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Infiniti Charges into Compact Luxury Segment with Q30

Three versions of new compact hatch will be offered.

by on Sep.14, 2015

The new 2016 Infiniti Q30 will be offered in three distinct trim levels.

With the help of erstwhile competitor Mercedes-Benz, Infiniti is the latest luxury maker to target the fast-growing compact segment. The Japanese maker is giving us a full preview of the new Infiniti Q30 hatchback ahead of its formal debut at the Franfkrtu Motor Show this week.

The Q30 and the soon-to-come QX30 crossover will be the smallest offerings in the rapidly expanding Infiniti line-up. The two models share the same underlying platform as the Mercedes CLA and GLA models, but feature distinctly different interior and exterior designs. They pick up the latest Inifiniti cues, such as the distinctive boomerang kick to the back pillar.

Driving Passion!

“Q30 makes a daring visual statement through its sculpted, concept car-like exterior, unconventional stance and asymmetric cabin design,” suggests Infiniti President Roland Krueger. “The car has been engineered to exacting standards to deliver a driving experience that is unmistakably Infiniti. Q30 will accelerate the company’s strategy to become a leading global manufacturer of premium cars.”


Adding Major New Lexus Model a Key Reason Older ES Sedan Coming to US

Toyota luxury marque trying to re-think what future luxury buyers will want.

by on Apr.19, 2013

Mark Templin, Jim Lentz and Akio Toyoda at the Friday news conference in New York.

Lopsided exchange rates and potential natural disasters are two reasons why Toyota officials said they plan to shift production of the Lexus ES from Japan to the U.S. during a news conference in New York earlier today – but has learned of yet another reason. The Kyushu plant currently producing the Lexus sedan will need to make room for an all-new model the luxury maker is getting ready to bring to market.

While Jim Lentz, Toyota’s top North American executive declined to identify that new model, sources indicate it is likely to be a compact crossover filling a niche below the current RX line. Lentz did say Lexus expects it could yield more than the 50,000 units of annual demand the ES currently generates.

The Last Word!

He also hinted, that this new model and other possibly offerings Lexus is looking at are part of the brand’s push to shift focus from the Baby Boomers who currently dominate its customer ranks to the next generation of luxury buyers. “We’re always looking at the luxury business which will change over time,” explained Lentz during a one-on-one conversation with  “The consumption of luxury and what it means to Boomers may be very different for Gen-Y.  We need to prepare ourselves for what younger luxury buyers will want.”


Mercedes May Launch New X-Class Microcar

Germans turning to French alliance partner Renault for help.

by on Mar.19, 2013

Mercedes is looking to follow the lead of key competitors like BMW and Audi.

It may require an alphabetic revision, but Mercedes-Benz is reportedly working up a new model line that would slot somewhere between the maker’s current bottom-end A-Class and the Smart car produced by parent Daimler AG.

Designed to take on competitors like the Audi A1 and a front-drive BMW model now under development, Mercedes is expected to turn to its French alliance partner Renault to help develop the small car. The X-Class would be targeted at the growing market for high-mileage microcars and be offered in a mix of body styles.

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Production of the new line is expected to begin around 2018, according to Germany’s AutoBild magazine, with the X-Class expected to come in at a base price of around €20,000, or $26,000 at current exchange rates. That would create a serious challenge for the maker, something Mercedes apparently will address by turning to one of its partners for assistance.


Lincoln Looking at Compact Sedan as Well as Small Crossover

Strategy is to hit volume segments “quickly.”

by on Aug.15, 2012

Could Lincoln find a way to turn the mainstream Focus into a new compact luxury sedan?

Expect to see Lincoln continue to downsize even as it expands, several company sources suggest.  That’s not some Zen mantra but an increasing interest in smaller models that can flesh out the brand’s currently modest line-up.

Among the offerings likely to reach market over the next few years, the most certain is a compact crossover that will be based on the all-new Ford Escape platform and which may be sold as the MKC.

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“That’s where the real growth in the luxury market is coming from,” said a senior source with Ford Motor Co.’s luxury brand.

But, he quickly added, “We’re looking at our options in the compact sedan segment, as well,” which the source stressed is likely to be another high-growth segment in the coming years.


Mercedes Expecting to Join Nissan in New Mexican Assembly Complex

Next step in partnership would produce Mercedes and Infiniti models for the Americas.

by on Jan.26, 2012

Mercedes-Benz revealed this early A-Class Concept at the 2011 NY Auto Show.

Copyright 2012

Nissan and Daimler are looking to take a significant step forward in their rapidly expanding partnership – the German maker expecting to set up a new plant that would be located adjacent to the new Nissan assembly complex going into Aguascalientes, Mexico, has learned.

The Daimler plant would be used to produce a wide range of small luxury products for both the German maker’s Mercedes-Benz brand and for Nissan’s Infiniti division, such as the Mercedes A-Class and Infiniti Etherea  – sources telling that these could include both conventionally powered and electrified offerings designed to help both makers improve their corporate fuel economy averages.

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Officially, neither Daimler nor the Renault/Nissan Alliance would discuss the plan, though a spokesperson for the German company referred to a recent comment by CEO Dieter Zetsche in which he confirmed that further joint ventures are under study.  The two makers decided to launch a limited series of efforts in 2010 and have since announced several additional joint ventures including one revealed early this month in which they will produce a new line of four-cylinder engines at the Nissan powertrain plant in Decherd, Tennessee.


Mercedes offers a Tease of Next-Gen A-Class

Will Americans accept a pocket-sized Benz?

by on Jan.24, 2012

Mercedes expects to produce as many as four variants of the next-gen A-Class.

Luxury cars have traditional been measured by the inch and pound.  But times are changing – at least in most parts of the world.  But it remains to be seen whether U.S. buyers will embrace the pint-sized Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the smallest model ever developed by the German luxury giant.

Downsized luxury cars, such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, haven’t exactly been hits with traditional buyers.  But, as this teaser image – (and a 56-second preview you can check out on You.Tube) – suggests, Mercedes isn’t going after the same customer who would opt for an S-, E- or even a C-Class.

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To underscore its focus on the tech-savvy Gen-X and Millennial customers just entering the luxury market in serious numbers, Mercedes has bathed the prototype shown her in QR codes, the more advanced version of barcodes, which can be used to find out more about the third-generation A-Class.


New Cadillac ATS Aims to Become Luxury Brand’s Best-Seller

Sedan will be followed by wagon, performance model, other spin-offs.

by on Jan.09, 2012

Cadillac's new ATS reaches showrooms over the summer, shortly after the launch of the big XTS.

It may be Cadillac’s smallest model but the new ATS sedan has some big shoes to fill.

Making its debut at the 2012 North American International Auto Show, in Detroit, this week, Caddy gave the automotive media a sneak peak Sunday night at the 2013 model, which will follow the luxury brand’s premium-luxury XTS sedan to market later this year.

Slotting beneath the current mid-range Cadillac CTS, the 2013 ATS will target some of the world’s most popular luxury models, like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. But Caddy officials are nothing if not confident, General Motors President Mark Reuss suggesting that the new offering should eventually become the best-selling model in the Cadillac line-up – and give the U.S. brand the nudge it needs to crack key overseas markets like Europe.

All the Auto Show News!

The 2013 Cadillac ATS will be produced at a GM plant in Lansing, Michigan, the same factory now producing the larger CTS.  The underlying platform for the two share some similarities, but Caddy Chief Engineer David Leone stresses that the “architecture” of the smaller model has undergone extensive revisions designed to not only improved its ride and handling but also to sharply reduce its weight.


Mercedes to Offer Four Different Versions of New A-Class Minicar

A U.S. launch in the works – but when is another matter.

by on Apr.20, 2011

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class Concept will be followed by four distinct body styles when the minicar goes into production.

After giving its new small car a Shanghai send-off, Mercedes-Benz rolled out a second version of its A-Class Concept for the New York Auto Show, today.  But what you see – at least in the U.S. – may not be what you get, a senior official confiding that the hatchback prototype is just one of four different body styles that will build off the subcompact luxury car platform.

The hatch Concept, shown in New York, will reappear with only minor changes, Mercedes officials noted, the most likely revision coming with the distinctive stud-like grille.

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Expect to see at least one of e four versions make it to the U.S. – the first time the A-Class will be offered here – Mercedes’ top American executive Ernst Lieb told  But the executive cautioned that the timing of the American introduction is far from set in stone.

The precise date “is pretty open,” said Lieb, though he quickly added that, “it will come.”  That could be several years after the planned 2012 debut of the redesigned A-Class in Europe.


Mercedes F800 and Concept Fascination Prototypes To Reappear as Next-Gen A-Class

All-new look to put smallest Benz in competition with A3 and VW Golf – and bring it to the U.S.

by on Jul.16, 2010

First shown in Paris in 2008, the Mercedes-Benz Concept Fascination will strongly influence the next-generation A-Class, especially the back half.

“Fascinating,” as Mr. Spock might say.  Fascination, we’d correct him.  Or, more precisely, the striking Concept Fascination prototype that drew admiring stares when it made its debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show.

A somewhat less exotic version has already appeared in production, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe.  But it seems the show car’s influence is stretching into other designs, sources indicate.  A sort of coupe-wagon crossover, the Fascination strongly influenced another intriguing concept vehicle, this year’s Mercedes-Benz F800 Style.

Blend them together, and they will reappear as the next-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class, due to market roughly two years from now.

The original A-Class was the German maker’s first effort to target the emerging mini-luxury segment.  Short, narrow and tall, it was a bit ungainly, in part because it was conceived as a way to use a variety of different powertrains, possibly even electric drive, key components of which would be mounted below the vehicle’s load floor.

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Moving forward, Mercedes appears to be aiming for something a bit more conventional in overall design, but a replacement A-Class that, nonetheless, wins hearts, minds and pocketbooks with eye-catching good looks and plenty of features, say several company insiders.


New Lexus Small Car Could Arrive by 2012 – Possibly Sooner

Maker gauging reaction, but downsize luxury trend unavoidable.

by on Nov.19, 2009

Lexus is likely to launch a small car, perhaps by 2012, reflecting the emerging market for downsized - but well-equipped - luxury vehicles. A possible design, the LF-Ch, is shown here.

Lexus is likely to launch a small car, perhaps by 2012, reflecting the emerging market for downsized - but well-equipped - luxury vehicles. A possible design, the LF-Ch, is shown here.

Lexus, the largest luxury brand in the U.S., is giving serious thought to launching a new, downsized luxury model, and could bring it to market within the next couple years, the brand’s general manager told

How soon and precisely what form the new product will take remains uncertain, though it’s likely to have many of the characteristics of the LF-Ch concept vehicle that the Toyota luxury division unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show, in September.  Downsizing is particularly critical, said Lexus General Manager Mark Templin, to the marque’s planned expansion around the world.

“There is a group of buyers growing up now who won’t buy cars by the pound,” noted Templin, adding that, “We have already seen a structural shift” to the smaller and lower-priced segments of the luxury market over the last couple years.

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The so-called Premium Luxury segments have been especially hard-hit by the recession, analysts offering a variety of suggestions why, including the possibility the most affluent buyers don’t want to be seen flaunting their wealth at a time when their companies may be cutting back.  But it also appears that even those who don’t worry about appearances may simply be finding smaller vehicles more attractive.