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BMW M4, QX50 on Infiniti’s radar

Inspired: The QX Inspiration Concept previews the QX50 mid-size SUV that is on the cards for Australia.

Infiniti Q60 Project Black S and QX50 set to grow brand

20 Apr 2017

INFINITI Cars Australia product planning manager Bernard Michel has revealed that production versions of the sports coupe Q60 Project Black S Concept and QX Sport Inspiration medium SUV concept have both been given the go-ahead, each with specific targets to drive brand image and sales growth respectively.

Speaking at the national media launch of the Q60 Red Sport in rural Victoria last week, Mr Michel explained Infiniti’s book-end strategy of simultaneously building the brand with a halo Q60 sportscar, and driving volume by offering a brand new Mercedes-Benz GLC rival, called the QX50, in the medium SUV class.

“We’re on a trajectory of introducing new product into the range,” Mr Michel he said.

“A lot of the previous-generation stuff was the old generation, so from that perspective I can only really see sustainable growth moving forward and it’s about getting the right products for the market.”

Number one, Mr Michel argued, was turning the QX Sport Inspiration concept – first shown at January’s Detroit motor show – into the production QX50 medium SUV, although he conceded that “we probably won’t see it this year”.

Asked whether the QX50 would look like the concept vehicle, however, he replied: “It does, it’s pretty close.

“Right now the Australian market is an SUV-based market and that’s where we want to back-fill a lot of our product line-up,” he continued.

“Q30 is contributing to growth, but I still think a medium-sized SUV is the one for this market. We’re watching that (a production QX Sport Inspiration) vigilantly and we think that’s the car, the punters are telling us that. That’s the one that will continue the growth for Infiniti in this country.”

A change in Infiniti’s global CEO from Johan de Nysschen, who presided over the company from July 2012 until July 2014, to Roland Krueger, formerly senior vice-president at BMW, has also finally handed the brand a BMW M4 sportscar rival.

Despite being initially slated for production, Infiniti killed off 2014’s Q50 Eau Rouge Concept, which used a Nissan GT-R drivetrain in a medium sedan body.

The brand’s next foray into a similar concept vehicle was in March 2017 with the Q60 Project Black S, which Mr Michel insisted would not be killed off.

“Let’s just say under the new regime of management I doubt that (it would be killed off),” he said.

“It was under two different sets of management. Roland Krueger who is the CEO now, he comes from BMW, so performance-based cars and he has an objective, he wants to see these sorts of projects come to life. His endeavour is to continue to build this brand.

“He’s pushing this agenda and he wants to have a fast flagship for the company.”

The concept was powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine developing 298kW, and boosted by a Renault Sport F1-derived hybrid Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) said to raise outputs by 25 per cent – to around 373kW.

Mr Michel revealed that the Infiniti engineers working on the Renault Sport F1 program want “a one-for-one translation” between racing technology and sportscar design.

“I think there’s a relationship there with F1, we’re the technical partner to them (Renault Sport) specialising in hybrids,” Mr Michel said.

“CO2 emissions targets are everywhere around the globe, so electric cars, hybrids, that’s the way of the future. If they have got specialised know-how about it, why not use it? If you’ve got the potential from a performance perspective to do it, why not?“It (a production Q60 Project Black S) is pretty advanced. Going back to the roots of Q50 we launched the hybrid here a few years back and it still performs extremely well, 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds, it’s an extremely fast car with astonishing fuel economy. It’s the sort of thing that Infiniti want to separate themselves from the rest of the market by doing different things.

“Things like the Project Black S (when) that comes to fruition … that builds another whole new element to the brand in terms of performance credentials”.

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