Infiniti could follow Japanese rival Lexus by entering the premium small car market that's currently dominated by the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
Sales of compact hatchbacks from upmarket brands are expected to outstrip those of larger saloons such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series in 2010.
'We are aware of the downsizing trend and the smaller car category is a subject for us to study,' says Toru Saito, the head of Infiniti.
Infiniti's small electric car
Lexus will enter the small hatch class with the hybrid CT 200h at the start of next year, while Infiniti, the premium car arm of Nissan, has already announced plans to build a small all-electric car probably based on the underpinnings of the forthcoming Nissan Leaf.
Now, however, there is the possibility of a conventional-engined small Infiniti as well. 'We are looking at all the available engines within the (Renault-Nissan) alliance,' says Saito.
'A four-cylinder engine is something we are studying, but for the short- and mid-term our cars will continue with V6 and V8 engines. If we do decide to make a small car it will still be an Infiniti.'
On the all-electric car, Saito said: 'It will be a compact four-seater and will definitely not be a niche car. We will be looking for quick market penetration with this model.'