Infiniti Centre: our first visit
* We try out UK's newest brand * Customer service promise put to the test * We've ordered a car...
You don't just buy a car from Infiniti Nissan's upmarket division and the newest brand to enter the UK market you become part of 'the Infiniti Experience'.
Likewise, you're not a customer but a 'guest'. Infiniti is promising to follow the Lexus example and treat you in a manner befitting someone who is about to spend a large amount of money on a luxury item.
This all sounds too good to be true, so we decided to put it to the test by visiting the Infiniti Centre the first of 13 that will be established in the UK by 2012 just outside Reading.
Entering the Infiniti Centre is more like walking into a fashionable hotel than a car dealership. I only just stopped myself from handing the receptionists my passport and asking for a smoking room.
There's light-coloured stone and dark brown woods, and leathers with accessories in purple the Japanese imperial colour. It's all meant to convey the discreet hospitality for which the Japanese are renowned.
The 'consultants' they don't call them sales executives here sit away from the main 'gallery' in open booths. Their style is informality. You'll be approached only if you want to be.
Having decided to buy, you'll be led to the configurator a large virtual reality screen that lets you see the car you want in any colour and trim combination from any angle.
Then it's off to one of the booths with the consultant in my cas Nigel Spragg who will be your personal point of contact throughout your period of ownership, to go through the online ordering process.
What did we order?
So, what have we ordered? A G37S Coupe in Moonlight White with Graphite leather upholstery, optional seven-speed automatic gearbox, intelligent cruise control and brake assist, plus the multimedia pack (rear-view camera, DVD sat-nav and Bose 10-speaker stereo): on-the-road price 40,250.
However, because we don't want to wait three or four months for it to be built and shipped from Japan, we've decided to take a demonstrator, which means we'll have it in about three weeks. It'll give us a chance to go through the Infiniti Experience all over again.