Infiniti's new BMW 3-series-rivalling Q50 has been described by Tony Lewis, the company's director of north Europe, as 'an absolute game changer for us', with the 114g/km upper medium saloon launching the Japanese premium brand into the corporate heartland.
"It's clearly the most significant step since our UK launch," Lewis told BusinessCar. "If you had a wishlist for this type of car, it's hit every one: 114g/km, 400Nm of torque, 65mpg, which is outstanding for the performance."
The 170hp 2.2-litre diesel engine is sourced from Mercedes under a collaboration between Daimler and Infiniti parent Renault-Nissan.
"Until now our strategy in the fleet market was just to let people know we are a new brand with nice cars," added Infiniti's corporate sales director Carlos Montenegro.
"With the Q50 we change that message - we are now a good player with good product." Lewis said the firm is specifically targeting Saab, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Lexus customers rather than the big German premium brands, with Lexus potentially proving an area of focus.
"This offers something to Lexus IS customers that they can't get - if they have bought into the Japanese ownership experience they can now get a diesel with it."
Technology companies are also an important target for the Q50, thanks to the advanced tech the firm is packaging into the vehicle, including a claimed world-first direct adaptive steering that Infiniti said will offer faster steering response and great precision.
A total of 96 parameters can also be stored for four different drivers under the i-key development, and the firm's Intouch dual touch-screen system will be able to incorporate apps as well as the regular audio, climate and navigation controls.
"We have already been talking to people that have asked about putting their company driver's handbook or leasing company apps onto it," claimed Lewis.
"The market is tough but we have the right product and don't need to attract all the market at once. Our key customers put a value on the technology of the car," said Montenegro.
The Q50 will start from £27,350, with what Lewis described as "a lot of car for the spec". The firm is gently growing its dealer network, with the recent opening of a Hull site taking its number to seven, with another four - north London, Norfolk, north-east England and the south coast - all being added by the end of this year, and another five in 2014.
Lewis said the dealers will continue to operate a free collect and deliver service for all customers, though "a lot of people want to drive to the dealer and use our wifi and drink our coffee," said Lewis.
"With the volume we do and the dealers we've got, the service an Infiniti fleet customer gets is no different from a retail customer, and I don't think that's always the case."
Infiniti labels new Q50 'absolute game changer'