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Auto blogWed, 10 Jul 2013 11:00:00 EST
An evolution in lithium-ion batteries and "interesting advances in electric technology" are said to be responsible for the delay of Infiniti's electric car, the production version of the LE concept first shown at the New York Auto Show in 2012. At the time of its introduction, Infiniti said we'd have a version we could buy within two years; that timeline became 2015, and now Automotive News Europe reports that it's"still within in our mid-term plan" but officials aren't saying how long the delay will be.
When shown, the LE had a 24kWh lithium-ion battery and a 100kw electric motor producing 134 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, a 100-mile range and the potential for wireless charging. It isn't clear if the postponement will bring improved specs or perhaps improved packaging and technology - or both. All we have for now is that the new timeframe is "not significantly" beyond the original plan.
Ten years ago, nearly to the day, I took delivery of a brand-new 2004 Infiniti G35 6MT. The sporty rear-wheel drive sedan, equipped with its throaty 260-horsepower V6, slick manual gearbox and limited-slip differential replaced my 2001 BMW 330i because the Japanese competitor touted a product that was roomier, better equipped, quicker and lower priced. The G35 trumped the German in nearly every measurable category - at least on paper.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is the direct descendant, albeit two generations later, of the car I owned a decade ago. It is dimensionally about the same size, but it has gained more than 300 pounds of mass thanks to numerous safety upgrades and technical innovations. The additional weight is largely dismissed by a larger and more efficient powerplant that delivers an additional 68 horsepower, a welcome arrival, but the manual gearbox that charmed enthusiasts has been pushed out of the picture by a mandatory seven-speed automatic transmission.
As it has in the past, Infiniti touts its all-new Q50 as a luxury sport sedan worthy of the title. Decades ago, impressive performance statistics may have sealed the deal. Yet there is much more to the assignment today, as the model must offer premium appointments, sophistication and engaging driving dynamics if it's going to entice and capture the next-generation of young, premium buyers - much like the G35 did for me ten years ago.
QX70 was the only application for the 5.0L, making it a tough sell in the boardroom.
It was always easy to chuckle a bit at Infiniti's branding of its FX crossover as a "bionic cheetah" - until you drove the thing. It was something of a revelation when it came on the market in late 2002 - certainly visually, but also in terms of performance, particularly in V8 guise. The Porsche Cayenne burst on the scene at the same time, and between the two of them, they vividly illustrated that the idea of a performance utility vehicle wasn't the oxymoron it first appeared to be.