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Nissan’s Infiniti luxury-car division today said it will introduce the first vehicle in its new Infiniti Performance Line, or IPL, tomorrow evening during the 60th annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Introducing a group of faster, more powerful vehicles is part of a broader plan to strengthen Infiniti’s identity in the market. It also helps make Infiniti a better match for other luxury brands that have high-performance divisions like BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

The new car, a hopped-up version of the company’s G Coupe, uses the tried and true combination of big engine, big brakes and firm suspension to turn an everyday car into a hotrod that seems ready for the racetrack. The IPL G Coupe has a 348-horsepower engine and either a seven-speed automatic transmission or a six-speed stick shift. It is expected in dealerships in December.

Over the last 10 years or so having a high-performance division has become a de facto requirement for luxury car makers who expect to be taken seriously. BMW has been selling powerful M-series cars in the U.S. since the 1980s, AMG has been souping up Mercedes Benz cars for decades, first as an independent shop and later as a unit of the car maker. Even Cadillac has gotten into the act with its brawny V series.

Infiniti has a reputation as a builder of fast, sharp-handling cars that are fun to drive, but its following is small. In the eyes of many consumers the brand fades into the background of oddball names and look-alike styling that pervades the auto industry. Revised styling across its vehicle lineup and the addition of speedier IPL models in meant to attract the attention of drivers who might otherwise look only at European brands.

source: blogs.wsj

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