In an effort to carve out a niche in the crowded luxury segment, Nissan’s Infiniti brand is working to differentiate itself by providing technologies that its product planners hope will fuel customer demand. This is evident in the latest offering from the marque, the 2008 EX35 compact crossover laden with gadgets that are both noteworthy and somewhat gimmicky when it comes to usefulness.
The curvaceous exterior of the EX, which closely resembles its bigger brother FX, is accentuated by a long hood, short front and rear overhangs and Infiniti’s signature wave character line that progresses from the hood through to the tail lamps. While that may not seem like there’s any trick technology, what’s worth noting is the paint that covers the sheet metal. Developed in conjunction with Nippon Paint, the EX is the first product to use the “fluid flush” paint system which has an elastic resin baked into the clearcoat to provide added protection against scratches and other normal wear. The resin, which has a 3-year life expectancy, actually fills in the scratches caused by car washes and other normal road debris over time to maintain the finish—but no, it won’t cover keys marks left by a disgruntled old flame.
Another key technology on the EX is Lane Departure Prevention (LDP). Designed to take lane departure warning systems to the next level, LDP uses a camera located behind the rear view mirror to monitor lines in the roadway and monitors vehicle speed to calculate the lateral distance and timing of the vehicle to determine whether it is progressing on a path to cross the lane dividing lines. If the system detects the vehicle is crossing over the line, the system first sends an audible warning to the driver. If that fails to get the driver’s attention to manually correct the angle of travel, LDP engages the EX’s dynamic control system and activates the brakes on the opposite side of the impending drift to gently pull the vehicle back into the proper lane. The system, developed in conjunction with Bosch (www.bosch.com) and Valeo (www.valeo.com) with unique algorithms developed by Nissan, operates above 45 mph and automatically disengages when the steering wheel is moved or when the turn signal is activated.
he final distinctive technology Infiniti has launched on the EX is a “bird’s eye” view camera system. Utilizing four cameras—one mounted in the front grille, one on each of the side view mirrors and on the rear license plate bracket—the system combines all four images into a single all-around view of the vehicle that’s projected on a screen in the center console. The cameras, developed by Sony (www.sony.com), have built-in microprocessors that flatten out the images for improved clarity and are transmitted to the Xanavi (www.xanavi.co.jp/index_e.html) on-board navigation system which combines the images and coverts them into a bird’s eye-like presentation. This feature, while somewhat whiz-bang, is the favorite of Eijiro Fukai, one of the lead engineers on the EX program, who says Infiniti plans to add the system to most of its vehicles in the near future.—KMK