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by James Stanford

Infiniti has revealed its upcoming BMW 3 Series rival will be rear-wheel drive.

It has also confirmed for the first time that the new prestige G sedan, which will be a core model in the Australian line-up, will make its public debut at the Detroit motor show next January before going on sale a few months later.

Infiniti raised eyebrows back in March when it confirmed it was developing a new small car based on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class, making it the only front-driver in the Infiniti line-up.

However, Andy Palmer, the vice president of Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, has told CarAdvice the new G will not follow down the same path.

“We are rear-wheel drive from G up,” Palmer said.

“This generation G, next generation G and the generation after that will be rear-wheel drive.”

Rumours had swirled that the new G was going to further the Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti link and be built on a C-Class platform, but Palmer made it clear when asked if that was the case.

“Incorrect,” he said. “It is a pure NML (Nissan Motor Co Limited) development.”

However, Infiniti will use some Mercedes technology in its new sporty sedan in the form of engines.

Two Mercedes turbo diesels including a punchy 3.0-litre V6 and an unspecified four-cylinder unit will give the G model extra breadth, along with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol unit, also from Mercedes.

Nissan’s 3.7-litre petrol V6, which serves in the current G car will be reworked and upgraded for the new model.

The new G will be the most important car yet for Infiniti and is at the centre of a growth push by the brand, which is keen to increase its global sales from a projected base of 200,000 this year to 500,000 by 2016.

Infiniti global president, Johan de Nysschen, told CarAdvice the G is crucial.

“The car is at the epicentre of the Infiniti brand today and it is a key model for the volume plans we have set,” he said.

Nysschen is confident it will do well.

“The new G will be delivering volumes for us at a level that’s never been done by its predecessors.”

Palmer was enthusiastic in his praise for the car, which will take on the new Infiniti design language as previewed by a range of concept cars including the Emerg-e concept (pictured above) that was unveiled last month.

“It’s the most beautiful car I’ve been associated with in 30 years in the automotive industry,” he said.

“It is the symbol of the new Infiniti.”

The G is expected to spawn a number of derivatives including a sporty two-door coupe and a crossover.

As for the new compact car, Palmer and Nysschen are unapologetic about the fact that the power will be fed to the front wheels only.

“Up to a point rear-wheel drive makes a lot of sense, I guess the dividing line comes around that C-segment/E-segment divide. Below that rear-drive doesn’t make sense.”

“It is (down to reduced) weight and cost (of front-drive),” Nysschen said.

“There are packaging compromises (with rear-drive),” he added.




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