The big news on the Infiniti stand at the Geneva motor show is as much about the company's new diesel as the new executive M saloon it powers.
What is it?
This 3.0-litre V6 from the Renault-Nissan alliance, which is also scheduled to go into Infiniti's EX and FX SUVs within the next few months, allows the company to compete on a more level playing field with Germany's big three premium brands.
In Europe, diesels account for 36% of sales of EX-sized cars with engines of more than four cylinders. In the FX category, that figure rises to 83%. 'Diesel is a mandatory requirement for Europe,' says Infiniti's manager of crossover vehicles, Olivier Remaud.
The diesel delivers 235bhp and 407lb ft of pull and, while projected figures suggest it won't be quite as clean as BMW's comparable V6 diesel for CO2 emissions, it should be fractionally better than the equivalent Jaguar- Land Rover unit.
M saloon (pictured)
The M saloon will be the first to get it, in October, but a month or so before then Infiniti's new executive saloon will arrive in the UK with a 3.7-litre petrol V6. There'll also be a hybrid with a 3.5 V6 and electric motor at the start of 2011.
The M is a front-engined/rear-drive saloon, and some versions will have four-wheel steering. One standard feature will be a drive mode selector with four different settings eco, standard, sport and snow to change the engine and transmission mapping and, where appropriate, the responsiveness of the four-wheel steering.
Infiniti is claiming big improvements in comfort, quality and safety. The interior is the company's most luxurious to date, both for craftsmanship and equipment. There is also what's being hailed as 'one of the most advanced ventilation systems on any car in Europe': it's called forest air, and controls both the movement and purity of the air in the cabin.
Infiniti also says the M has 'a dynamic safety shield' to try to prevent accidents, or protect occupants if they are unavoidable. It includes a world first feature called a blind spot intervention system: this will help pull the car back into its own lane if it suspects the driver might be about to pull out into the path of something approaching from behind.
Infiniti describes the M as a 'more indulgent' car than the German trio of Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Jaguar XF and Mercedes CLS owners are other people Infiniti is targeting.