Infiniti to debut new sports sedan at Detroit Auto Show

Infiniti EthereaInfiniti announced that it will unveil an “all-new luxury sports sedan” at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 14. The new model is likely the next generation G sedan, although a new compact sedan is also a possibility. Either way, it will introduce some major changes for the Japanese luxury brand.

The current G was introduced for the 2007 model year, so it’s ready for a makeover. The rest of Infiniti’s lineup, including the larger M sedan and EX, JX, and QX SUVs, is newer.

The G’s main rival, the BMW 3 Series, was just redesigned; BMW is still rolling out some models like the (now 4 Series) coupe and convertible. Cadillac just launched its ATS, and is preparing a redesigned CTS as well. For Infiniti, time is of the essence.

Reports suggest that the redesigned G will be very different from the current version, or any previous Infiniti. The new model may drop Nissan’s venerable VQ-series 3.7-liter V6 for a Mercedes-sourced V6 of indeterminate size.

The 2014 G is also likely to be one of the first models to get Nissan’s new electric-steer-by-wire system. This system relays steering wheel inputs to a computer that controls the steering rack, and also monitors the front wheels to keep them tracking straight. There is no physical link between the steering wheel and front wheels.

On the other hand, Infiniti could be going in a completely different direction. The company has also discussed an entry-level model, which is supposed to go on sale in 2014. Since some reports put the G’s debut at the Geneva Motor Show, this compact sports sedan might be the car set to debut in the Motor City.

The compact Infiniti will further cement Nissan’s partnership with Daimler. The car is said to be based on the MFA platform that underpins the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class. That means this car could be half Mercedes, half Infiniti, and that it will be the brand’s first front-wheel drive car in years.

The compact Infiniti will likely be based on the Etherea concept from the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, but without the electric powertrain and and suicide doors. It will reportedly be built by Magna Steyr in Austria.

With a Mercedes-power, fly-by-wire G and an all-new front-wheel drive compact in the works, some interesting times are definitely ahead for Infiniti. Whichever model debuts in Detroit, it’s clear that Nissan’s luxury division is moving in a different direction.