If ever there was a premium brand with an identity crisis, it’s Infiniti. Originally, they were conceived as Nissan’s answer to Lexus. A few years of working this angle produced some disappointing cars (does anyone remember the G20 or the J30?) and even more disappointing sales results. Cars that really did rock (the Q45, for example, or later, the M45) didn’t sell particularly well despite Infitniti’s attempts to reposition themselves as a performance and luxury brand. We Americans didn’t seem to understand the marque until Infiniti finally hit their stride with the G35 series of sedans and coupes, which offered a good blend of performance, luxury and affordability.
Now it seems they’re out to confuse us again, this time by announcing a front wheel drive coupe to compete against Audi’s A3. Past Infiniti models such as the G20 or the I30 were FWD, but that was before Infiniti reinvented themselves as a performance oriented luxury brand. Of course they sell the occasional SUV, too, so maybe we need to think of them as a full line manufacturer who offers performance, luxury and versatility in their product mix. I’d just like some direction on what order those adjectives should be in.
In any case, the new FWD coupe will be designed for the Euopean market, so we may not even see it on this side of the pond. It will be smaller than their current G series, and MotorAuthority tells us it will take styling cues from last year’s Essence concept car. I’d expect the new FWD Infiniti to focus more on luxury and technology than on outright performance, but it’s far too early to tell what direction the automaker will go in. This time.