Nissan Motor Company’s Infiniti luxury brand has made known ambitious expansion plans, targeting worldwide sales of 600,000 units by 2020 under the direction of new brand chief Johan de Nysschen. That means expansion into the Chinese market as well as more European countries, along with an expanded lineup covering at least 90% of luxury segments. Today, Infiniti’s lineup offers entries in around 60% of total luxury segments, de Nysschen tells Automotive News.
At least at launch, the base engine will be a return of the G37′s 3.7-liter VQ37DE engine with minor updates, with power output ringing in at a thrilling 328 horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque thanks to Nissan/Infiniti’s Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS) and Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL). A seven-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters and automatic rev-matched downshifts will come standard.
Even more enticing is the new Q50 Hybrid model, which receives the same Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid system as the brand’s larger 2013 M35h hybrid (the Infiniti M will be renamed Q70 for 2014). Combining a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a 50-kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack, at peak the system outputs 354 horsepower. That could well make the Q50 Hybrid the quickest gas-electric on the market, and Infiniti ensures that driving dynamics won’t suffer.
In the exterior design department, the Q50 gets a softer look when compared with the outgoing G37 sedan. With wavelike body lines extending from its “double arch” grille to its crescent-shaped C-pillars, the overall image is pleasing and cohesive, if a little bland. Others are raving about it, and you may too, though we were left wanting for a little more definition; a little more Cadillac ATS and a little less Nissan Altima in our luxury sport sedans, thank you.
Nissan’s luxury arm, perhaps more than any other automaker, has been going downright overboard lately with the introduction of advanced driving aid and safety technologies. The Q50 marks the world debut of all-electric steering on a production car. Using several redundant computing modules, the Direct Adaptive Steering system eliminates the mechanical linkage between the steering wheel and wheels – a mechanical steering system still exists as a back-up – allowing the Infiniti to independently control each front wheel, as well as automatically compensate for crosswinds and road imperfections with the addition of Active Lane Control with a front-facing camera. We’ll see how it feels behind the wheel.
Other new tech: the Infiniti Connected infotainment system now receives dual capacitive touchscreens, plus hand gesture recognition for even simpler operation. With smartphone-pairing in-car apps and Infiniti’s 24-hour personal concierge and emergency assistance telematics system, this is one of the more advanced interfaces on the market.
Pricing and Availability
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 will go on sale in Summer 2013 with six-cylinder and hybrid options. A four-cylinder model, to replace the G25, has not been announced but should be forthcoming. Pricing has not been released, but we expect the Q50 to start at around $36,000 – $38,000.
As Infiniti continues its rapid worldwide expansion and prepares for a blitz of new product in the next 2 model years, Nissan’s luxury brand has announced a paradigm shift to a new model name structure.
Since the brand’s start in 1989 with the Q45 luxury sedan, Infiniti has used a letter designation for each of its model lines, followed by a two-digit number representing the vehicle’s engine displacement. Starting next year for the 2014 model year, this will change across the board.
Each passenger car will now be titled “Q”, with a two-digit designation representing the individual model. SUVs and crossovers will use the prefix “QX”, followed by a two-digit number signifying each model.
That means the G Sedan, in its new generation set to debut next month at the Detroit Auto Show, will now be the Q50. Current G Coupe and G Convertible cars will be renamed Q60, while flagship M Sedan lineup will now be called the Q70.
For SUVs, the lineup will start with the QX50, formerly the EX. The JX 7-passenger crossover will now be the QX60, the FX sport-cross will be the QX70, and the full-size current QX56 luxury SUV will be renamed QX80. AWD models will no longer have an “X” tacked on at the end of the model name.
Infiniti’s rationale stems in large part from other automakers already holding the trademarks for names that would have otherwise been used for the expanded lineup. Another just-revealed juicy tidbit: the Q70 flagship sedan will soon debut in an ultra-high-performance trim, with a boosted 3.0-liter V6 making 550 horsepower. Wow!
A visit to the car dealership can be a pain, with lots of time spent and paperwork to sign. It’s even less fun when it’s time to return a leased vehicle. Nissan USA aims to take away the headaches and streamline the process with a new app, RPM Mobile, allowing the entire lease return process to be completed in a few minutes using nothing more than an iOS or Android device.
Here’s how it works:
Show up at the dealer when it’s time to return your leased Nissan or Infiniti.
A dealership representative will scan your car’s VIN number using an iPad, iPhone or Android device.
The RPM Mobile app reads the car’s VIN and matches it to your personal history with Nissan USA.
Confirm the data shown on the screen is correct, and sign off on the lease return right there on the touchscreen.
RPM Mobile can even handle transactions where you’d like to purchase the car at the end of your lease period. The process couldn’t be quicker or simpler, and you can bet other carmakers will start using it soon.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. According to a new study from market research firm New Media Metrics, Infiniti has cultivated the highest emotional attachment among all car brands. The Leveraging Emotional Attachment for Profit (LEAP) index measures consumer brands and products from all sorts of fields, from cars and consumer electronics to amusement parks. Infinti placed third, with the Apple iPhone and iPad taking the top two spots.
The next-closest car brands were Cadillac, BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover in that order. So why Infiniti? Among luxury cars, think of the brand as the happy medium between the comfort of a Lexus and the sport of a BMW, from the G37 IPL to the new 2013 JX luxury crossover. Focusing on advanced infotainment features and cutting edge active safety tech, there’s much more to Nissan’s luxury arm than flowing Japanese designs.
Consumers with high emotional attachment are 2.5 times as likely to pay attention to ads from a given brand and 3 times as likely to consider a purchase, New Media Metrics says.