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Infiniti Comes to Europe

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Infiniti FX50 Photo: Sean Frego
By Alexander Popple
Nissan’s alternative-luxury brand launches in Europe and debuts its new FX crossover to the world.
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Infiniti FX50 Photo: Sean Frego
Infiniti FX50 Photo: Sean Frego
Click image to enlarge
Infiniti FX50 Photo: Sean Frego
Infiniti FX50 Photo: Sean Frego

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    It’s not every day that you get to launch not just a new car, but a whole new brand — so if there was ever a reason to throw a party, this was it.

     

    An anonymous warehouse on the outskirts of Geneva was the setting for the formal launch of the new FX to the world, as well as the extravaganza to introduce the brand to Europe. To signal the importance of the event, the presentation was given by Carlos Ghosn, head of the Nissan-Renault alliance and one of the motor industry’s most influential and respected executives.

     

    Despite its 20-year history in Japan and the U.S., Infiniti is virtually unknown among European consumers. The Nissan sub-brand offers a characteristically Japanese take on luxury (though it does) — the twist is that it sets out to fill niches that others can’t, or at least don’t.

     

    And that’s where the new FX comes in: Despite its chunky 4x4 styling, commanding driving position, the sleek shape, plush and comfortable interior and car-like suspension make it more of sports coupe with a an SUV-like body than true crossover.

     

    “The feel and handling of a sportscar,” is what Ghosn promises buyers. Think BMW X6 for the nearest equivalent — not a car you’d want to get too muddy, but chances are that it will take you most places you would want to go.

     

    Features on the new FX50 include a 7-speed automatic transmission, a new 5.0-liter V8 producing 500 Nm (368 lb-ft) of torque, standard Bose audio equipment and a host of electronic driving aids for stability, safely, and controllability.

     

    This is the second generation of a car already offered to U.S. buyers; as well as benefitting from updated styling the new version is more aerodynamic, comfortable, and dynamically capable. A V6-powered version of the car will be introduced later.

     

    Other Infiniti Models for Europe

    Other cars available at Infiniti’s European launch will be the G37 sedan and coupe, both sporty compact executives, and the EX37, a low-slung coupe crossover with four-wheel drive, perhaps the most mold-breaking of all these cars. All are based on the same “FM” platform as the FX, have suspension and other components tuned for European tastes, and use a version of Infiniti’s 3.7-liter V6 engine.

     

    And they all come with what Ghosn calls “Infiniti’s total ownership experience... everything works, everything goes smoothly, every last detail is taken care of.” Potential buyers will discover “an atmosphere that is inclusive, warm and welcoming” — by implication, something that the rival brands with their more exclusive reputations don’t offer.

     

    When sales begin in October this year there will be just 25 dealers across the continent, based in urban centers. And they won’t have diesels (vital in Europe) or hybrids until 2010.

     

    With SUVs going out of fashion, the reality that is despite its spotlight status, the FX isn’t likely to be welcomed by many in Europe. But the EX and GX will likely find buyers among the ever-increasing number of luxury car buyers happy to do without the heritage of other luxury brands in order to avoid the image that sometimes goes along with them.

     

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