What’s that you’re driv­ing?

The Jewish Chronicle - - Motoring - BY STU­ART BLADON

IT’S NOT of­ten that the JC is able to say “wel­come” to a com­pletely new mar­que, but this month we can hail the ar­rival of an ad­di­tion to the lux­ury car mar­ket — In­finiti, a new divi­sion of Nis­san. Made in Ja­pan, In­finiti is well es­tab­lished over­seas, but is only now com­ing to Bri­tain.

Th­ese are ex­trav­a­gantly-fur­nished and equipped lux­ury mod­els, with seven-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, in­cor­po­rat­ing “pad­dle” up-down change switches be­low the steer­ing wheel. In most ver­sions, a 3.7-litre V6 petrol en­gine, de­vel­op­ing 317 bhp, is the stan­dard power unit. Com­mon to most of the range is four-wheel drive and many mod­els also fea­ture four­wheel steer­ing, for im­proved cor­ner­ing and han­dling.

Prices be­gin at £30,300 for the stan­dard four-door sa­loon — the G37 — and body styles in­clude coupé, con­vert­ible, and FX (a cross-over be­tween es­tate and large hatch­back). The con­vert­ible has an in­ge­niously fold­ing metal top and cer­tainly looks stun­ning — al­though, when low­ered, it doesn’t leave much room in the boot for lug­gage.

Right at the top of the range, at £53,800, is the FX50S cross-over, the only one not pow­ered by the 3.7-litre V6 en­gine. In­stead, it has a 5-litre V8 giv­ing 386 bhp, which gives for­mi­da­ble ac­cel­er­a­tion.

In­finiti, ad­mit­tedly, is not for the econ­omy-minded mo­torist — the claimed thirst for the FX50S is 21.6 mpg and on a brief and rather de­mand­ing test run it showed 19.7 mpg. The 3.7-litre ver­sion is rated at 23.4 mpg, but ac­tu­ally re­turned 28.2 mpg when driven mod­er­ately in slow traf­fic. A diesel ver­sion is to be added next year.

The first deal­er­ship for this new mar­que is on the A33, just south of Read­ing, but cen­tres at Birm­ing­ham and Glasgow will fol­low soon, with eight more to open later.

An­other sig­nif­i­cant au­tumn launch is Kia’s lat­est cee’d (sorry, I still think it’s a weird name). As be­fore, the three-door ver­sion is called Pro_cee’d, and the es­tate car is cee’d SW.

Sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments have been made to its en­gine ef­fi­ciency, with the in­tro­duc­tion of au­to­matic en­gine stop at traf­fic halts.

This sys­tem has been avail­able on Citroëns, Volk­swa­gens and oth­ers for some time, but Kia ar­ranged a test route through the cen­tre of Liver­pool tak­ing in ev­ery pos­si­ble traf­fic light junc­tion, to demon­strate how stop-and-go works.

As soon as the car comes to rest and the gear is in neu­tral, the en­gine stops, start­ing again the mo­ment the clutch pedal is pressed. It was sur­pris­ing to find that in a 7.6-mile route through the cen­tre of Liver­pool, tak­ing 40 min­utes, the en­gine was off for a to­tal of 11 min­utes.

Ob­vi­ously this brings real ben­e­fits for those do­ing a lot of driv­ing in heavy traf­fic, but ini­tially the EcoDy­nam­ics pro­gramme is avail­able only for the CRDi ver­sion with the less-pow­er­ful of two 1.6-litre diesel en­gines, cost­ing £14,195. Diesel en­gines come with a sixspeed gear­box; petrol ones come only with five-speed and tend to be a lit­tle more fussy when cruis­ing, though both en­gines are ex­tremely quiet and smooth.

Kia is anx­ious to stress one thing about its cars that has not changed — the ex­cep­tional seven-year 100,000mile war­ranty. There are three trim lev­els, with prices start­ing at £11,595.

En­gine stop at traf­fic halts is also a fea­ture of Audi’s new A5 Sport­back, show­ing that even a man­u­fac­turer of high-per­for­mance sports cars is tak­ing econ­omy se­ri­ously. But en­gine stop­start is avail­able only on ver­sions with man­ual trans­mis­sion.

The name Sport­back sounds pres­ti­gious — but it’s just a five-door hatch­back, re­ally. At the rear, the Sport­back has a huge tail­gate, which opens eas­ily and joins up with an ab­bre­vi­ated,

Nis­san like you’ve never seen it be­fore: the lux­u­ri­ous five-seater semi off-roader, In­finiti FX37 V6 3.7-litre

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