Magna will build the entry-level Infiniti based on Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 19, 2011

Infiniti’s entry-level model will be developed by Canadian-Austrian auto supplier Magna Steyr, company insiders say. Infiniti is Nissan’s premium brand. It’s expected that the supplier and the carmaker will finalize an assembly contract early next year for the production at Magna's factory in Graz, Austria. Automotive News Europe reported that the Infiniti model will be assembled on Mercedes's MFA architecture, which underpins the second-generation A- and B-class model lines.

Sources said that Daimler will supply many preassembled "complete parts" to Infiniti, indicating a deepening of Infiniti’s 20-month-old alliance with Renault-Nissan.

None of the automakers have confirmed this report. Internal planning indicates that the Graz plant will produce around 50,000 to 60,000 units a year of the Infiniti model. Sources say that the cars will be exported worldwide and will be built with Mercedes's four- and six-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines. The Infiniti compact will be positioned against the BMW 1 series and Audi A3. Infiniti's Etherea concept car provided a preview of the design of its future entry-level model when it was unveiled last March at the Geneva auto show. This compact is a vital aspect of Infiniti's growth strategy.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that Infiniti’s sales are expected to more than triple to 500,000 units by March 2017. If it hits this target, Infiniti say that it would make up around 10% of the global luxury segment. Infiniti's largest market is the U.S., followed by China.

Selecting Magna Steyr as its contract manufacturer means that Nissan will end plans to begin its own production facility for Infiniti in Europe. Using Mercedes parts means that Infiniti will be able to avoid the risk of big development costs. What Mercedes gets in exchange are licensing fees for every built vehicle and it also gains from economies of scale.

As designed, the new A-Class is gifted with an exterior distinguished by defined edges and tautly drawn surfaces. Its sides feature a harmonious and distinctive interplay of light, thanks to the smooth mix of concave and convex surfaces. Expectedly, the long V-shaped front end of the A-Class is marked with a radiator grille donning the central Mercedes star with double slats to either side.

This grille is bordered by its elegantly designed headlamps – considered as a key element of the design concept along with the configuration of their light functions -- and additional air intakes on the sides. Mercedes arranged the light modules and LEDs in a manner that creates the distinctive "flare effect" for the daytime driving lights and indicators. This “flare” is basically comprised of the LED modules for the daytime running lamps, the bulb sets for the indicators and the feature line within the headlamp.

The new A-Class also has a "dropping line" on the side profile that dispels towards its front end. Its front structural edge above the wing falls -- in a gentle arc -- on this dropping line towards the rear. Its roof, meanwhile, boasts of smooth surfaces and taut curve that best exemplify a great interplay between dynamic design and outstanding aerodynamics.

The roof also features a spoiler that conceals all aerials but also lends a sporty touch and provides structure to the roof assembly. On the other hand, the new A-Class has a silhouette that perfectly exposes smooth lines finishing in a flat edge, with a beltline that rises to the rear to create a more pronounced wedge-shape.

Furthermore, the car’s side view is marked by sculptural side panels and crisp lines with the dynamic shoulder muscles above the rear axle helping highlight the coupé-like nature of the new A-Class.

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