The Graz-based company has been producing the likes of the Aston Martin Rapide, Peugeot RCZ and Mini Countryman, and will now build the compact Infiniti for a 2014 launch.
The Infiniti brand launches in Australia later this year, and is certain to be keen to add the model that will become a rival for the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Lexus CT200h as well as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class with which it will share its platform.
Mercedes parent company Daimler formed an alliance in 2010 with Renault-Nissan, parent company of Infiniti, that will include the deployment of Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder and V6 engines in some models such as the Infiniti M sports sedan and the entry-level car that will be based on the 2011 Infiniti Etherea concept.
Infiniti is expected to get Mercedes’ new MFA small-car platform for its most affordable vehicle. MFA is underpinning a whole range of baby Mercs, including the just-released B-Class, upcoming A-Class, a four-door ‘coupe’ that has been shown as the Concept Style Coupe, a compact SUV likely to be called BLK or GLC, and potentially a baby sports car.
“This new vehicle represents a significant opportunity for the Infiniti brand to reach new consumers and grow in key markets such as Western Europe,” said Andy Palmer, Nissan’s executive vice president who assumes responsibility for Infiniti. “We are pleased to be working with Magna Steyr to realise this important product.”
The use of the MFA platform means the small Infiniti will be front-wheel drive, with an option to have all-wheel-drive variants.
Infiniti hasn’t confirmed which markets outside of Europe will sell the entry-level model, though the expectation is that it will be available worldwide as the brand targets growth in the luxury car segment.
Magna Steyr, the European arm of Canadian company Magna International, has already started work on the Infiniti project.
Reports say Magna can produce 50,000 to 60,000 units of the compact Infiniti annually.