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The Chinese market love extended-wheelbase variants of luxury vehicles – mostly because many of its buyers prefer to be driven around in their cars rather than doing the driving themselves. Looking at just how popular Rolls-Royce EWB variants are for their Ghost and Phantom leaves no surprise that other luxury automakers such as Infiniti are lengthening their cars for the Chinese.
The luxury Japanese automaker will be following in the footsteps of rival Audi A6L, BMW 5Li, Mercedes-Benz E300L, and Volvo S80L. Infiniti will be offered a stretched version of its M37 sedan, lengthening it by 5.9 inches for the Chinese market. Unfortunately for Infiniti though, the M37 isn’t built in China unlike its competitors variants, so it could dampen its chances of success.
Nonetheless, it’s almost a necessary move for Infiniti in order to capture any sort of the market in China. The extended-wheelbase M37 is expected to debut at the Beijing Auto Show in April, and chances are a hybrid version will come shortly after.
The 2012 Infiniti M35h Hybrid, the brand’s first hybrid vehicle, has been rated at 27 mpg in the city and 29 mpg highway, while returning 350 horsepower from its V6 engine.
With a net rating of 360 horsepower when the hybrid system is taken into account, the M35h should offer a good blend of power and fuel economy when it goes on sale in the spring. The 7-speed automatic transmission should also provide a nice alternative to the Lexus GS450h and its CVT gearbox.
Infiniti‘s M37 and M56 sedans, the largest of Infiniti’s 4-door offerings, get a minor price bump for 2011, with the MSRPs rising $250 and $350 respectively.
The 2011 M37 and M37x will now retail for $46,500 and $48,650 while the M56 and M56x will cost $58,775 and $61,275. The price increases are fairly standard for a new model year vehicle, and with M sales up 45 percent year on year, they probably aren’t in danger of losing any customers.
Nissan has chosen the Tokyo Auto Show to debut the next generation of the company’s top-level Fuga luxury sedan. Sold in North America as the Infinti M, it’s not clear if Nissan plans to offer the same 3.7-liter V6 (M37) and 5.6-liter V8 (M56) engine choices. Nissan will, however, deliver a hybrid model, similar to the M35 Hybrid that the company announced yesterday. Engineered comletely in-house, this new hybrid model promises increased performance with increased fuel economy and will use a lithium-ion battery pack, combined with an electric motor and Nissans 3.5-liter V6 engine.
In a sign of what is to come with the new Infiniti M37/M56, Nissan has said the new Fuga will contain several “worlds first” technological innovations.
GALLERY: Nissan Fuga/Infiniti M
While we all wait patiently for Infiniti to bring news that the Essence Concept car, (unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this month), will go in to production, a small part of it is already scheduled for use in upcoming models.
The Essence features a twin-turbocharged direct-injection 3.7-liter V6 and while those turbos aren’t going anywhere, Infiniti has told Car & Driver that the upcoming M37 sedan will get direct injection. This might not sound like much, but the technology should easily boost output to the 350hp range and significantly improve fuel economy – possibly by as much as 20 percent.
Currently the M35 gets 16/20 mpg (city/highway) and with direct injection those numbers could be improved to 18/22 mpg.
The direct-injection V6 is also expected to find it’s way in to the G37 model once it is due for a mid-cycle refresh. And you can be sure the same powerplant will be used in a mid-cycle update for the 370Z.
Infiniti Essence Concept
[Source: Car & Driver]