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New York Auto Show 2004 - Highlights

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Photos: Matthew de Paula, Infiniti

Infiniti M45 concept
by Matthew de Paula

For decades Japanese automakers have been groping for their own distinct designs. With the new M45 concept, Infiniti solidifies some unique themes introduced on other models and hints at what's to come.

Two of the most important elements to distinguish new Infinitis are the 'double-arc grille' and L-shaped lights front and rear, says Infiniti designer Michinari Chiba, who helped craft the M45's exterior. Rings of LEDs in the tail lamps and glass extending into C-pillars past the rear-door windows are also distinct, he says.

Subtle nacelles radiating from the headlamps flank hood creases, which flow from the outer edges of the grille and taper front to back. "The styling is designed to be masculine, aggressive and bold," said Mark Igo, Infiniti VP and general manager in his address during the car's unveiling at the New York International Auto Show. "The body follows the current Infiniti direction. It features a long wheelbase, short overhangs and large 19-inch wheels and tires pushed all the way out to the corners." Aluminum doors, hood and deck lid are a first for Infiniti.

The M45 concept is 95 percent production ready, says Nissan design director Tsunehiro Kunimoto who headed up the project. The car goes on sale spring 2005 as a 2006 model and is smaller than the outgoing M45. It's also more svelte , with an elegantly arced roofline that provides a roomy interior, Kunimoto says. Inside, the double-arc theme from Infiniti's grille is echoed in the dashboard. A command dial reminiscent of BMW's iDrive has been incorporated but is surrounded by six light colored buttons, which stand out from the dashes' darker controls. They're intended to offer easy access to the most important climate, stereo and navigation functions, Kunimoto says, adding that the instrument panel's layout was designed with a piano keyboard in mind: all five fingers can be used to activate keys.

The car uses Infiniti's FM platform found on the G35 sedan and coupe and the FX SUV. It is more rigid with an enhanced suspension for high-speed stability and nimble steering.

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Last updated: Mon, Apr 12, 2004