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Nissan goes Skyline for Japanese SUV

Name game: The Nissan Skyline Crossover is known as the Infiniti EX in the US.

Infiniti crossover must wait for better times in Australia

20 Apr 2009

THE upmarket Infiniti EX SUV that is high on Nissan Australia’s wish-list for its proposed Infiniti luxury division in Australia has been released in Japan as the Nissan Skyline Crossover.

But Nissan Australia will not follow its Japanese parent company’s lead, preferring to save the EX for the Infiniti stable should economic conditions improve sufficiently to roll out the blue-blood brand for another attempt Down Under.

A proposal to revive the Infiniti distribution network in Australia and take the prestige-vehicle battle up to Toyota’s Lexus and the European marques was put on hold last year, scuttled by the global financial crisis and difficult exchange rates.

Nissan is mindful that all the planets have to be aligned to make such a venture work, as the last attempt ended in tears in 1997 after four years of slow sales.

12 center imageNissan Australia’s corporate communications manager Jeff Fisher said the reintroduction of Infiniti to Australia was an open-ended quest for Nissan Australia.

“It is very much a question of timing,” he said. “When the economic clouds clear, we expect Infiniti will be back on the agenda.

“But now is not a great time to be launching a new luxury brand requiring a national dealer network.”

Mr Fisher confirmed that the Infiniti EX – known as the Infiniti EX37 in Europe – would be considered for the luxury division, depending on how soon the Infiniti brand could be introduced.

The all-wheel-drive, five-seat EX – built on the same ‘FM’ platform as the Nissan 350Z and Infiniti G37 – has already been on the US market for more than a year.

Powered by a 3.5-litre version of Nissan’s acclaimed VQ V6 engine series, which propels a wide range of Nissan vehicles from the Maxima to the 370Z sportscar, the Infiniti EX has 221kW of power and 343Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

In Infiniti’s fledgling European network, the EX was launched recently as the EX37, with a bigger, 3.7-litre engine from the 370Z, with 233kW and 360Nm.

In Japan, where there is no Infiniti distribution network, Nissan has elected to use the highly regarded Skyline model branding to launch the new vehicle.

Described by Nissan as a fusion between a coupe and SUV, the Skyline Crossover is a first cousin of the Japanese Skyline coupe, which is marketed in the US as the AWD Infiniti G37 Coupe (launched in 2007).

The Japanese Skyline Crossover carries the same 3.7-litre V6 as the European EX37.

Similar in concept and size to the Maxima-based 3.5-litre V6 Nissan Murano, the Infiniti EX/Skyline Crossover nevertheless is loaded with luxury trimmings and features, such as a Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) system, Around View Monitor (AVM) camera system for elimination of parking blind spots and ‘Scratch Shield’ – a ‘self-healing’ paint surface that can ‘repair’ minor scratches.

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