By on October 21, 2013
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Infiniti Essence concept

Andy Palmer, who is in charge of global future product planning for Nissan, says that the company’s Infiniti luxury brand is considering a sporty four door flagship to compete in the segment defined by the Porsche Panamera. A likely candidate would be Nissan design chief Shiro Nakamura’s Infiniti Essence concept first shown at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show. However, an Infiniti flagship would not reach the market before 2017. It would be part of Nissan’s goal to grow Infiniti into a global luxury brand by the end of the decade.

Infiniti has not competed head to head with European luxury marques in the S Class or 7 Series segment since the early days of Nissan’s luxury brand and the original Q45. Instead Infiniti has built its brand around a lineup of sporty sedans, coupes and crossovers. “We can’t just take on the opposition directly,” said Infiniti chief Johann de Nysschen while speaking to Automotive News. “We have to bring our own unique flavor to the global market.”

“We won’t do a Merc S class or that type of car,” said Palmer. “We have had that before. We want a flagship car that’s appealing and different.”

While they say they don’t want to make a S Class clone, because of contractual agreements between Nissan and Daimler the Infiniti flagship could be based on Mercedes-Benz’s latest modular MRA rear-wheel-drive architecture.

Sources say that Nakamura and his team are working with the Essence’s proportions and roofline so the basic shape will be retained while adding two more doors and more interior space.

The new flagship is not a given, a business case still has to be made for it. “We have the halo car in the plan, but it is not signed off yet,” said Palmer. “The sales of [sedans] like the Q50 and SUVs like the QX60 will have to be going well and then I can go to our approval committee.” The new 4 door coupe would possibly be named the Q100, the same moniker given to Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull F1 car, which Infiniti sponsors.

Infiniti Emerg E concept

Infiniti Emerg E concept

The new flagship would be part of a $6.46 billion plan to make Infiniti a significant player in the global luxury market, with a target of earning a 10% share of that market by 2020, about half a million cars annually. The current lineup is being updated and rebranded and another five models will be added to Infiniti showrooms.

Should it be greenlighted for production, the flagship will possibly be joined by a mid-engined hybrid supercar based on the Emerg-E concept, to serve as a halo for the brand’s sportier cars.

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35 Comments on “Infiniti Considers Four Door Coupe Flagship to Take On Porsche Panamera, Hybrid Midengine Supercar to Follow...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Fail.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Seems very unlikely this will actually play out. They need to flesh out their main models and get their design language a little bit more cohesive across the board – then talk about a halo. A halo, which by the by, would need to be significantly cheaper than the alternatives, because Infiniti doesn’t have the prestige of a Porsche or a Quattroporte.

  • avatar
    PriusV16

    Get rid of the overly funky C-pillars and the equally overdone headlights, and this Essence concept car is a winner, styling-wise.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      As a sports coupe, yes, but shouldn’t a flagship model be an aspire-to sedan? I don’t see any way to make a sedan out of the Essence without ruining the styling.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    I have no problem with Infiniti creating a model to compete against the A7, 6 Gran Coupe, CLS, Panamera, or Model S. This is where the glamour is in the luxury car market. But these are no flagships.

    My armchair quarterbacking advice is to do the Q100 as a 4 door coupe, keep the massive dash to axle ratio of the Essence concept car, but make it flagship-huge. Like Cadillac Sixteen huge. Put it on a truck chassis if you have to. It might even create a new luxury niche. Just don’t try to compete head-on, because the brand equity just isn’t there yet.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Mega-gasp. The design concept is eye-gasmic!

  • avatar
    Bocatrip

    Infiniti had their big comeback and surge with the G35 sedan and Coupe. Since then they have not really done much, other than refresh these models which have become somewhat stale. They still sell and are a good value, but the excitement is pretty much gone even with the newest refresh of the G35….. the Q50.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      I had a first gen 6MT sedan. It was a better built, massively more reliable 3-series for less money. Awesome car, especially after dealing with a piece of crap BMW.

      But the market has changed. The only RWD cars you could get for less than a BMW back when the G35 came out were the old Mustang, a 350Z or a Miata (with the last two limited to two seats). Now we have the:

      Mustang
      Miata
      370Z
      Camaro
      Challenger
      FR-S
      BRZ
      Charger
      300
      Genesis Coupe
      Genesis sedan

      And those are all cheaper when similarly equipped, and in many ways better, than a G37 (ugh, Q50/Q60).

      Infiniti has the high cost structure of Japanese manufacturing, so it cannot easily compete on price even if it wanted. So now instead of being a value player it has to try to be a prestige player. That is a tough mountain to climb.

  • avatar
    ash78

    This sounds like effectively what the FX-series already did. Face it — nobody took that “Cheetah-inspired styling” offroad, it was just a big sports hatchback. Unique, eye-catching, and if made into a carlike design, could easily have continued to fill this niche.

    Apart from the short-lived M-series brought over from Japan for 2 short years in the early 2000s, the FX will always be the quintessential Infiniti to me: Bold, “f*ck you” styling with little practical value. It’s a shame they went and build that dinky little EX hatchback* after that. Sort of diluted the whole idea, but that’s business.

    *don’t tell me it isn’t a hatchback, either. The first time I saw one, it was parked next to a Versa. Their dimensions were oddly similar.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      I’m not sure why Nissan made the Murano convertible, when an FX convertible would have made more sense and looked a hell of a lot better. The pricing would be justified, and the jump from sports car crossover to convertible crossover seems reasonable.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Well good luck in competing with the Panamera. The only reason I can see that people buy that car is because of the P-O-R-S-C-H-E lettering across the trunk. Nissan can’t duplicate that.

    The original case for the Japanese luxury brands (other than Acura, which has been an odd duck from the beginning) was German luxury-level engineering, parts and materials quality at a lower price. So, you bought a Q45 or an LS400 knowing that it didn’t have snob appeal of a big Benz but also knowing that, for less money, you got a car at least as well engineered, with similar quality appointments, etc. and for less money.
    Lexus managed to establish some brand cachet on the strength of the build and materials quality of the LS 400; Nissan did not with the original Q45. Nissan re-booted Infiniti on the strength of the G35/37, which was a cheaper and somewhat less refined competitor to the BMW 3-series.

    Unfortunately, Japan has lost its price advantage that it had in the 90s and AFAIC, there’s no other reason to buy these cars over their European competition if you’re planning to do a 3-year lease and then turn the car in (as, I think, most buyers of these cars do). Infiniti has made a number of serious false steps, starting with the original Q45, continuing with two successive reboots of the Q45 and the rather undistinguished M35/45, not to mention the bulbous, rough-riding, thirsty and impractical hatchbacks (or SUVs if you want to call them that).

    Lexus, by contrast, hit a home run with the RX SUV and at least a base hit with the ES car.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I take offense to the M35 not being distinguished, as someone possibly buying one within the next couple days to replace my RWD GS. I feel that especially in 08+ reworked guise, it competes very well with the GS, and is a sort of less common alternative. Not to mention it’s priced much better used than the GS (which you have to go 07MY+ if you want to avoid the 1-year 3.0 engine.)

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        No offense intended, but the M35, IIRC has surprisingly little room, given the exterior dimensions, and is both relatively noisy and relatively thirsty for a luxury car.

        And, as my original post I think said, the point of competition is not with the other Japanese “luxury” car; it’s with Germans. So, I really wasn’t thinking whether the M was, or was not, better than the GS.

        I had a friend who shopped that car in, IIRC, ’08 or ’09. He ended up getting an E300 Benz, even though it was more expensive.

        • 0 avatar
          GiddyHitch

          Speaking as an owner, the M35/45 has more of a cockpit feel up front (which I rather like), a generous amount of room in back (with doors that open almost 90deg), and a decently sized trunk (though modern full sized FWD sedans will shame it and most other RWD platforms). If you were paying full bore $55k retail in the mid-oughts, there were better ways to spend your money, but the M is a decently luxurious and well handling car that should have much better longevity than the German competition and be more involving than the GS.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            What has your ownership experience been like as far as any problems? Which model do you have?

            I do agree on the MPG front with regard to any M45 model. I think the M45X is rated 14/18 or something ridiculous. Tahoe-style mileage.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    I have a 2003 Infiniti FX, which has been a great car, I wish I could like the design changes in the past few new models … I just don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I don’t actually dislike the new models, but in my opinion, the best FX’s to get are the first-generation models that were after the MY2006 facelift—which included, among other things, a newer Nissan navigation/infotainment system—but before the MY2009 redesign. My neighbor bought a brand-new 2006 FX35, which someone crashed into and totaled in 2010, so she went out and got a near-identical one. And her daughter recently acquired a first-gen, post-facelift FX35 as well, so now they’ve got two of them parked side by side.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Another concept with 10-series tires and no door handles.

    In a world where product development cycles are shortening, proposing a 2017 launch of a car in 2013 isn’t meaningful or serious.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That’s true. Most people have decided that the upcoming NSX is vaporware. It seriously worries me when Japanese automakers—who are no longer the leaders in anything but reliability and perhaps resale value—talk about foraying into new luxury markets with cars that are designed to be instantly competitive and desirable. BMW and Audi, in particular, have a way of surprising everyone, especially when you’re talking about a release that’s three or four years down the road, against products that are already halfway through their life-cycles. I hope Infiniti is anticipating the competition’s future products. That goes for Cadillac and its upcoming flagship sedan, too…

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    “the Infiniti flagship could be based on Mercedes-Benz’s latest modular MRA rear-wheel-drive architecture.”

    The Chrysler Crossfire comes to mind, a car that not very many people brought and has depreciated low enough to be seen with custom eye lashes on it. Built by Chrysler using dated Mercedes bits and de-tuned engines.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I daresay that Nissan/Renault knows better than DaimlerChrysler did at that the time of the Crossfire’s conception. But yes, it is an eerily-similar situation.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Flagships are irrelevant. Old man cars. The future is in high style cars like the A7. Nobody under 30 aspires to own something like an A8. It’s all about the Range Rovers and CLSs.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Whats the difference between an A7 and an A8 except backseat room in the latter?

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        A8 is aluminum and the A7 (being based on the A6) is steel.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thx Jmo. Evidently all of these models are based on the VAG MLB platform

          Audi A4 (B8) (Typ 8K)[7]
          Audi A5 (Typ 8T)[7]
          Audi Q5 (Typ 8R)[7][8]
          Audi A6 (C7) (Typ 4G) [7]
          Audi A7 (Typ 4G) [7]
          Audi A8 (D4) (Typ 4H)

          So if A8 is the longer all alum version of the bunch, I’m failing to see why there even IS an A7 if its a warmed over A6. So based on SportyAccordy’s argument did everyone under 30 eat lead paint as a child if this is what they are after?

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group_MLB_platform

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “, I’m failing to see why there even IS an A7 if its a warmed over A6. ”

            It looks better than an A6.

            If you’re willing to give up some practicality, you can get a CLS or A7 which are much more attractive than the E-Class or A6 on which they are based.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            No argument about looks but its just not registering for me logically. Maybe its working with [bad] software for so long in the professional sphere.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            There’s nothing logical about a $90,000 car purchase. So considerations like interior room or whatever are kind of meaningless. The intangibles you write off are why the Phaeton failed while the A8 has continued to sell and get updates, despite them being the same damn car. Don’t write off the illogical, the whole luxury market is illogical.

          • 0 avatar
            ash78

            I think, collectively, there are lots of us out there who say “What is the point of the VW CC, Mercedes CLS, Audi A7, etc”

            I scream it from the rooftops. Because in this era of economic austerity and pragmatism, it’s hard for me to stomach that all these car companies are extending into “new” models instead of making the current ones better, cheaper, more diverse, and more appealing. All car lines will have winners that subsidize the losers. I just can’t believe some cosmetic styling–at the EXPENSE of practicality and versatility–is moving so many cars.

            On a related note, I saved up all my Audi model line extension vitriol for this blog post:

            http://taketheoutsideline.blogspot.com/2013/07/audi-to-unveil-decimalized-models-by.html

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “Because in this era of economic austerity”

            The global rich have never done better than they are doing now.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “despite them being the same damn car.”

            The Phaeton is steel and the A8 is aluminum.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I’m just surprised that Audi sells so many VWs, but as far as I know theres far too many uneeded variants that VW builds under their own name let alone Porsche, Audi, etc.

        • 0 avatar
          ash78

          jmo — true, but VAG isn’t building an entire brand strategy from appealing to the 1%. They’re more like the 20% car company. And a lot of that 19% are making less opulent choices than they were 10 years ago.

          I guess that’s where leasing comes in :D

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Infiniti could have just bought Fisker and had this right now.


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