Acura has been criticized basically from its inception for its lack of rear-wheel-drive models to compete against BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus. Infiniti has been the opposite of Acura with its lineup largely composed of rear-wheel-drive models. But it looks like Infiniti is about to change that with the introduction of front-wheel-drive models.
The last front-wheel-drive Infiniti was the Nissan-Maxima based I35 that was discontinued in 2004. Infiniti is now set to enter the front-wheel-drive segment again with the introduction of the JX crossover that was unveiled in Pebble Beach earlier this month. The JX is available either with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive. Infiniti is set to release another front-wheel-drive model, which will be a small hatchback based on the Etherea concept.
Larry Dominique, vice president of product planning for the Americas at Nissan North America Inc. stated, “Customers really don’t care that much about the platform beneath their car. They care about the car. We can create more interior space if we get away from the technical requirements of rear-wheel.”
Dominque also acknowledged the performance advantages that come with rear-wheel-drive based platforms, “There is a performance perception with rear-wheel,” he says. “But we’re comfortable that we don’t need rear-wheel to deliver the performance we need. And some of our vehicles, like the G and the M cars, will remain rear-wheel.”