Infiniti is confident that its upcoming medium-sized luxury SUV based on the QX Sport Inspiration Concept will become the lynchpin on which it will build solid and sustainable growth over the next few years.
Unveiled as a show car at the Beijing Auto Salon in April, the 4.6-metre long crossover is rumoured to wear the Infiniti QX50 badge when it arrives in Australia in the first or second quarter of 2018.
Production will commence later next year, possibly at a new joint-venture plant with 3.1 percent stakeholder Daimler in Mexico.
Squaring off against the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, and Volvo XC60, it will finally expose Infiniti to a booming segment worldwide.
In Australia, the over-$60,000 medium luxury SUV market has jumped over 50 percent in just the past 12 months alone.
Espousing Infiniti’s “Powerful Elegance” styling language also seen in the newly released Infiniti Q60 sports/luxury coupe, the QX50 features a long bonnet and sleek silhouette to give it some visual aggression in an increasingly crowded sector.
Other details are scant about the production version right now, though we hear that it might be based on a variation of the Mercedes MFA modular transverse engine architecture devised for the German company’s A-Class, B-Class, and GLA-Class, as well as Infiniti’s own recently released Q30 its Infiniti QX30 crossover cousin. This means front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive configurations.
Engines are likely to be 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol and diesels, as well as the brand’s 3.0-litre turbo V6.
According to Infiniti Cars Australia managing director, Jean-Philippe Roux, the new contemporary look will naturally help people gravitate towards the brand in the way they previously did not.
“Infiniti’s design consistency is vital,” he said. “First with the Q60, next with the QX Sport Concept … they adhere to this. People will then be in a position to say ‘Hey! This is an Infiniti’, and it connects them with the Q30 and QX30 too.”
As a result, Roux hopes, the QX50 will usher in the next phase of the company’s growth plans in Australia.
“Stage One was coming to market in 2012 with the G37/Q50. Stage Two is this year, with the release of the revised Q50, all-new Q30/QX30 (luxury hatchback and its crossover sibling), and now the Q60, and in 2018, Stage Three. This is where the takes us to the next level of volume and brand awareness.”
Though January to October sales in Australia are up 45 percent over the same period in 2015, they are from a very low base, spread over six model lines, and add up to just 661 units.
In contrast, Audi has already just cracked 20,000, BMW is flying high at 24,349, while Mercedes-Benz leads the luxury marques with 34,198 sales – or 29,860 if the commercial vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Vito are excluded.
Land Rover and Lexus, meanwhile, are at 11,585 and 7941 respectively, so Infiniti still has a huge amount of ground to gain.
“We still have a lot of work to tell the Infiniti story,” Roux admitted. “But this will give us the boost we need.”