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Next Infiniti QX60 a chance for Australia

Local potential: Infiniti has been unable to compete in the lucrative mid-sized SUV segment with its left-hand-drive-only QX60, but right-hand drive has not been ruled-out for the next generation.

Infiniti’s US-built QX60 may gain right-hand drive in next-gen redesign


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27 Jul 2015

INFINITI is believed to be investigating a right-hand-drive layout for its next-generation QX60 mid-sized SUV, which could herald the arrival of a new Audi Q5 competitor on Australian soil.

The current version is only produced at the United States factory as a left-hand-drive model, ruling it out for Australia, but the Japanese car-maker could offer its replacement as a right-hooker when it arrives in about three years.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the QX80 full-sized four-wheel drive, Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux said that the QX60 had previously been under consideration for Australia, but the numbers for right-hand-drive re-engineering and local homologation did not add up.

However, with the current version already four years old in North America, it is likely that a fresh look at the QX60’s replacement, including the feasibility of right-hand drive, will soon be underway.

“If you look at VFACTS, the small and medium SUV sales are the vehicles that are growing fastest, especially in the premium world,” Mr Roux said.

“But there are no plans for the QX60 to come over to Australia. We looked at the business plan, we looked at the cost and the potential, and it wouldn’t work currently.

“We will be willing to come back to the segment in the mid-term, but not for now. It is quite obvious that we would love to have such an offering, but it is too early to say when. I cannot comment, it would be important to us but we currently don’t have any plans.”

Based on the Renault-Alliance D-platform front-drive/transverse engine architecture that also underpins the Nissan’s Pathfinder, Murano, Altima and Maxima, the QX60 started life as the Infiniti JX35 in 2012, and switched to the luxury brand’s new QX SUV nomenclature the following year.

Like the closely-related Pathfinder – both are made in Tennessee, USA – the QX60 has been offered with a choice of a 3.5-litre V6 or 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric series-parallel hybrid system, although the latter was dropped from the American range a few months ago.

However, it is rumoured that the next-generation QX60 will gain a plug-in hybrid system based on the Nissan Leaf’s set-up, allowing for pure-electric motivation for at least part of the time.

As well as a Q5 rival, the QX60 would give Infiniti Cars Australia ammunition against hot-selling premium medium SUVs such as the BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Range Rover Evoque, and the Volvo XC60.

It would complete a full line of SUVs for the Japanese luxury marque, alongside the BMW X5-challenging QX70 and Lexus LX570-shadowing QX80 at the top of the range.

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