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First look: Infiniti IPL G Coupe aims at M3

G whiz: Infiniti's first Performance line model is based on the G Coupe.

Nissan luxury brand unveils debut Infiniti Performance Line model

16 Aug 2010

NISSAN luxury brand Infiniti has whipped the covers off the first in a series performance models to tackle models from BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG divisions, and the 2011 Infiniti Performance Line G Coupe could be part of the Infiniti range Nissan Australia hopes to launch here by 2012.

Infiniti’s first IPL model is based on the 3 Series-sized G Coupe and will go on sale in North America in December, after its global reveal at Pebble Beach last Friday night (August 13).

It could headline Australia’s first full range of Infiniti models, which Nissan Australia hopes to launch here by the end of its ‘GT 2012’ strategic plan ending in March 2013.

Rather than producing direct rivals for BMW’s M models, Mercedes’ AMG vehicles or the RS-badged cars from Audi’s quattro GmbH powerhaus, the Infiniti Performance Line will offer models with a modest performance increase and more aggressive looks, much like the factory-fitted components on offer with sports packages from BMW’s M, Merc’s AMG, Audi’s S-Line and the Lexus F-Sport ranges.

The IPL G Coupe offers improved performance in the form of a 3.7-litre petrol V6 delivering 260kW (up 13.5kW on the standard G Coupe, thanks to a high-flow exhaust system and revised ECU with higher 7400rpm power peak), which matches the power output of the 4.2-litre V8 in Audi’s S5 Coupe but falls short of BMW’s 309kW M3 and Merc’s 336kW C63 AMG.

16 center imageLeft: Infiniti IPL G Coupe interior. Below: Infiniti M35h.

While the upgraded G Coupe will transmit the extra performance to its rear wheels via six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions with paddle shifters in the US, the first IPL model will also feature upgraded chassis settings – on top of its more aggressive bumpers, spoilers, side skirts, exhaust outlets and wheels.

The latter will come in the form of new 19-inch seven-spoke graphite-finish alloys with low-profile W-rated Bridgestone Potenza RE50A performance tyres.

To start with, next year’s IPL G Coupe will be available in just two exterior paint (Graphite Shadow or Malbec Black) and two interior trim (Graphite and Monaco Red) colour choices.

In the US, the red interior trim will be available only with the black exterior and an automatic transmission, with further upgrades including red-stitched leather-appointed front sport seats with manual thigh extension and driver's power torso and thigh support adjustment, a red-stitched steering wheel, ‘Silk Obi’ aluminium trim and aluminium pedals.

Completing the 2011 G-IPL coupe picture are more sporting suspension, braking and steering systems, with Infiniti engineers increasing front spring rates by 20 per cent up and rear spring rates by 10 per cent, applying a more direct-feeling steering tune and fitting larger brake discs with aluminium four-piston front and two-piston rear callipers.

The IPL version of the second-generation G Coupe will also come standard with Infiniti’s viscous limited-slip differential (VLSD).

Meantime, Infiniti – which has not revealed which model/s will next receive the IPL treatment – has also revealed that its first hybrid model will come with world-first steering and braking technologies when the petrol-electric M35h large sedan goes on sale in the US and Europe in 2011.

Not counting sedan and new convertible versions of its latest G Coupe model, the M sedan is the only other passenger car in Infiniti’s model range, which also comprises the EX and FX luxury crossovers and the full-size (next-generation Patrol-based) QX SUV.

Dubbed the “driver’s hybrid” and based on the all-new M sedan that debuted at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last year, the M35h is powered by a 3.5-litre version of the 3.7-litre V6 seen in the M37 (as opposed to the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 in the M30d) but adds a 50kW electric motor and dual-clutch system built into its seven-speed automatic transmission.

Infiniti has now announced the M35h will also come with an electro-hydraulic power steering system with “on-demand” assistance that is claimed to offer both the smooth, natural feel of a hydraulic steering system and the fuel-efficiency of an electric system by featuring an electric motor that cuts in only when the wheel is turned.

Infiniti says the M35h’s Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system is another world-first technology that increases efficiency while meeting sporting driving requirements, by employing the vehicle’s electric drive motor to operate the brake cylinders.

According to Infiniti, when the driver steps on the brake pedal the necessary braking force is maintained while the hydraulic pressure of the friction brake is controlled to help maximise the energy regeneration of the hybrid motor.

Nissan’s luxury brand says the Electric Driven Intelligent Brake system’s compact. Lightweight and simple structure gives it the potential to become a key part of all future Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid vehicles because of its simple structure.

The M35h drive system features a one motor/two clutch system comprising one clutch between the naturally-aspirated 3.5-litre V6 and the electric motor, which is embedded within the automatic transmission. The electronically controlled clutch allows the full decoupling of the V6 when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes, reducing mechanical drag and boosting the efficiency of the electric motor.

Infiniti says that, combined with an “exceptionally fast” charge/discharge response from the lithium-ion battery pack, the result is a hybrid that’s electrically powered for more of the time – and at higher speeds – than conventional hybrids.

The new M-Line is the first Infiniti model to be sold in all 34 of the Japanese premium brand’s global markets. While the M30d joins the M37 on sale in October, the M35h arrives in US and European markets by around April next year.

Infiniti also chose this year's exclusive Monterey automotive showcase to launch its new entry-level G25 sedan, powered by a 162kW 2.5-litre petrol V6.

Priced from around $US31,000 ($A34,700) in the US, the rear and all-wheel drive G25 will undercut the most affordable Infiniti currently available, the 3.7-litre G37 sedan.

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