Webber drives an Infiniti M37 as part of a new global tie-up between the Nissan luxury brand and his Red Bull F1 team and it's on the list for local sales. Infiniti has been working on a plan for Australia for more than two years and it finally went public this week on the broad details - including models and three upscale dealerships in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
"We've been talking for two-and-a-half years and finally it's all happening. We've got enough certainty on the model lineup and dealer strategy that we're able to say something concrete," says Dan Thompson, the Nissan Australia boss who has been driving the Infiniti plan.
"We saw an opportunity to do something this week with the Australian Grand Prix and the relationship with Red Bull. This is such a great day for Infiniti." The brand's hero car is the FX, a BMW X5-sized crossover SUV.
Its design is genuinely unique and - from a brief drive in Europe - it will deliver a very different experience for Australian shoppers. The other two models in the lineup are the G-series, which comes as a BMW 3-Series sized convertible and coupe, and the M sedan which Infiniti sees as a rival to the BMW 5 Series. There will be an M37 hybrid with petrol and diesel engine choices in the other models.
Infiniti is not talking about prices or sales targets, as Thompson says it is far too early for specifics. "We won't have the cars in showrooms until September or October next year. And it's a very long-term project."
Even so, Infiniti Australia is planning to go head-to-head with the Germany luxury brands from the start and totally rejects any suggestion that it will be a cut-price contender. "Absolutely not. We won't be the cheapest," says Thompson. The Infiniti pre-launch comes as the brand gears up for global growth intended to more than double its sales from the current level of 165,000.
"This performance luxury brand is moving into a serious growth phase," says Kevin Snell, the one-time Saab executive who is general manager of Infiniti Australia. "There is no cheap, easy way to break into this market. We want to focus on quality over quantity. We will do it step-by-step."
Basic details on the Infiniti models are: FX - mid-sized luxury SUV, 290kW 5.0-litre V8 and 235kW 3.7-litre V8 petrol engines, 175kW V6 diesel; seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Models are FX50 and FX37 M - mid-sized luxury sedan, 235kW 3.7-litre V6, 313kW 5.6-litre V8, 175kW 3.0-litre diesel, 261kW hyrid, rear or all-wheel drive.
Models are M37, M56, M30d and M35h G - compact luxury sedan and convertible, 162kW 2.5-litre V6, 245kW 3.7-litre V6, rear and all-wheel drive with seven-speed automatic. Models are G25 and G37.