It will cost from $83,900 to park a new Infiniti FX in your garage.
The upscale Japanese brand is making big promises to match its meaty pricetags, aiming straight at the pacesetters in the luxury class.
People who like BMW-style performance and Lexus-style pampering are the targets in Australia. The hero car for the aggressive upstart is the FX crossover, but there is also the M sedan from August and the promise of as many as 10 new models – starting with a compact hatch shared with Mercedes-Benz and priced from $50,000 – inside five years.
Infiniti refuses to set sales targets, or get specific about much beyond its first three dealerships – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane – and four start-up cars, but is still talking up its chances. “These are bold cars. We’re a performance luxury car, we’re not a traditional conservative car,” the head of Infiniti Australia, Kevin Snell, tells Carsguide.
“We don’t do base models that are under-powered. We’re not going after low-spec or low-power prestige brands that are bought for the badge, these are cars for people who want to drive.” The FX SUV is the headliner for Infiniti, with prices that run from $83,900 for an FX 37 GT with 3.7-litre V6 through – for now – to $94,900 for the FX30d with 3-litre V6 turbo-diesel. But there will eventually be a FX50 at $114,900, complete with a 287 kiloWatt V8.
The mid-sized Infiniti M sedan starts with a 3.7-litre V6 at $85,900 and runs to the M35 with 3.5-litre V6 hybrid power train at $99,900. Late in the year there will also be G coupe and convertible models, with prices still to be revealed, although Australia will not get a G sedan until the arrival of an all-new model in around 18 months.
But Snell confirms a Lexus-style approach to equipment levels, with full-loaded specification sheets – big wheels, punchy audio, leather, bi-xenon headlamps and much more, across the Infiniti family. There are a couple of extra equipment packs, but Infiniti is avoiding a never-ending BMW style list of options.
“We think the FX looks best with 20-inch wheels, so that’s what it has. Standard,” Snell says. He also trumpets a four-year warranty package with premium roadside assistance that even includes family breakdowns in non-Infiniti cars. But there is nothing from him on the tough stuff – numbers.
“We’re not trying to sell thousands of cars in our first year. It’s three dealers and four cars,” he says. “It’s a controlled launch. We’re going for a trickle-down approach. I’m not going to give a specific sales number.” But, in reality – and BMW style – Infiniti is going first for the early adopters who are prepared to splash their cash for something new and different and – perhaps – a bit special.
“We’re a ‘challenger’ brand. Modern and progressive. We believe we’ve got the product and the brand,” Snell says. So it’s BMW on the driving front and Lexus for customer service, with the Japanese brand in the cross-hairs. “We want to be the number one alternative to the established European makes. I can’t control what Lexus does, but I can control what we do.”
Snell prefers to forget the first failed attempt to bring Infiniti to Australia, back in the late 1980s when it went up against – and lost to – Lexus, which had its first LS400 against the Infiniti Q45. “We were in Australia once before, but only with one car. It’s a very different brand, company and market.”
Snell is aggressive and ambitious and he knows he is going to have a lot of Infiniti cars in coming years. So he’s talking big but prepared for a long battle. “We’ll build the network over 5-6 years, build the range over 5-6 years, build the awareness. It’s a long-term strategy,” he says. “This is just the start, just the tip of the iceberg, of what Infiniti is going to offer over the next 4-5 years.”