It's make or break time for Nissan's luxury division.
It wasn't all that long ago that Nissan nearly killed off Infiniti altogether. Why? Because the luxury division had repeatedly failed to find an effective and long-term way to differentiate itself against the competition. The luxury car business is brutally competitive, and without a design and performance breakthrough, Infiniti wouldn't stand a chance against everything from Germany, Lexus and Cadillac. Fortunately, there have been some signs of hope: Infiniti hired Audi’s former US boss to run things.
Johan de Nysschen had been at the helm of Audi of America for 19 years, so he knows a thing or two about the business. Aside from renaming the entire Infiniti lineup, de Nysschen clearly understands that high-performance is essential for a luxury brand. Lexus learned that a few years ago- and look at the results today. Infiniti styling has also begun to take on a more daring tone than usual, while still managing to maintain its definitive look. Perhaps the best sign of good things to come is the Q50 Eau Rouge Concept that was unveiled at Detroit. Powered by a V6 with over 500 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque, this is exactly what Infiniti needs more of.
It’s bold and powerful and has real presence. de Nysschen also cancelled a previously planned EV based on the Nissan Leaf. Yes, Infiniti was once planning to do a rebadged Leaf. Instead, de Nysschen is intent on building a halo car on par with the likes of the Lexus LFA and Audi R8. Like we said, the man knows what he’s doing. Let’s hope he succeeds, otherwise Infiniti could go the way of Acura (with the sole exception of the new NSX). We'd hate to see that happen.