What’s that you’re driving?
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