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Infiniti Lineup to Expand Both Ways, Q20 to Follow Production Q80

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 10/10/2014 Paul Horrell

Infiniti's sedan range will expand both upwards and downwards over the next five years. The Q80 Inspiration concept car shown at the Paris Motor Show is very much an indication for a range-topper, due four years from now.

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It will follow the Q30, a four-door front-drive hatchback to be built in the U.K. from next year. The Q30 sits on Mercedes' A-class platform. This will bring Infiniti into what is a critical high-volume market in Europe, the premium sector populated by the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3, and Mercedes CLA-Class.

Answering a question from Motor Trend on the eve of the show, Nissan-Infiniti CEO Carlos Ghosn said, "We will enlarge Infiniti's product offer. It will move up and down [beyond the Q30]. Not for the next three years, but long-term. I'm optimistic for growth and more profit."

Group design director Shiro Nakajima confirmed that they are already doing advanced work on a Q20.The Q80 Inspiration runs a brand-new 3.0-liter V-6 with twin turbos, plus a hybrid system. The V-6 makes 440 hp alone, giving an electrically boosted total of 550 hp. Performance is stated at "less than 4.0 seconds" for 0-62 mph.

The engine is all-aluminum, part of a new direct-injection family. It, and the concept car's nine-speed auto, will make its debut in an Infiniti two years from now, said product strategy director Francois Bancon. Is it related to a Daimler engine? "No but it will be available to them." Will it be used in Nissans? "No, it's too expensive. It's a high-performance engine."

© Provided by MotorTrend He continued, "By 2019 Infiniti will have 100 percent more powertrains than now, and 60 percent more models. Our objectives aren't directly driven by a volume target. If we sell 400,000 cars a year by then, I'm fine, but 500,000 is better."

Asked about the Eau Rouge concept, he said, "Our intention is to do it. And to do a performance version -- maybe not as high performance as the Eau Rouge -- in each category." So, given it made the mid-engined Emerg-E concept in 2012, what about a pure sports car as an addition for Infiniti? "That's another story. We have some ideas, but nothing concrete. We're not in a hurry as it's a small market. The young people we target aren't so much driven by the idea of a sports car. It's too egotistic for them."

The Q80 Inspiration previews autonomous drive technologies, an area in which Nissan is preeminent. Said Ghosn, "We are pioneering it because it gives more control to the driver, not less. It's not about the driverless car. It lets the driver drive when he wants."

Infiniti's head in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Francois Goupil de Bouille, says of the production Q80, "It will have the highest performance in its segment." He too clarifies how serious they are about production. "You remember the show car for the Q30? It was 90 percent of the real thing. We have the same intention here. But if we want to succeed we have to come with a credible portfolio. We're a challenger; there's no space waiting for us."

Infiniti's studios around the world submitted competing proposals for the initial design theme of the concept. The winner came from Infiniti's new studio in London, under the direction of British-born Simon Cox. Cox did a string of dramatic and highly influential Cadillacs in the early 2000s. He and other senior Infiniti managers said it's likely the tail of the car will take a slightly different form, perhaps a notchback.

Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept© Provided by MotorTrend Infiniti Q80 Inspiration concept
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