Japanese luxury car brand Infiniti has arrived in South Africa this week, having been established as a division of Nissan South Africa (Pty) Ltd, with the first dealerships located in Hatfield, Pretoria and Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. We’ve seen the ‘Infiniti’ name on our roads before, back in the 1990s with the Nissan Infiniti Q45 sedan, but this week marks the brand’s official introduction into the local market where it will offer five of its eight models currently on sale globally.
Infiniti, which was established in 1989 and launched initially in the United States, has establish itself as a luxury performance car brand based on its founding principle of ‘Total Ownership Experience’. When dealing with Infiniti, the brand promises owners three distinct qualities: driving pleasure; hospitality; and peace of mind. These may sound like familiar principles when thinking of luxury brands, but Infiniti’s financial commitment of R650 million between now and 2015, gives an initial indication of how serious they mean business. Of course Infiniti’s competitors, such as Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, have deep roots and unless the luxury Japanese automaker can deliver on its promises of ‘hospitality’ and ‘peace of mind’, it may be in for slim pickings – just ask Lexus.
In the immediate future, Infiniti plans to open two additional showrooms in Durban and Cape Town before the year ends, with a further ten dealerships opening by the end of 2014. Infiniti Financial Services has also been established to provide vehicle finance in the luxury market, offering products and services to both companies and individuals.
Infiniti dealerships will have five models on their showroom floors: Infiniti M sedan; Infiniti FX SUV; Infiniti EX compact SUV; Infiniti G Coupe and Infiniti G Cabrio. Across the range, buyers have the choice of V6 or V8 petrol engines, or a V6 diesel, all mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Available levels of specification between the models varies between GT, GT Premium, S and S Premium, but even in entry-level trim, the list of equipment is comprehensive and includes features such as: bi-xenon adaptive cornering headlights; scratch-resistant paint; electrically-adjustable multifunction steering wheel; dual-zone automatic climate control; full leather upholstery; automatic wipers; 7-speaker radio/CD/MP3-player with audio streaming via Bluetooth and USB connectivity.
The Infiniti FX SUV is designed as a luxurious performance SUV, having taken its design cues from the 2009 Infiniti Essence concept supercar. Available with a choice of three engines and four specification levels, the Infiniti FX is the brand’s flagship model. The FX30d is powered by a turbocharged, 3.0-litre, V6 engine, which produces 175 kW and 550 Nm of torque at 1 750 r/min. The FX30d accelerates from 0 – 100 km/h in 8.3 seconds and top speed is 212 km/h. The FX37 is powered by a 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine producing 235 kW and 360 Nm. The FX37 can sprint from 0 – 100 km/h in 6.8 seconds and has a top speed of 233 km/h. The FX50 is powered by a 5.0-litre V8 petrol-powered engine, which produces 287 kW and 500 Nm at 4 400 r/min. The flagship FX needs just 5.8 seconds to reach 100 km/h and top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h. All FX models send power to the wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission and the SUV’s rear-biased all-wheel drive system manages torque between the front and rear axles in a ratio up to 50:50 as required.
Blurring the lines between SUV and crossover, the Infiniti EX promises to be an athletic and luxurious all-rounder. The Infiniti EX is available with a choice of two engines and three levels of specification (GT, GT Premium and S). The EX30d shares the same V6 turbo-diesel engine as found in the larger FX, but it’s smaller and lighter body means it needs only 7.9 seconds to reach 100 km/h and has a top speed of 221 km/h. The 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine from the FX37 is also shared with the EX37, giving the compact SUV a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 240 km/h. Both the EX30d and EX37 are mated to Infiniti’s 7-speed automatic transmission and drive all-wheels via Infiniti’s intelligent all-wheel drive system. Infiniti claim average fuel economy of 8.5 L/100km for the EX30d and 11.3 L/100km for the EX37.
The Infiniti M is the manufacturer’s large sedan offering. Using aluminium construction to save weight and an aerodynamic design that boasts a drag coefficient of just 0.27 Cd, the rear-wheel drive sedan promises generous passenger space and luxury, combined with an entertaining driving experience. Initially only available with Infiniti’s V6 turbo-diesel engine, but in either GT, GT Premium, S or S Premium spec levels, the M30d offers performance figures of 0 – 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds and a limited top speed of 250 km/h. The petrol-powered M37 will follow later in 2012 and is slightly faster from 0 – 100 km/h (6.2 seconds), but is as quick as the M30d when going flat-out. Infiniti claim average fuel economy of 7.5 L/100km for the M30d and 10.2 L/100km for the M37.
Arguably the sleekest and most desirable of the range, the G Coupe and G Convertible offer GT, S and S Premium grade luxury, paired exclusively with the brand’s 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine. The Infiniti G37 Coupe takes just 5.9 seconds to reach 100 km/h from standstill and its top speed is limited to 250 km/h, similarly, the G37 Convertible achieves the same in 6.4 seconds and is capable of the same top speed. Average fuel economy is 11.4 L/100km for both rear-wheel drive models, which are equipped with Infiniti’s 7-speed automatic transmission.
It goes without saying that all Infiniti models meet the highest safety standards, with all manner of active and passive safety equipment, ranging from the obligatory ABS, EBD, ESP, 6 airbags and ISOFIX child seat anchor points as standard. In addition, Premium models are equipped with Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC) with Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), Forward Collision Warning (FCW) and Infiniti’s Around View Monitor (AVM).
Is Infiniti likely to shake up the establishment that is the German ‘Big Three’? It’s unlikely, but Infiniti is expecting to sway around 250 new owners by the end of the financial year. Does Infiniti have unique looking products, genuine luxury appeal and build quality to match its rivals? Indeed. Support from Nissan South Africa goes some way to establishing their ‘peace of mind’ motto, but the rate at which South African’s tuck-in to Infiniti’s range of vehicles and the extent to which they soak up their hospitality, remains to be seen. We’ll bring you more news on the Infiniti story, as well as reviews of the new cars, as and when they become available.
|Pricing (incl. VAT and CO2 Tax)|
|Infiniti M37 GT||R649 000|
|Infiniti M30d GT||R671 000|
|Infiniti G37 Coupe GT||R616 000|
|Infiniti G37 Cabrio GT||R699 000|
|Infiniti EX30d||R595 000|
|Infiniti EX37 GT||R626 000|
|Infiniti FX37 GT||R676 000|
|Infiniti FX30d GT||R699 000|
|Infiniti FX50 S Premium||R856 000|
Prices include a 3-year/100 000km warranty, roadside assistance and 5-year/100 000km service plan.