Mike Stevens | Mar 1, 2010

NISSAN AUSTRALIA HAS re-affirmed its commitment to returning its Infiniti luxury brand to the country, with the business case for bringing the marque here close to being approved.

Plans to bring Infiniti back to Australia have existed since 2006, but the recent global financial crisis stalled the project.

However, speaking with TMR at last week’s 370Z Roadster launch, Nissan Australia Managing Director and CEO Dan Thompson said that Infiniti is still a high priority for the company, and that an official announcement on the brand’s future in Australia is expected to be made late this year.

Rather than competing with fellow Japanese luxury marque Lexus, Infiniti will instead use its sportier image to position itself against BMW, with pricing expected to undercut the German rival.

Four model lines will initially be offered: the G (which comes in sedan, coupe and convertible guise), the M (a 5 Series-sized sedan), the EX medium crossover and the FX large crossover.

Diesels, which Mr Thompson described as “critical for this market”, will be offered in the EX, FX and M, with the Renault-sourced V9X 3.0 litre V6 turbodiesel – which develops 175kW and 550Nm – to be the engine of choice.

Although the M56 and FX50 are offered with potent V8s overseas (the M56’s 5.6 litre engine produces 298kW), it’s not yet certain whether such models will be sold in Australia.

However, the excellent 245kW VQ37VHR 3.7 litre V6 that already powers the 370Z will see service as the standard petrol engine for all four models.

Nissan Australia plans to launch Infiniti as a stand-alone brand, rather than piggy-back dealerships off existing Nissan showrooms.

Once approval is given, the process of establishing a dealer network and a head office will take between 12 and 24 months, meaning the first cars won’t go on sale until late 2011 at the very earliest.

When shipments of new G’s, M’s, EX’s and FX’s eventually arrive in Australia, it won’t be the first time Infinitis were sold in this country. The brand made its first foray into the Australian market in the mid-1990s with the Q45, a V8-powered luxury sedan that failed to sell well – largely due to its hefty asking price.

Dan Thompson says future Infiniti imports will be priced well below their European competitors, and offer greater value thanks to more generous standard equipment lists.

Click here to read TMR's review of the 2008 Infiniti 370GT (offered in the US as the Infiniti G37 Coupe).

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