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Infiniti Q50 to start under $60,000

The Q50 will be loaded with luxury, including two big touch-screen infotainment displays.

The hottest slot in luxury motoring is about to get even hotter as Infiniti fires up with a rival to the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The first Q50 came off the production line in Japan yesterday and plans are in place to have the first Australian cars delivered by November.

The Q50 will have a starting price below $60,000, will be powered by a range of engines from a turbocharged four provided by Daimler, and will sidestep its German rivals with a solid emphasis on driving enjoyment.

The official introduction of the Q50 comes as Infiniti confirms plans for a major model expansion at both the top and bottom ends of luxury motoring, with a Q70 flagship and a baby model to compete with the Benz A-Class.

“The Q50 is coming, absolutely. It's here in quarter four,” Infiniti Cars Australia's spokesman, Peter Fadeyev, tells Carsguide.

“It will be our fifth model. And it will be our largest selling model. This will be competing in the most important sector of the Australian luxury car market.”

He refuses to even hint on the price points for the Q50 but confirms a range of engines from turbocharged four-cylinder petrol and diesel motors through a 3.7-litre V6 to a hybrid package.

But Infiniti is emphasising the sporty feel and technology in the car. “There are a number of technology proof points, including steer-by-wire. Hybrid power is another point of difference, with a direct emphasis on the performance on the car and not just the economy,” Fadeyev says.

The Q50 will be loaded with luxury, including two big touch-screen infotainment displays, although there is no news yet on any connectivity plans.

Further into the future, a British-built baby is confirmed for 2015 and Infiniti is also expecting an all-electric car - probably in 2016 - based on the Infiniti LE concept car from the New York auto show in 2012.

Completion of the first Q50 in Japan includes an aggressive outline of Infiniti's future by the brand's global president, Johan de Nysschen.

“We will... introduce models above where the Q70 stops today. In our crossover range, we can imagine significant additions to that lineup as well,” he says.

“Other cars on tap include a new compact premium model that will be made at Nissan's Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom starting in 2015.”

According to de Nysschen, Infiniti is intending to build a range that covers 90 per cent of the luxury sector - compared with less than 60 per cent now - and more than triple its annual sales from 170,000 in 2012.

“I would imagine that, by the end of this decade, we would not only breach the 500,000 mark but the 600,000 mark,” de Nysschen says.

This reporter is on Twitter: @paulwardgover