Paul Horrell24 March 2010

Infiniti strikes oil

Nissan’s luxury brand launches diesel offensive. Would punters prefer a hybrid, though?

Infiniti M35 hybrid

At the moment you can get Infinitis only as V6 and V8 petrols, which is part of the reason they sell as fast as bikinis in the arctic. And the upcoming EV is hardly mainstream.

A showroom lifeline is on the way this spring in the form of a brand-new diesel V6 engine. It goes first into the EX and FX sporty crossovers and the brand-new M saloon (it's a BMW 5-Series rival). The diesel makes 238bhp.

Next up, hybrid. The M35 full hybrid (pictured) has a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and a disc-shaped motor between the engine and the auto 'box. It goes on sale in March 2011, which is six months after the M37 petrol and the M30d diesel.

There's more to come. Four-cylinder diesels and four-cylinder hybrids will be fitted to the G saloon and coupe in the next couple of years.

Interesting that diesels are so important to Infiniti, while Lexus is running away from diesel as fast as it can. The next-generation Lexus IS won't come with a diesel option, unlike the current one. Lexus is convinced hybrid is the way to go, as shown by its hybrid-only RX, as well as its upcoming Audi A3-rivalling CT200h which will also be a hybrid only.

We can't help thinking Infiniti's more pragmatic approach will put fewer people off. Or do you reckon Lexus will eventually drag all economy-minded buyers around to the idea of giving up diesels in favour of hybrids? Comments below, please.

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of Top Gear magazine

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