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by Tim Beissmann

Infiniti is getting its own version of the Nissan Juke, though the new premium quirky crossover isn’t headed to Australia.

The Japanese luxury car maker has revealed it will launch a Juke-based model called the Infiniti ESQ – teased in four tightly cropped images that appeared on Chinese website Autohome – but says the car will be available exclusively in China.

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Infiniti global communications manager Stefan Wienmann told US publication Autoblog the ESQ would join the long-wheelbase versions of the Q50 and QX50 as market-specific models offered only in the Chinese market

“[The company is] expanding [its] portfolio not only globally but also specifically in China,” Wienmann said.

He said Infiniti saw “specific sales opportunities” in the compact crossover segment, adding that the ESQ “enables us to gain experience in positioning a new premium model to the ‘new millennials’, a customer group that is very important to us”.

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As revealed in the images, Infiniti’s version of the Juke will retain most of Nissan’s bodywork and garnish it with a unique grille, Infiniti and ESQ interior and exterior badging, and new alloy wheels. A more upmarket interior with new trims and higher quality materials is also expected.

Fitting of its premium status, the Infiniti ESQ will be powered by the 147kW/250Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine of the Juke Nismo, with Infiniti bypassing the Juke’s entry-level powertrains. Reports suggest it will be paired with all-wheel drive with a torque vectoring system.

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Oddly, the ESQ bucks Infiniti’s recently introduced naming structure, where passenger cars are badged ‘Q’ and SUVs ‘QX’.

Speculation suggests the ESQ may merely be a stopgap until Infiniti readies the compact Q30 hatch and QX30 crossover models, which will be sold around the world from 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The Infiniti ESQ is set to launch in China later this year.




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