Tony O'Kane | Dec 15, 2011

Infiniti is reportedly close to finalising the design of its upcoming entry-level hatchback. Three designs are currently in competition with each other, and reports from Europe say that a final decision will be made in January.

Due for a 2014 debut, the Infiniti hatchback will give the Japanese luxury brand an entry-level model to rival the BMW 1 Series, Lexus CT 200h, Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

It will have more in common with the A-Class than just its size, too, for the new Infiniti hatchback will be based on the Benz's front wheel-drive platform and possibly share some of its powertrains.

Technical details of the entry-level Infiniti have yet to surface, but everything from turbocharged petrol fours to hybrid powetrains to a transverse V6 have been rumoured.

The Etherea concept (pictured), which debuted at this year's Geneva Motor Show and previews the Infiniti hatch, featured a 182kW 2.5 litre supercharged petrol engine and an electric assistance motor, which is expected to power the next-generation Nissan Altima.

Whether such a potent powertrain gets the nod for Infiniti's small car has yet to be confirmed.

The new hatchback is just one of many new Infiniti models that are expected to arrive in the near future. An all-electric sedan has been confirmed for a 2015 debut, while an electric sportscar with a range-extender is anticipated to follow soon after.

A replacement for the current G sedan will arrive sometime around the middle of the decade, too.

Infiniti will return to Australian shores next year, launching with the FX SUV, the G37 coupe and convertible and the M mid-size sedan.

There's no word as yet about the addition of an Infiniti-badged hatchback to the local range, but with the current crop of luxury hatchbacks enjoying good success in Australia we'd say there's a strong business case for such a car Down Under.

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