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Over the years, Infiniti has grown and changed with the times

On November 8th, 1989, Nissan released a new luxury line for the North American marketplace: Infiniti. With an initial opening of 51 dealers, Infiniti offered two new vehicles: The performance-oriented Q45 sedan and the sports-oriented M30 coupe. Since that time, numerous new lines have been created with some success while others have disappeared.

Infiniti G20 sedan From a historical perspective, the Q45 was built through 2006 while the M30 coupe/convertible ended production in 1992, but came back in 2003 as a mid-sized RWD V8 sports sedan based upon the Nissan Gloria. The G20, a compact FWD sedan based upon the Nissan Primera, was released in 1990 and was offered through 2002 when it was replaced by the RWD G35. The J30, a RWD sedan based upon the Nissan Leopard, went into production on April 7, 1992 and lasted until 1997. The I-Series FWD sedans, based upon the Nissan Maxima, were released in 1996 and sold through 2004. Infiniti's first
SUV, the QX4, based on the Nissan Pathfinder, was released in 1997 and the moniker is continued today with the QX56.

In 2003, Nissan took a new direction with Infiniti in that all Infiniti products were to be RWD or AWD, thus the G20 was no longer offered and the I35 was destined for just one more year. Since 2003, Infiniti has released a newer and highly successful G-series lineup, continued with the full-sized QX SUV, rejuvenated the M-series as a sport sedan (sister car of the Nissan Fuga) with both a V6 and V8, and has added the FX mid-sized SUV and EX crossover. Styling, luxury and performance has allowed Infiniti to create its own market of enthusiasts and admirers.

Over the last few years I have had a chance to have numerous conversations with Sales Managers and Finance Managers at various Infiniti Dealerships. These discussions range from future products, current sales within today's economy, and Infiniti product history. From these conversations I get some insight as to their perspective of Infiniti products, and the direction and changes that Infiniti has gone through over the years.

First off, they all appreciate the vehicles that encompass the current product lineup. They see the G35+ series as THE defining vehicle which kick-started the success of Infiniti today. They were all disappointed with Nissan's decision to release the GTR as a Nissan product, but do understand the reasoning (and do hope the rumors of a GTR-style Infiniti sedan are true). They see some gaps in the current lineup that could be filled and they miss some of the products that Infiniti no longer sells.

Thus, from a sales perspective, the general consensus has been that gaps were left in the lineup when Infiniti decided to drop the I-series and not offer a newer edition of the G20. From a I-series perspective, being based off the Nissan Maxima, I really don't see that vehicle being a viable option for Infiniti today, and they do agree. The current Maxima has already been brought more up-scale and offers similar packages and conveniences as Infiniti has within their product lineup and there is really nowhere to go with that style of vehicle within Infiniti today. From a G20 perspective, they would love to see a replacement as the dealerships found that car to be quite profitable and they would like to see something offered to fill that gap, the compact- sedan market.

Now, we know the G20 of past was replaced by the 2003 mid-sized G35 sedan (simply base upon the letter "G"...sound like Sesame Street). The Infiniti G35/G37 is the sister car of the Nissan Skyline 350GT/370GT in Japan. Also available in Japan is the Skyline 250GT which comes with a smaller 2.5L V6 AWD. With a smaller motor, this car was capable of achieving 38mpg during a road course "eco challenge" event, quite a nice accomplishment. With the cost of gas expected to increase, this may be a viable vehicle in the US market. But, it's not the gap-filling car that the Infiniti personnel I spoke with were interested in. What they would like to see is a small RWD (to follow the current Infiniti lineup) luxury sedan. With such a vehicle they feel they could pull in sales from those who have historically looked elsewhere for such vehicles.

I've given this "gap" some thought and understand where the dealerships are coming from. The original G20 was a Nissan Sentra-sized vehicle and there is currently nothing of that size being offered by Infiniti. Should Infiniti offer something along the lines of a baby-G sedan, with a mid-200hp eco-4 motor, Infiniti could have another hit on its hands.

Does Infiniti have something in the works to fill this void? Unfortunately, I have not heard of this being a path that Infiniti is following and Nissan currently has no viable-sized AWD vehicle to convert into an Infiniti product. Based on future models, Infiniti is investing further into the "green movement" and will be offering a hybrid M in 2011 which should be followed by hybrid versions of other vehicles within their lineup. While this is a great step forward for Infiniti as a whole, I, like the personnel I spoke with, would hope a new vehicle will be released to allow these dealerships to fill the driveways of potential owners wanting a smaller and more economical Infiniti offering.

At this point it's a waiting game and only time will tell.

Article by: Matthew Moody, Nissan enthusiast and Adminstrator at Nissan Infiniti Car Owners Forum.

Information Copyright 2000-2009 by Matthew Moody
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