A chance to get his hands on the UK’s newest range of cars was too much to resist for Motoring Journalist DAVID HOOPER, editor of wheelworldreviews.co.uk, reports on his first acquaintance with Infiniti.
IF you appreciate the finer things in life, but don’t like to follow the crowd, then a range of cars which is new to the UK could be right up your street.
If, for you, Range Rovers have become a bit rustic, A Porsche Cayenne is too pretentious, Mercedes-Benz MLs and BMWs are, well, too German and Audis are simply too common, then this eye-catching new model will not only turn heads, but get people talking as well.
Most won’t recognise the logo, which looks like a Star Trek communicator badge – unless they holiday regularly in the States, where the brand has been on sale for over 20 years. In this country, you are more likely to see a Buzz Lightyear toy on a car boot stall than you are one of these cars on our roads, with only around 120 having been sold so far.
It’s called Infiniti, and while the sales figures are small, they are beyond initial expectations, which were limited by the fact the company launched the car in this country with just one dealership, in Reading. Now there are four, in Picadilly, Birmingham, and Glasgow, with more planned for next year, including Leeds and Stockport which will be closest to our area.
Exclusivity then, is guaranteed for the time being if only through the limited numbers, but you will feel like royalty if you choose to buy one, as the company has put a strong accent on excellent customer service and value for money.
The cars are well in executive territory, with prices for the range starting from £31,200 for the entry level G37 four-door saloon, and rising to over £50,000 for the top of the range FX models.
Where Infiniti currently differs from other premium manufacturers however, is in that they only offer one, highly-specified model. In other words, whichever car you choose, there is no options list, it’s all included. So while someone buying one of Infiniti’s rivals may start ticking the options boxes to get 21in alloy wheels, or satellite navigation, the Infiniti has it all as standard, so instead of an expensive tick-box exercise which could easily add in excess of £20,000 to the invoice figure, the Infiniti customer can sign on the dotted line knowing they are getting value for money.
The range was launched with powerful V6 petrol engines, but crucially for the UK market, a smooth V6 diesel has now joined the line-up, which will certainly help the brand achieve its ambition of doubling its sales in the next year. It’s still small numbers in the scheme of car sales figures, but Infiniti is in no rush. “We are only launching these cars in the UK once, and we are doing it right,” the company’s global PR director told me. “There are just 10 dealers in Europe, but more are on their way, as they are in the UK”.
There are also several more models on the way. Infiniti has just signed a deal with Mercedes-Benz to supply four cylinder petrol and diesel engines for future models which will see Infiniti venturing into Audi A3 territory. There will be an all electric car, sharing the Nissan Leaf’s technology in 2013, and a Hybrid V6 petrol electric model next Spring.
But so far, half the company’s sales volume has been the most expensive car in the range, the FX, and it was one of these I drove briefly at a test-drive event in Leeds, powered by the important V6 diesel.
The FX is a big, luxury cruiser, which gives a comfortable ride. The V6 engine is smooth and powerful and will see off the 0-62mph sprint in 8.3 seconds. The 7-speed automatic gearbox operates smoothly, and the car is a comfortable place in which to travel.
The interior is very plush, with Infiniti badging stitched into the front seats, and the dash display looking particularly impressive, with clear instrumentation and a cracking sat-nav system.
I also drove the slightly smaller EX, in GT Premium trim. Again, as plush as anything you care to mention, everything felt well put together, but this model, for me, was the nicer car to drive. Obviously a bit lighter, it felt stiffer and a more sure-footed on the greasy roads that we get to enjoy at this time of year, and its body control was better – noticeably less wallowy.
It also looked stunning in its brilliant white paintwork, perched on smoked 21in alloys.
If exclusivity, turning heads and getting noticed is what you’re into, then have a look at Infiniti. It’s currently the UK’s newest brand offering some interesting cars – and it promises a lot more exciting new models to come.
To Infiniti and beyond?
Watch this space!
THE VITAL STATISTICS
From G37 (£31,200) to FX 50 S Premium 5dr (£56,400).
ENGINE: 3.7-litre V6 petrol or 3.0-litre diesel.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.