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Taking a Q from luxury rivals

Published January 3, 2013

Cue the Infiniti. Or should we say “Q”?

Infiniti recently announced a new, simplified nomenclature for its model lineup — one that pays homage to its original vehicle, the 1989 Q45 luxury sedan. This alpha-numeric rejig could also make the luxury arm of Nissan a shoe-in for the next Bond film.

All 2014 Infiniti cars, to be introduced though 2013 will carry the prefix “Q”, and SUV/Crossover offerings will start with “QX”. As such, the luxury sedan formerly known as M becomes the Q70, the G in coupe and convertible form becomes the Q60, and the upcoming luxury sports sedan to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show this month (it replaces the G37) will be named the Q50.

Continuing with the theme, the EX Crossover becomes the QX50, the JX becomes the QX60, the racy FX is now the QX70, and the full-size luxo-barge QX begets the QX80.

While this may seem like a confusing move — we all pretty much know our “G”s from our “M”s from our “EX”s — Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, points out that Infiniti is at a crossroads.

“Infiniti is currently a U.S.-centric brand and we are now on a mission to become a global brand,” he said. “As such, we need a nomenclature that can clearly communicate the brand’s hierarchy in new markets.”

Infiniti is embarking on a strategy of globalization that in 10 to 15 years, as de Nysschen posits, will position the marque as one of the prominent providers of performance/luxury vehicles worldwide. In other words, they’re gunning for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi. Just like back in 1989.

To that end, there will be a full-size halo sedan above the current M, er Q70, as well as smaller more fuel-efficient premium “entry-level” offerings.

Unlike with the current naming system, the new Infiniti numbers bear no relationship to engine displacement or power. The higher the number, the more senior the vehicle. Engine downsizing is the way of the future, and de Nysschen observes, “Customers aren’t comfortable going from a 56 to a 20.” Secondary badging on the fender will denote engine displacement and type.

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