16 August 2007

Infiniti plus one

All-new EX will spearhead the Nissan luxury brand's invasion of Europe

Nissan Infiniti EX

The name Infiniti might not ring too many bells on these shores (unless you're thinking about that Matthew Broderick film from the mid-90s, in which case you watch too many movies).

But that's set to change next year as Nissan's luxury brand - think Toyota and Lexus and you're in the right ball park - is gearing up for an all-out assault on Europe.

And the car spearheading the invasion is this, the Infiniti EX. Described as a 'all-wheel-drive coupe crossover', the EX has just been launched at the chic Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California for the US market, but it's due to reach Europe by autumn next year.

It's a good-looking car, too. The Infiniti FX is one of the best-looking SUVs in the world, and its little brother does just as good a job in putting the current crop of bloated soft-roaders to shame.

With stubby overhangs and a coupe-esque roofline, it's going down the same line as the Audi Q3 concept - only this isn't a concept, it's reality.

One of the EX's niftiest - and just slightly scary-sounding - features is something called 'self-healing clearcoat paint'. Yes, it's paint that fixes itself!

Infiniti says fine scratches will repair themselves over time, thanks to an elastic resin in the paint. We sense a Top Gear Chisel Challenge coming on.

We also like the sound of the EX's Around View Monitor, a four-camera system that eliminates blind spots when parking by giving the driver a 'top-down' view of the outside of the car. Of course, being ninja parkers we wouldn't have need for such a system, but we sense the potential WAG customers might find it useful. 

Make no mistake, the EX will be priced firmly in WAG territory when it goes on sale over here. Although there's no firm word on prices, Infiniti has flagged up top-spec versions of the BMW X3 and Audi A4 quattro avant as potential competitors. In other words, it won't be cheap.

The EX is being launched in the US with a 3.5-litre V6 under the bonnet - a slightly downrated version of the 350Z's powerplant. Although Infiniti can't confirm at this stage whether it'll be the same engine powering the EX in Europe, we reckon it's a fairly safe bet, though there's always the chance that a diesel might work its way into the line-up, too. 

Infiniti's European rollout will see the EX joined by the Skyline-related G saloon and coupe, and an FX replacement next year, while the M - an E-Class competitor - will augment the range in 2010.

We wouldn't bet against Infiniti doing big business over here, either. Expect to see a whole lot of Infiniti over the next few years.

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