Undercover posh brand makes inroads into the UK

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IT is a case of slowly, slowly catches the buyer as Nissan’s undercover posh brand, Infiniti, makes gradual progress in the UK. Its sales in 2010 were just 232, rising to 382 in 2011. Some of these cars were registered as demonstrators by dealers – currently in Glasgow, Leeds, Stockport, Birmingham, London and Reading. Opening this year are Belfast, Newcastle, Nottingham, Cambridge and Bristol. From the G series of convertible, coupe and saloon to the bigger M saloon and hybrid to the EX hatchback and the FX sports utility these are eye-catching vehicles. FX sales were up 31 per cent in Europe last year in a sector that fell by seven per cent.

The styling has been intelligently tweaked since the marque launched here and the latest one getting the update is the FX, a large 4x4 with cattle-stopping presence.

This is the Infiniti flagship, its Range Rover if you like, midway in length between the queen of luxury 4x4s and its half-cousin the Range Rover Sport model. If you care to take a risk with the social stigma of not having something with Range Rover badges – though note that the RR Sport is based on the Land Rover Discovery – then the Infiniti FX could be your smart ride. Prices for the Spring update stay unchanged, from just under £47,000 for the powerful V6 316bhp petrol or 235bhp diesel GT versions. Not much midnight oil has been expended in the update – focusing on how it looks in the belief that how it goes is good enough.

There’s a bit of re-shaping at the front, new alloy wheel styles – which start at 20 inches — and new body colour choices. Top price is £58,250 for the 385bhp 5-litre petrol V8 - surely enough to grab the attention of the white Range Rover Sport buyer, with its 21 inch wheels. Big shots will already have their name down for one of the 414 bhp FX Vettel models. Just 200 are being made and deliveries begin next year.

In the first three months Infiniti UK registrations were 144, up from 93 in the same period last year.