To Infiniti and beyond... maybe
There’s still no date set for a Perth Infiniti showroom.

If you're dying to rush out to test-drive an Infiniti Q50, hold on a tick - the process is messy.

To get a quick handle on Infiniti, think Lexus - the prestige offshoot of Toyota that has a separate, credible identity worldwide.

Infiniti is Nissan's luxury player and, like Lexus, is priced under the German rivals and focuses strongly on US sales.

American tastes have influenced the emphasis by both car makers on non-turbo-petrol engines and petrol-electric hybrids.

That contrasts with the turbocharged petrol and diesel engines that dominate BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi line-ups.

Infiniti and Lexus keep their ranges simple, with few options but generous specs.

Infiniti set up shop in Australia in spring 2012 in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

There were four models priced from about $70,000, with aesthetics bordering on brash.

On this subject, then Infiniti boss in Australia Kevin Snell told me at the time: "The world doesn't need another 'me too' brand.

"We take risks. We don't care if 70 per cent don't like a model and only 30 per cent do - we'll go after the 30 per cent."

By spring of 2013, Infiniti would have killed for 30 per cent of anything.

The operation had almost stalled, with just 300 or so sales and cuts to price tags by 15 per cent.

Not adding to Australian buyer confidence since then has been the departure, after a brief stint, of Opel.

Buyers who paid full whack for Opels are undoubtedly unamused by the fire-sale prices on remaining stock.

However, Nissan and Infiniti chief in Australia Peter Jones said repeatedly that Infiniti was committed to Australia long term.

He predicted the Q50 - the first Infiniti specifically designed to please global buyers - would prove a turning point.

"The solution lies in the cars that we sell and there will are many more great cars like the Q50 to come," Mr Jones said.

The fresh Infiniti design elements shown in the Q50 include assertive, athletic looks that do not spill over into brashness and, thanks to supply from Mercedes-Benz, debuting are small turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.

The Infiniti entry point is down to just over $50,000, and Mr Jones said even smaller, cheaper models were in the pipeline.

Here in WA - without a dealership - we have the luxury of being able to wait and see.

Only when the initial dealerships have built sustainable businesses will Nissan slowly roll out new sites. It's those new sites - including one in WA in say 2016 - that should give car buyers the confidence to trust Infiniti.

The West Australian

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