Infiniti SA takes on German trio
BLAST FROM THE PAST: Nissan hopes to carve itself a slice of the premimum car market in SA with relaunch of its Infiniti brand in SA. Picture above is its stylish FX SUV.
Back in early 1990's Infiniti's Q45 were on our roads not long after Lexus introduced us to the LS400. Now in 2012, Nissan is set to take on the SA premium vehicle market with the (re)introduction of its Infiniti luxury car brand.
Infiniti will take on the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz with its range of sedans, coupes and cross-overs in June 2012.
Nissan SA's managing director Mike Whitfield is delighted by this development: "We are thrilled to be bringing Infiniti to South Africa," Whitfield said. "We are confident that it will be as successful here as it is in many other regions around the world."
The model line-up for SA will comprise of the FX SUV, EX luxury compact SUV, G Coupe and Cabriolet and its BMW 5 Series rival, the M luxury sedan.
Infiniti dealers will open in Gauteng, kwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape with the first centres opening in Hatfield, Pretoria and Melrose Arch, Johannesburg in mid-2012. Durban and Cape Town will open later in 2012.
Strangely, Nissan SA has failed to remind us that the Infiniti brand used to be sold in South Africa - check the little history lesson at the end of this item.
The all-wheel drive FX crossover could take on Kia's Sportage or Hyundai's ix35 when it arrives. The SA specification has not been confirmed but globally the FX sports a range of engines including a 290kW 5.0 V8 and a 175kW diesel and 235kW petrol V6 mated to a seven-speed auto.
EX luxury compact SUV
Infiniti's stylish compact crossover will take on BMW's X3 with its 235kW V6 sending power to all four wheels.
G Coupe and Cabriolet
This range vehicles has been around since the 1990s but in 2012 SA will only receive the Cabriolet and Coupe. In terms of market positioning it will probably squeeze between BMW's 3 and 5 Series and Mercedes C and E-class. The G Coupe and Cabriolet are powered by 3.7 V6 capable of 250kW/370Nm mated to a seven-speed auto.
M luxury sedan
Infiniti's M sedan is purpose-built to take on its German rivals, namely the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The European line-up has a choice of engines; a 235kW V6, 175kW 3.0 V6 diesel and even a hybrid version which combines 3.5 petrol to an electric motor for a combined output of 268kW. All engine options are mated to a seven speed auto.
*South African pricing and specifications yet to be confirmed
A LITTLE HISTORY...
The Infiniti's previous incarnation in South Africa was in the early 1990's, a 4.1-litre (if we recall correctly) eight-cylinder known as the Q45. Though it was marketed by Nissan it - just like Toyota's association with Lexus - was played down by the parent.
Competition between it and the then new Lexus brand was intense but eventually Nissan conceded defeat and the Infiniti badge disappeared from the South African market and, just as Seat was to do two decades later, drew widespread complaints from owners.
It was a great car, solid, fast, but not particularly fuel-efficient - but back then, who cared?