Infiniti is looking to take the Nissan Juke’s surprising success to China with a new compact crossover called the Infiniti ESQ. This new model will be closely related to the funky-looking Juke, and will presumably be a China-only vehicle for the Infiniti brand.
The ESQ is part of Infiniti’s growing product offensive in China, as the expanding luxury market there will be a key part of the company’s global strategy going forward. The ESQ fits into a rapidly growing crossover and SUV market and slots in below Infiniti’s smallest crossover model, the aging QX50 (previously EX). Weirdly enough, the Infiniti ESQ disrupts the new Q/QX naming scheme that Infiniti announced last year, but it could be that the Juke-based ESQ is just an interim solution before a new Q30 compact or QX30 crossover debuts within the next few years.
The Infiniti ESQ will be nearly identical to the Nissan Juke Nismo sold in the U.S., as Infiniti says it will use the same 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 197 hp. The ESQ will be offered only with the continuously variable transmission and all-wheel drive, whereas here Juke Nismo buyers can also select a front-drive model with a six-speed manual transmission.
From the teaser photos Infiniti has provided so far, we can see that the Juke’s looks haven’t changed much either in order to create the ESQ. The front grille has a slightly different shape, more chrome, and a prominent ESQ badge, but otherwise displays the same low-mounted round headlights with bizarre upper turn signals bulging out of the hood. Interestingly, the ESQ appears to use the outgoing Juke’s headlight shape rather than the updated look of the refreshed 2015 Nissan Juke shown at the Geneva auto show earlier this year. Along the sides, the ESQ features chrome multi-spoke wheels and chrome side sills for a more upscale appearance, and the glimpse of the interior provided shows the Juke’s steering wheel with an Infiniti badge in place of the Nissan emblem.
The Infiniti ESQ will reportedly go on sale in China by the end of the year, so expect to see more information about this bizarre Nissan Juke variant when it officially debuts for the Chinese market.