Neither Lexus, nor Infiniti will look to compete with BMW and the 5 Series Gran Turismo in the new large luxury hatchback segment. This comes as somewhat of a surprise for both automakers. Sure, Lexus is as traditional as they come, but it did just debut the new CT200h hybrid hatchback (a more entry level offering) at the New York Auto Show. As for Infiniti, it’s never been afraid to be different, as is evidenced by the FX – which is arguably a rival to the BMW X6 and Acura’s new ZDX.
Currently, BMW is the only automaker in the U.S. to offer a big luxury hatchback with the new 5 Series GT. Audi does build an A5 Sportback model, but it’s only on sale in Europe. Recently we reported that Lexus was looking to re-introduce a wagon version of the IS series, but that story came out of Europe and so it’s possible Lexus may only offer an IS wagon overseas.
Asking about a competitor to the 5 Series GT, Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing told AutoObserver, “We don’t have any plans for it right now. We have not seen the demand from our customers — but we continue to look at it.”
The lack of demand seems to be reflected by the folks at Infiniti. According to Ben Poore, Nissan North America’s VP of the Infiniti brand, the company’s research indicates consumers are looking for a traditional trunk.
So until market demand changes, BMW looks to be the only automaker offering a large luxury hatchback in the U.S. – a move that isn’t likely to cost BMW much even if it fails. With the 5 Series GT designed for Europe, where hatchbacks and wagons are widely accepted, BMW can count on strong sales overseas to support a risk in the North American marketplace that may, or may not, pay off.