Infiniti kills the V8

words - Bruce Newton
Hybrid will be used for performance boosting

Increasingly stringent fuel and emissions regulations mean that Japanese luxury brand Infiniti will soon kill the V8 engine from its lineup.

Currently, the 5.0-litre VK50VE V8 is available in the FX SUV and the 5.6-litre VK56VD V8 in the M large luxury sedan and newly-launched QX (Nissan Patrol) globally. But the next generations will axe V8s. Instead, Infiniti will opt for the use of boosted six and four-cylinder engines to provide V8-style performance, be that via forced compression or hybridisation, while pure EV will be another option. A program of weight reduction and aerodynamic improvement will also play a role in maintaining power-to weight ratios and performance levels.

Australians will get a chance to sample Infiniti V8 power as the Nissan-owned brand launched last week in Australia with a V8 engine in its most expensive model, the $114,900 FX50 S Premium. But a V6 petrol-electric hybrid crowns the local M range in the form of the $99,900 M35h GT Premium.

The move away from V8s was confirmed by Infiniti global president Johan de Nysschen and his boss, Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer, in Australia for the local launch of the Infiniti brand last week.

“I don’t think any car that is on Infiniti drawing boards from here onwards we should expect a V8 to be included in that plan,” Mr de Nysschen told motoring.com.au.

Added Mr Palmer, who drives an FX50 himself: “I am afraid (US) CAFÉ regulations and emission regulations around the world make the development of V8s as part of a new family of engines almost impossible.”

However, Mr Palmer insisted the death of the Infiniti V8 would not affect the brand’s performance credentials.

“V8 does not determine performance,” he declared. “F1 has gone V6 for example. You can get the performance out of a V6 or an I4 and you can get the fuel consumption out of it.’

While the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have opted for turbocharged V8s or pared back V8 production, none as yet have stopped offering V8s in their lineups. But Mr de Nysschen predicts that the V8’s death is inevitable.

“Powertrains have to have a relatively long lifecycle, and we have to think about 15 years from today and the future unquestionably is going to see the downsizing of engines,” he said.

“There will be much focus on fuel consumption and emissions, and horsepower figures are going to come down. The 600 horsepower engines that you see today that are regrettably rare – those are the real top performance cars right now – will become extinct.”


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Published : Monday, 3 September 2012
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