Infiniti's decision to change its naming scheme to Q and QX has caused some consternation, so company president Johan de Nysschen released an open letter to Infiniti fans. In addition to defending the company's move to a new set of badges, de Nysschen also dropped a tantalizing future-product hint. Discussing the current Infiniti M range (to be renamed Q70), he hinted about "a new high-tech 550+ horsepower performance flagship for the Infiniti M range above it, using a potent charged induction V6."
Before you get all excited about an Infiniti that can rival a BMW M5, allow us to confirm that de Nysschen was speaking hypothetically. Infiniti spokesman Kyle Bazemore confirms that rather than a product announcement, the comment was simply an example of the direction the Infiniti brand could go in the future. However, there are still two important pieces of news from the open letter to fans.
First, Infiniti will consider an "aspirational" flagship model in the future. The luxury brand has been candid about its plans to grow market share and sales. Adding a top-tier vehicle could help the brand's cachet, and it would be positioned above the current range-topping Infiniti M56. But that model wouldn't necessarily use a turbo- or supercharged V-6 engine, nor would it necessarily have in excess of 550 hp.
Second, Infiniti is likely to adopt downsize turbocharged engines in the future. For now, the company sells only V-6 and V-8 mills in the U.S., but reports suggest that de Nysschen will improve Infiniti's fuel-economy record by introducing smaller engines. Ditching the current 5.0- and 5.6-liter V-8s for turbocharged V-6s could return improved horsepower at the same time as reduced consumption.
Many rumors suggest that the G37 replacement, known as the Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe/convertible, will include a high-performance model with a twin-turbo V-6 engine. It's rumored to produce 550 hp -- matching up with de Nysschen's hints in his open letter.
This move to smaller engines with forced induction and helps explain why Infiniti will ditch its current naming scheme. Using a model designation and then an engine displacement -- the G37 has a 3.7-liter engine, the M56 has a 5.6-liter -- would pose problems if Infiniti were to downsize its powertrains. It would be illogical to call, for instance, a car with a 550-hp turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 the Infiniti X30, even though it was more powerful and more expensive than, say, a 400-hp Infiniti X56.
Another reason for leaving displacement-oriented names: Infiniti plans to introduce an all-electric car in 2014. How do you ascribe a two-digit displacement number to a car with an electric motor?
Regardless, Johan de Nysschen's open letter should serve to calm the fears of avid Infiniti fans. And it does give us more reasons to expect both a high-end flagship and some sort of a turbo- or supercharged performance car in the future.