Infiniti at the Paris motor show 2008Thu, 02 Oct 2008
By Ben Pulman
02 October 2008 09:35
Infiniti kicked off its Mondial de l'Automobile on the eve of the show by opening its Parisian dealership, the brand's first showroom in Western Europe. Sales started in Russia in 2006, but this was our first taste of how Nissan is going to scale Fortress Premium.
On the Avenue de Versailles, in an understated (and perhaps – whisper it – sterile bland) showroom and slap-bang next to a BMW dealer, executive vice president of Nissan Carlos Tavares outlined Infiniti’s ambitious expansion plans and confirmed new models for Europe.
The range starts with the G37, which comes as a 3-series rival in saloon and coupe form, and our first drive of the latter confirmed it as a credible BMW rival.
Both models will be joined by the folding hard-top convertible in mid-2009. It also features the generic 3.7-litre V6 with 316bhp, but the roof splits into three parts and tucks away neatly, while a seven-speed automatic is on the options list.
There’s also an X3-sized EX37 and an X5 challenger in the shape of the FX, which has just been made more appealing by the announcement of the less ruinous 3.7-litre V6 joining the 5.0-litre lump.
Well, it’s not diesel (but V6 oil-burners are promised for the EX and FX in 2010) and it’s not the G37 Convertible. Although the folding hard-top is Infiniti’s only new model on the horizon – the FX37 is merely a new engine variant – the convertible's show debut is being saved for sunny California and the LA show in November 2008.
And we’re still waiting for Infiniti in the UK. Since its launch in 1989, Infiniti sales have predominantly been in the USA, so left-hand drive cars are coming to mainland Europe now, with 25 dealers promised in the coming year. Unfortunately the uk has to wait till mid-2009 before we see Infinity dealerships on our shores. Deliveries of customer cars will commence at the same time, while a total of 14 UK showrooms will be open by mid-2010. We can't wait.
We like Infinity's cars, they're a credible BMW rival. We just wish diesel power and UK dealerships would arrive a little sooner.
CAR's Infiniti show score: 3/5
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By Ben Pulman