when it also surfaces within three years.

All will slot below the FX SUV (which starts from $83,900 plus on-roads) and M-series sedan (from $85,900), which were released in September as Infiniti’s answer to the BMW X5 and 5 Series respectively.

Along with the Audi A5-rivalling G37 Coupe and Convertible out in December (which are based on the existing G-series sedan platform), they are at the vanguard of establishing the brand with luxury vehicle buyers in Australia.

Mr Snell said the next EX is high on his wish-list for Australia.

“Overseas, we have the EX crossover, and that won’t be part of our initial launch plan, but certainly when we get to the next generation of crossovers our intention is to expand the range beyond FX,” he said.

“At launch the FX with its styling and performance is doing a great job positioning our brand and letting people know what it stands for, and as new models come on stream we will look at those, too.”

While Mr Snell would not reveal sales targets, he revealed that initial consumer reaction to the FX and M duo was encouraging.

“It’s been really positive with growing enquiry through the dealerships, great traffic through the websites, and (exposure from) the Sydney motor show,” he said.

“We’re seeing it as a key step to build more awareness among the general public, and so far the reception at the dealership, the reception to the car, and the reception to the test drives has been fantastic.”

To the end of August, Infiniti had just 49 vehicles registered with VFACTS, although currently only one dealership is operating (in Sydney).

By the end of the year there will also be outlets in Brisbane and Melbourne, with Adelaide and Perth expected to follow in 2013.

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