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Infiniti Introduces All-New Performance Brand

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On: Wed, Mar 9, 2016 at 4:33PM | By: Carl Malek

Infiniti Introduces All-New Performance Brand

Infiniti has high hopes for the recently unveiled Q50 Red Sport 400, however, the Red Sport 400 will have a lot more on its plate than just making a good impression when it arrives. According to statements from Infiniti, it will also herald the debut of an all-new performance brand that is set to wage war with BMW's M division and Mercedes-Benz and their in-house AMG performance division.

Currently Infiniti is not in a position to take on both of these vaunted performance marques, but, according to Infiniti executive Keith St. Clair (who serves as the company's director of U.S. product and strategy), the Red Sport will help jump start the process and serve as an opening salvo in Infiniti's plans to steal precious sales away from its German rivals. These plans will include making Red Sport for other models in the Infiniti model range. "This car will introduce the red S badging here," St. Clair told Automotive News. The red S badging in question will be located on the tail of the car as well as the side panels, which will help distinguish the model from the lesser sport trim that is available on the 300-horsepower variant of the Q50. Those models feature silver "S" badging and lack some of the high performance goodies that make their appearance on the uplevel Red Sport 400 model.

"This is the new strategy of our sport lineup in the future," St. Clair added. "Whenever you see the red S... it means the car gets a different power train, and typically a different suspension and different brakes than the vehicle it supersedes." In the case of the Red Sport 400, the model gets staggered 19-inch wheels, Dunlop performance tires, as well as new exhaust tips to go along with its model-exclusive red paint work, and the 400 horsepower V6 engine. The Red Sport designation also ends the brand's original IPL designation (Infiniti Performance Line) which it started in 2011; Infiniti used the name on the G37 coupe and had plans to use it on other models before ultimately putting the brakes on the idea when the company began its current renaming strategy and stopped production of the Q60 coupe (the renamed G37).

St. Clair said that the IPL package was just an introductory step, "The IPL was our first effort; the Red S will be our new performance package." He added that the Red Sport is not a dedicated AMG fighter, "This isn;t intended to be an AMG-fighter. ...We're not there yet. I would call this program mid-performance, our first step in that direction. To step up to Red S will primarily be an increase in power and performance." Despite St. Clar's words, we still suspect that the car will be a match for some members of the AMG lineup, thanks to its 400-horsepower V6 engine which embraces turbocharging and an all-new water-cooled air charging system to make more power than before. Its 350 lb-ft of torque is also a noticeable improvement over the 295 lb-ft of torque wielded by the lesser 300-horsepower model. Look for Infiniti to possibly expand this theme if it chooses to create an even more performance-honed version of the Q50 or one of its other models. Perhaps a sinister black 'S' designation will help in this regard, not only in terms of completing Infiniti's color-coded performance ladder, but also in making it standout from rivals.


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