Infiniti Etherea to use Mercedes chassis

Infiniti Etherea
14 Sep, 2011 10:10pm Paul Bond

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn reveals that production version of the Infiniti Etherea will use Mercedes' new small car platform, which underpins the new B-Class

Is this a luxury match made in heaven? Nissan and Mercedes have unveiled the next stages of their alliance partnership will be in the premium small car segment.

During a combined conference with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche, Nissan Chief Carlos Ghosn revealed that the production version of the Infiniti Etherea premium hatch will be built on Mercedes' new small car platform, and be powered by the German brand's four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines.

Mercedes are planning to launch at least five different models on the new B-Class chassis platform, which is flexible enough to accomodate four-wheel drive, and a variety of different body styles, including a small SUV and four-door coupe, so this opens the possibility of a wave of new Infiniti models in the future.

The Etherea hatch, which will go head-to-head with the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, is expected to make up a huge proportion of the brands European sales, and form a major part of its ambitious plans for expansion, with the aim to capture 10 per cent of the premium market by 2016.

Ghosn also confirmed that the new car (due for production in 2014) will be built outside of Japan, to compensate for the strength of the Yen, making Infiniti one of the first Japanese manufacturers to reveal such a move.

However the Etherea won't be the only Infiniti to get Mercedes powerplants, and a spokesman for the brand hinted that a four-cylinder version of the M saloon could appear by as early as 2013, allowing for a rapid expansion into the company car market too.

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