Infiniti to build new compact hatchback at Nissan’s Sunderland plant

Article by Anita Panait, on December 19, 2012

Infiniti, the luxury brand of Japanese carmaker Nissan, will produce its new premium compact hatchback in the United Kingdom. Infiniti will commence the production of the entry model in 2015 at Nissan's Sunderland plant in England. Nissan is set to invest around GBP250 million ($405 million) in the plant to increase its capacity to around 60,000 Infiniti models annually.

Colin Dodge, Nissan's chief performance officer, said in the statement that the milestone of having its first premium product built in Sunderland reconfirms the carmaker’s commitment to UK manufacturing and the ongoing success of the plant.

The new compact will be targeted towards young buyers mainly in Europe, and it will be competing against models like the Mercedes-Benz A class, BMW 1 series and Audi A3. The new compact was previewed by Etherea concept displayed at the 2011 Geneva auto show.

The car could be underpinned by Mercedes' MFA architecture, which also serves as a platform for the A- and B-class model lines. Mercedes parent, Daimler, has a technology sharing partnership with Renault-Nissan.

Infiniti executives have said that the new model will be different from anything currently available in the premium compact class, and will not just be a smaller version of a conservative luxury car. The new Infiniti premium compact hatchback is being developed with the assistance of Nissan's London design center and its European technical center in Cranfield, England. A volume compact hatchback bound to be produced in the Sunderland plant will now have to be built at other plants.

The Etherea is closer to coupé in inspiration rather than the hatchback. This model designed by a Japan team led by Shiro Nakamura also features several Infiniti flourishes debuted by the concept supercar Essence. However, this elegant profile does not at all sacrifice practicality. Hence, despite its sophisticated look, Ethera managed to boast a hefty lift-up tailgate.

This model also utilizes an in-house platform which is produced for Infiniti. Its long wheelbase and minimal overhangs highlight Infiniti’s sporting appeal and visual poise. Its bonnet may not be a long as the Infiniti’s but its proportions are excellent and its overall look is as balanced as an Infiniti. Some of its shared features also include the distinct crescent C-pillar that offers a unique and dynamic Infiniti trademark.

It also features a roomy four-seat cabin and an unbeatable egress and convenience which is heightened by an H-point that stands higher compared to the other compact luxury cars. It also highlights an unparalleled openness feel with its four broad door openings, rear-hinged back and lack of B-pillar.

A very familiar Infiniti concept design is also developed in order to meet the challenges in the concept car. Its headlights for instance clearly highlight the face of Infiniti. Its lamps with a subtly curving shape integrate the daytime running lights that are formed out from the LED’s crescent. These new lights are set to turn out to be a well-known Infiniti match. Nakamura said that all the other element of this model’s exterior design as well the craftsmanship in its interior are set to stir a remarkable influence on its future production models.

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