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Line-up refresh coming for Infiniti SUVs

Big duckling: The curiously-styled QX80 was introduced in July last year, but an update is already chalked for the vast SUV.

Infiniti planning SUV range update and new mid-size model addition

28 Sep 2016

INFINITI Cars Australia is carefully considering its next next significant update for the constantly evolving local range, with the growing range of SUVs under the spotlight for a refresh and possible new additions.

With the recent arrival of the QX30 crossover, the Japanese luxury high-rider range now extends to three models – including the QX70 and QX80 – but the company says there are gaps that can be filled and updates on the way for existing offerings.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the QX30 small crossover, Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux outlined the company’s future SUV strategy and the changes that can be expected over the coming years.

While the company now offers choices at the extreme ends of the spectrum, Mr Roux acknowledged that the mid-sized SUV segment was “absolutely” important and a contender was in the company’s plan.

“We would need something in the middle to fill the gap,” he said, but Mr Roux explained that constantly evolving demand meant that what form a mid-sized SUV would take was still being decided.

“The market is changing as well so it might be a crossover but it’s not fully confirmed just yet.” In the United States, the company already offers a QX50 and Mr Roux said that the availability in right-hand drive for the UK “potentially” increases its chances for Australian introduction in its next evolution.

If a QX50 is confirmed for Australia, the QX Sport Inspiration concept that rolled out at this year’s Beijing motor show gives the best idea of what a production model may look like.

“That was a concept for a mid-sized SUV and we are looking at different options for what can be the next generation of crossovers,” said Mr Roux.

In the upper-large-SUV segment, Infiniti offers the Nissan Patrol-based QX80 behemoth and, while the model has polarised consumers and pundits alike with its love-or-hate looks, Mr Roux said he was happy with its performance and a significant update was planned.

“We’ve been surprised by how that car is going and we are looking at an evolution of QX80 and we will give you a bit more news next year.

“When we launched QX80 people came to us and said ‘what the hell are you doing’ but that was in the context of when we only had three dealers, we had very limited media in the market but we used it as a confirmation that we have a long-term commitment to Australia.

“We’re pleasantly surprised by the car and dealers love the car and we are looking at an evolution and it’s quite a good evolution of the product.” Despite differing opinions regarding the QX80’s aesthetics, Mr Roux explained that its looks were what mainly attracted the existing customer base along with its massive seating capacity.

“The look and design is what is driving people to our showrooms because our cars look different and we have to do things differently.

“Australia being Australia, from a premium perspective, customers are looking for that kind vehicle big premium eight-seater.” Between the mighty QX80 and bantam QX30 is Infiniti’s sportier QX70 SUV which was introduced globally in 2008 before its Australian launch in 2012, but Mr Roux said the model posed a conundrum for the company.

While it is at the end of its life cycle, its design continues to attract interest, according to Mr Roux.

“Again from a design perspective it is driving people into showrooms. The design is still very fresh.” Despite the satisfactory sales performance, Mr Roux revealed that the QX70 was also in line for an update. “We are looking at evolutions, nothing we can confirm currently but it’s still a good looking vehicle,” he said.

The company has also previously commented on the possibility of another addition to the SUV range, the US-focused Nissan Pathfinder-based seven-seat QX60.

Infiniti has stated that the cost of developing a right-hand-drive version was prohibitive at the moment, but confirmed it would revisit the possibility when the model entered development in its next generation.

For its passenger-car range, Infiniti is about to add a pair of turbo V6 variants to its Q50 sedan line-up and they will be followed by a new flagship Q60 coupe later in November this year. They will join the new Q30 – its smallest model.

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