Luxury brands are now a mainstay for most vehicle groups. Volkswagen has Audi, Toyota has Lexus and Nissan have the relative newcomer to the block, Infiniti. Yesterday evening, 23rd January 2014, marked the Infiniti St Albans showroom opening, which is only the 8th Infiniti showroom to have opened it’s doors in the UK. Our Mr Musk attended and gives the following highlights of the evening.
Infiniti have in fact been around a while, but is not so well known in Europe. In the USA, Infiniti is 25 years established and well respected by all. Part of Infiniti’s range includes the range topping Sebastian Vettel tuned performance QX70 luxury SUV which takes Vettel’s name in top spec. More interestingly to us, is the Q50 – Infiniti’s premium sports saloon which is available in some standard internal combustion engined guises, but also two hybrid versions – two and all wheel drive (AWD) models.
The Q50 hybrid was on display at the new St Albans showroom, as was the QX70 Vettel. The Q50 is a mid range saloon, competing against the Audi A3, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C Class and Lexus IS series. Infiniti have made the comparison more obvious, by dotting some printouts around the showroom, which detailed each of the aforementioned vehicles against their own Q50 – with the Q50 coming out trumps over the rest, naturally. The Q50’s chassis was developed by Sebastian Vettel, who’s official title with Infiniti is Director of Performance. The car felt well built and nicely laid out with a very definite premium feel to it. However, as the saying goes, ‘the proof is in the pudding’ and it will be when driving the car that it really comes to life.
Also on display at the showroom was last year’s Formula One model (albeit a static display show car) to further emphasise Infiniti’s presence. Infiniti has been making it’s name heard loud and clear when it comes to another Formula One. More specifically, the Infiniti Red Bull team have dominated the sport for the last few years, with drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Webber has stepped down from his role and the 2014 season sees many a rule change along with a completely new engine formula. The end of one era must mark the start of another though, and Infiniti intends to begin it’s UK sales with a flying start.
The UK market is an important one for Infiniti, not least because Nissan’s Sunderland plant – better known for producing such cars as the Nissan Juke and LEAF electric car. Furthermore, Infiniti spokespersons were proud to announce a new smaller Infiniti model which is set to take on the likes of the BMW 1 series and Audi A3.
Steve Oliver, Infiniti’s director for northern Europe, said:
“Infiniti is a brand still in its infancy in the UK and in Europe but in the United States, our primary market, we have been established for 25 years. But with our youthfulness comes excitement and you can see that clearly in some of the things we’re involved in such as the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team and halo models like the Infiniti FX Vettel.”
The new showroom is located at; Infiniti Centre St Albans, Lyon Way, St Albans, Hertfordshire and is run by the Glyn Hopkin dealer group. Infiniti St Albans was officially opened by The Right Worshipful the Mayor of St Albans City and District, Councillor Annie Brewster.
Fraser Cohen, Managing Director of Glyn Hopkin, said:
“This is a very important night for Glyn Hopkin and we are absolutely delighted to be adding a premium brand of Infiniti’s stature to our portfolio. It’s a brand which is going places, with lots of exciting product on the way, and I’m sure the people of St Albans and Hertfordshire will love the performance of the models and the quality of the service we’re able to offer. Both performance and real high-end customer service are at heart of the Infiniti ethos.”