When it comes to new cars Australians really are spoiled for choice. There are more brands on sale here than in any other developed country with new brands continually making grand entrances such as Infiniti.
For some car makers, Australia is now seen as a test market for the rest of the world. The strong dollar and our willingness to try new brands are just some of the reasons we have more than 60 marques and more than 300 models to choose from.
Few new arrivals make such a grand entrance as Infiniti, however. Nissan’s luxury brand is back in Australia after a brief appearance between 1993 and 1996 with a A$140,000 limousine. The brand was withdrawn after modest sales but the company never stopped trying to find a way back.
It might be new to many Australians, but Infiniti has been around for 22 years in North America and now has eight models on sale in 46 countries.
This time around Infiniti has a much stronger chance of success, arriving with four models in key market segments: a coupe, convertible, executive sedan and a luxury SUV. It even has a hybrid in the line-up, which is among the fastest petrol-electric sedans in the world. More new models are just around the corner with six new cars coming between 2014 and 2016.
In the meantime, given our appetite for luxury “softroaders”, it’s the SUV that will underpin Infiniti’s revival and initial growth here. The SUV accounts for more than half of all Infinitis sold locally since the relaunch in August last year.
The FX range of SUVs starts at a little over A$80,000 and stretches to A$115,000, which undercuts similarly-sized European SUVs. It does so without scrimping on equipment. All models come fully loaded. Indeed, the only option is metallic paint (A$1,500).
There are three models in the FX range: a V6 petrol, V6 diesel and a flagship V8 that’s almost as fast as a Porsche Cayenne, but at a fraction of the price.
The performance of the V8 partly explains Infiniti’s desire to give the FX a dramatic appearance. If the sleek headlights and bulging “eyes” conjure images of a racehorse in full stride, you’d be right. That was part of the inspiration for the designers. They argue that SUV drivers love the tall driving position and clear view of the road ahead (similar to the vantage point of horse riders), but the FX has the agility and pace of a thoroughbred. Design-speak can be a little tortured at times but in this instance you can almost see where they’re coming from.
The sleek design is backed up by the refinement of the fit, finish and materials used. Infiniti cars sold in Australia come from Japan, long viewed by the car industry as the quality benchmark.
That just leaves customer willingness to try a new luxury marque. “The first people to buy our cars don’t care what the neighbours think,” says the boss of Infiniti Cars Australia, Kevin Snell. “They’re the people who take the risk. They’re early adopters, the innovators, the influencers. They like the fact the neighbour wouldn’t have bought it or the neighbour wouldn’t approve.”
Fast Facts: Infiniti FX
Price: From A$83,900 to A$114,900
Engines: 3.0 V6 petrol, 3.0 V6 diesel,5.0 V8 petrol
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Warranty: Four years/100,000km
Know more: infiniticars.com.au