Infiniti, a car that overcame several challenges

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/18/2006 | Auto and Trucks

Infiniti was introduced by Japanese car maker Nissan in the US to take on the bestselling Lexus and Acura. The initial series of Infiniti cars were similar in make to the Nissan cars. Today the Infiniti series are made using superior engineering technology with powerful engines, fine suspensions and all-wheel steering.

The naming of the models follows a certain protocol unlike other brands. The coupes and the sedans start with a single alphabet which is followed by a number that denotes the engine rank. For example, the brand model Q45 is a luxury coupe or sedan that has a 4.5l engine. Two alphabets followed by numerical denotes a luxury SUV with the engine capacity. If the model name is followed by an x like in the case of the Infiniti G35x, the car boasts of the added feature of an all-wheel drive.

The companys initial foray was not successful. Part of the failure was blamed on the companys advertising campaign, which talked less of the car and more of trees and environment.

However, the company gained a foothold in the luxury segment with the production of the Q45. The car sported a powerful 278hp V8 engine and a four wheel drive. It was the first model where an active suspension was introduced to ensure better performance. In 1997, it offered the first mid-luxury SUV called the QX4. Stylish interiors that were done using the best quality materials and the ability for off road driving made it the most popular car among consumers.

The main rivals of the brand were undoubtedly the Mercedes, Lexus, Audi and Cadillac.

The company faced a severe setback during the 1990s when its cars fell behind Lexus and Acura, and came to be ridiculed as the Japanese Lincolns.  Severe financial problem within the company and the introduction of a better engineered BMW added to the companys woes. The company swung back with the introduction of the newly redesigned and constructed G35 with the features of all-wheel drive added in 2004. This beautifully designed sports car was a bestseller. The next in line was the luxury SUV FX45.

The company launched a new luxury cum utility segment car in 2006 named Infiniti M. The features of its earlier bestsellers like Q45 and G35 were blended to make this car. The engine is an all powerful 4.5-liter DOHC V8 and has a 5 speed automatic transmission.

A wireless Bluetooth system and a vehicle information system that is read on the crystal clear 7 inch LCD screen are the hi-tech features of this new series. The car also supports programs like voice recognition and TPMS. An exclusive feature present in the sports car is the rear active steering system.  This program assists the driver by improving the performance of the car by changing the rear suspension angle depending on the speed and steering data available.

Besides the US, Infiniti is also available in Canadian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and South Korean markets. It also plans to launch the care in European, Chinese and Japanese markets.