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Future models - Infiniti - QX50

Infiniti set to debut breakthrough petrol engine

It’s coming: Infiniti Cars Australia has confirmed that it has its hand up for the QX50 mid-sized SUV that is expected to share at least some design cues with the QX Sport Inspiration concept shown at the 2016 Beijing motor show.

Variable compression petrol engine likely to arrive in all-new Infiniti SUV in 2017

Infiniti logo20 Jul 2016

By RON HAMMERTON

A GROUND-BREAKING variable-compression four-cylinder petrol engine with the power of a V6 and fuel efficiency of a 2.0-litre diesel is expected to make its debut in Infiniti’s new-generation QX50 mid-sized luxury SUV that will probably hit the global market in 2017.

Although the engine and its innovative technology remains under wraps, Infiniti Cars Australia has confirmed that the QX50 – potentially a competitor for the Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, BMW X3 and the new Jaguar F-Pace – is on its radar for local introduction.

Designed to sit between the small Infiniti QX30 that arrives in Australian showrooms in the third quarter of this year and the large QX70 (formerly FX) and QX80, the five-door QX50 is thought to be loosely based on Infiniti’s QX Sport Inspiration concept shown at this year’s Beijing motor show in April.

When that concept was shown in China, no powertrain was detailed. Now, however, Infiniti executives have revealed to British journalists in Japan that a new engine equipped with variable compression is set to make its entrance in the production version of the second-generation QX50.

This technology has been a holy grail of powertrain engineers seeking the benefits of big-engine performance and small-engine economy for years. Infiniti parent company Nissan itself has been working on it for decades, and apparently has hit the jackpot with technology to make it work.

Such an engine would be a boon for Infiniti sales in the world’s biggest markets, China and North America, where petrol vehicle sales dominate.

Given that Infiniti frequently unveils its production cars a year after the concept, the new QX50 might step into the public spotlight at the Shanghai Auto Expo or New York motor show about April next year.

This could preface a showroom debut in major markets in mid-to-late 2017, perhaps rolling into 2018 for smaller markets.

Asked if the QX50 was destined for Australia, Infiniti Cars Australia general manager corporate communications Peter Fadeyev told GoAuto: “That is our intention.” Mr Fadeyev said the local Infiniti team was awaiting further details on the QX50, including a target launch date.

The current first-generation QX50 was launched as the EX in late-2007 in the US before making its European debut in 2008. It never made it to Australia.

The vehicle was rebadged QX50 in 2013 as part of a major makeover that is now running out of marketing steam.

Until now, the QX50 has stuck with V6 engines in petrol and diesel forms, but if the overseas reports are correct, a four-cylinder petrol engine is on the cards.

This engine will almost certainly be rolled out into other Infiniti models and, perhaps, Nissan and Renault vehicles.

Reports out of Europe also suggest that Infiniti is preparing to wheel out a variety of hot ‘S’ variants of its latest range, employing warmed over VQ-series V6 petrol and hybrid powertrains to help take the fight up the German manufacturers.

So far this year, Infiniti sales in Australia are up almost 32 per cent, to 357 units. That tally is expected to jump when the QX30 lands, bringing a relatively affordable crossover vehicle into the local range.

Like the standard hatch version, the Q30, the QX30 is based on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

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