Maybe it’s time for Infiniti to shy away from using only alphanumeric names.
After all, it isn’t exactly the best time for consumers looking into luxury cars. They might as well attach sexy names to the vehicles, right?
Yet Infiniti holds firm, presenting a lineup of high-quality vehicles with the intent of competing with Lexus, BMW, Acura and Audi.
Infinity and Beyond
Infiniti was born in 1990 as Nissan’s luxury division – as Acura is for Honda, and Lexus for Toyota.
The Japanese automaker continues to shoot for the best in quality and performance.
In its earliest years Infiniti models were not known to be overly exciting. In fact, the biggest criticisms were about their blandness.
That is starting to change. The entry-level G35 in 2003 helped boost sales, and the Q45’s implementation of high technology proved a wise move.
In fact, the Q45 was the first Infiniti model to do well in the American market. Its considerable power – 278 horsepower in the early 1990s – four-wheel steering and the first active suspension system on a motor vehicle wowed U.S. motorists.
Luxurious interior features also caught attention.
All of the company’s current coupes, sedans and crossovers are based on the Nissan FM platform, which centers engines behind the front wheels, improving balance and handling.
Becoming More Competitive
Infiniti continues to aim for the highest in quality and performance. In recent years the company began adapting to American motorists’ tastes.
The entry-level G35 was followed by Infiniti’s crossover sport utility vehicles, the FX35 and FX45.
But the G35, Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 2003, is the model that positioned Infiniti to truly battle the BMW in the market.
An indication of how the company has grown to American tastes is the fact that the world’s largest-volume auto dealership is an Infiniti lot in Coconut Creek, Florida.
How did it happen? For a variety of reasons, including injecting some high technology into automobiles.
For example, the new M45x, Infiniti’s top-line sedan, is stuffed with cabin technology. The company offers an optional Technology package, and even an Advanced Technology package.
What helps Infiniti compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW is price. Where for a large luxury sedan you might be looking at upward to $100,000, the Infiniti M45x is sold for around $60,000, with all bells and whistles.
What’s the Deal With the Letters and Numbers?
The company names its models with one letter for coupes and sedans, two letters for SUVs.
For example, the QX56 SUV has a 5.6-liter engine. There are some exceptions, such as the QX4 SUV and its 3.3-liter engine, but mostly Infiniti sticks with alphanumeric names matching body styles with engine size.
If there’s an “x” after the name, that means sedan with all-wheel drive. An “s” indicates a sport package.
Not long ago, around the turn of the century, the company was prepared to fold. Then, Infiniti rededicated itself and focused on a powerful assortment of sporty luxury vehicles.
This started with a majorly redesigned Q45 for the 2002 model year, and then the G35 was a hit in 2003.
Infiniti in 2004 added an all-wheel drive version of the G35 sports sedan to compete with the numerous all-wheel drive sports sedans that were popping up from competitors at the time.
The company’s vision in recent years has been to become the “Japanese BMW”. It’s well on its way.
The M35 and M45 were named the best luxury sedan by Consumer Reports.
In 2008 the company unveiled a new version of its G coupe, the G37, as well as the EX35, a compact crossover.
Both the G35 and EX have a 3.5-liter, 306-horsepower V6 engine. One thing most high-end Infiniti models share is large engines.
Not necessarily the most popular during these fuel-efficient times. But then again, neither are alphanumeric names.