NISSAN’S decision to axe production of the Infiniti Q30 and QX35 at Sunderland comes as no great surprise.

The only real shock is that it didn’t come sooner.

Infiniti’s sales in Europe have collapsed – down from a high of 3,515 in 2017 to just 750 last year. Those kind of figures are unsustainable for a mass market car manufacturer.

The writing was on the wall in January when Infiniti quietly axed most of the cars in its range – leaving just the two Sunderland-made models to hold the fort.

When Nissan launched Infiniti in Europe, in 2008, the company’s range felt curiously out of step – and it was.

The original line-up consisted of large coupes and SUVs that had been designed for the American market. They had large capacity petrol engines at a time when the European market demanded a diesel alternative. Ironically, by the time the diesel Infinitis were ready buyers were already looking to hybrid and battery-powered alternatives.

Undeterred, Infiniti regrouped and tried again. The Q30 and QX35 models were supposed spearhead its first serious assault on the European market. They were smaller, nicer to drive and one was a crossover – the fastest growing market segment. Unfortunately, they weren’t true Infinitis.

In a bid to bring two new European models to market quickly, Infiniti did a deal with Mercedes to use the German company’s A-Class platform. From the driver’s seat the QX35 looks – and feels – like a Mercedes GLA.

The Q/QX twins gave Infiniti sales a boost but the recovery didn’t last and by last year they were back to 2014 levels.

Given the relatively modest numbers built, Sunderland won’t feel the loss of the Infiniti duo too badly. The factory has lost models before – it no longer builds the Micra – and it remains the European home of the incredibly popular Qashqai.

Buyers in western Europe won’t miss the Infiniti marque, either. Only petrol heads will lament the loss of a quirky brand that wasn’t afraid to do things differently.