Infiniti revises brand after stellar 2012

Under the new system, the 2013 Infiniti M Under the new system, the 2013 Infiniti M flagship sedan will be known as the Q70. Photo Credit: Infiniti/Scripps Howard News Service

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Infiniti started off by forming a "Q". The Q45's arrival marked the Nissan luxury division's debut in 1989 as a 1990 model. Advertising for the new brand was remarkable in that it did not actually display the car it represented but promoted the idea behind the name "Infiniti."

The new division adopted the name "Infiniti" in 1987, featuring four "i"s, and the badge with two central lines leading off into an infinite point on the horizon.

The Q45 accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds behind a 4.5-liter, V8 engine that produced 278 horsepower. The new sedan presented a serious challenge to European luxury models such as Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Jaguar XJ, as did the new Lexus LS from Toyota and the Acura Legend, the first Japanese luxury car introduced by the Honda division three years before Lexus and Infiniti.

I remember driving the first Q45 on Interstate 25 between Denver and Colorado Springs, a stretch with 75 mph speed limits that I exceeded without sensing the slightest struggle from the powerful rear-drive sedan with the long wheelbase.

To me, the "Q" stood for "Quiet," at any speed. The flagship provided one of the most amazing audio systems, which the maker promoted with a compact disc that included the theme song from the Star Trek series.

Flash forward nearly a quarter century and you'll find that Infiniti is going back to its original concept of the "Q-car."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Dropping its confusing naming convention that includes "E," "G," "J" and "M" models, Infiniti ended 2012 with a plan to identify all of its models with the letter "Q" for sedans and coupes and "QX" for crossover and sport utility models.

Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti, said the new nomenclature came after research involving retailers and customers.

"The need for a new identity and direction to promote consumer familiarity with our model range as we expand the portfolio became evident," de Nysschen said. "We concluded that 'Q' captured the inspiration within the next generation of Infiniti models, as well as emphasizing our performance credentials while harking back to our heritage with the Q45."

Under the new system, the current Infiniti M flagship sedan will be known as the Q70. The current G37 sports coupe will become the Q60.

To kick off the new Q-culture, Infiniti is remodeling its G sedan for the Detroit auto show as the Infiniti Q50. The four crossovers and SUVs will be designated as QX models 50, 60, 70 and 80. Currently, those models are known as EX, JX, FX and QX.

The G-series, which was the second model in Infiniti's fleet after the arrival of the Q45, has come a long way since its introduction as the brand's "entry-level" car. Once equipped with a less-than-impressive four-cylinder engine, the original G20 barely qualified as a luxury car. Today's G37 is one of the most stylish and impressive luxury cars on the road. Generally speaking, Infiniti designers are doing some of the best styling on the road.

The new G37 sedan, designated as the 2014 Q50, will no doubt carry some of the brand's impressive safety and technology features in addition to stunning design.

For 2013, the G fleet includes G37 Sedan Journey, G37 Sedan Sport 6MT and G37x Sedan all-wheel drive. Each comes equipped with a standard 328-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, mated to a choice of 7-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.

Technologies include standard Infiniti Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition, standard 7-inch color monitor display, standard SiriusXM, RearView Monitor and Bluetooth Hands-free Phone System.

Systems that Infiniti pioneered, such as lane departure warning and prevention, add enormous marketing appeal.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

With Infiniti sales up more than 22 percent for 2012, the luxury brand is looking for another image boost under the new nomenclature.

"November was a fantastic month for Infiniti, with sales of each of our crossovers and sport utility vehicles showing an increase and contributing to the best November since we started sales in 1989," said Ben Poore, vice president, Infiniti Americas.

Email Richard Williamson at motorfriend(at)sbcglobal.net.

You also may be interested in: