There is no doubt that a fairly wide gap exists between Infiniti and its F1 sponsorship. Really, there is not a single production Infiniti that anyone can point to and say “Ah, that is a car that relates to open-wheel performance racing.” Sure, there have been concepts and so forth, but nothing firm.
The halo car was once thought to be the upcoming Emerg-E hybrid, but signs are pointing that the Emerg-E may disappoint. Infiniti is planning to have a running prototype of the Emerg-E ready to go for Goodwood Festival of Speed and, according to several outside sources that Car and Driver has spoken to, this gas-electric hybrid may not be the performance car that everyone is expecting (sub-five-second 0 – 60 time, 420 horsepower, etc.).
While that is really disappointing, as we were anticipating huge things from the Emerg-E, we cannot say that we are surprised. Infiniti has been really tight-lipped on this project, which oftentimes means that there are some issues going on. If the reports are accurate, then the tight lips have been due to the Emerg-E not being able to reach the power numbers that Infiniti estimated.
Don’t fret though, as Infiniti does have a fallback plan, in the form of the 2009 concept, the Essence. Yes, the Essence has been effectively shelved since its debut, but, according to reports, there are still talks about this 592-horsepower hybrid making its way into production in one form or another.
For now, all we have are unconfirmed reports from outside sources, so we will reserve our judgment for Goodwood. Who knows, the Emerg-E could come out and blow us away, and Infiniti may have kept it quiet just to avoid the competition, like Acura’s NSX and BMW’s i8, from knowing what Infiniti is planning.
Goodwood kicks off on June 28th, so we don’t have to wait too awful long to find out. We’ll update you just as soon as we hear more about this situation.
When Infiniti unveiled the Essence concept at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show the world understood that this is a brand that will put makers like BMW or Lexus in lots of trouble. And sales confirm it: up 27.5%. After all this should come as no surprise considering Infiniti has one model in almost every segment of the market.
So you will understand why Infiniti is taking their expansion under serious consideration. Next there will be a high-price halo car and a new entry-level model. As for the halo car there are lots of debates: Infiniti needs to decide is this new model will be a flagship sedan similar to models like BMW 7-Series or a sports car that will take on models like Audi R8: "It’s kind of perennial debate within the organization. What do we need by way of a flagship for the Infiniti range?’ I don’t think we’ve yet arrived at a conclusion," Brian Carolin, NNA vice president-sales said in an interview with Wards.
As for a new entry-level model: "“I think (an entry-luxury car) would have to be a very different product, (on) a different platform."
Just slightly ahead of the electric sports car explosion came Infiniti’s Essence concept unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show. Deciding that it was high time to stop treading water on the beautiful concept, Infiniti has made serious plans to produce a new sports car that will be inspired by this same concept. It’s unclear as to whether this new vehicle will carry the same hybrid powertrain as the concept - a 592 hp petrol-electric hybrid engine - but just the fact that we will get a sports car that looks like the Essence is enough for now. The unfortunate news in this matter is that Infiniti isn’t expecting to produce the car for a few years because of other vehicles they are deeming a priority at the present time.
What is supposedly more important than a new sports car? Apparently, Infiniti is focusing on a new compact car that will compete with models like the Audi A3 and BMW 1-series, as well as a luxury electric hatchback based on the Nissan Leaf. The future compact model will be a front-drive model and could even use a Mercedes platform, following the recent strategic tie-up between Daimler and Nissan-Renault.
It’s funny, we wrote that last paragraph and all we read was, "Blah, blah, blah! We want to see the Essence!"
Edmund’s Inside Line editor Brian Moody was fortunate enough to be there when Infiniti cracked open the casket containing their Essence Concept car when it arrived at the world’s greatest car show, Pebble Beach. It’s always interesting to see how these million dollar rides are packaged for their long distance travel. The Essence concept debuted this past March in Geneva showcasing the luxury brand’s forward thinking combination of turbochargers and electric motors to create a super car that has almost 600 HP and can run as a zero emissions vehicle.
What sets the Essence apart from most concept cars is that it is a true automobile, able to run completely under its own power. The hybrid system combines a boosted gas burning internal combustion V6 with a pair of electric motors to create a true 21st century luxury super car. Quite possibly a hint at a future iteration of an Infiniti GT-R with its with its bold body lines and over the top accessories like Louis Vuitton luggage.
The luxury arm of the Nissan Motor Company also gave the world a preview of the new BMW 5-Series competitor when they showed off the redesigned 2011 Infiniti M which should make for an interesting addition to the segment in a few years. If the Japanese engineers can figure out a way to stuff some of that turbo VQ/electric motor technology under the hood by the time it hits showrooms, M5 watch out!
Top Speed has already reported that the Essence Concept, revealed in Geneva, is a big step forward for Infiniti. The future car not only revealed the company’s upcoming design theme, but their technological advancements as well.
The concept car is powered by a 592 HP gas-electric hybrid engine. The 3.7 liter V6 engine will find its way into the upcoming redesigned M sedan due in early 2010 where the power plant where it will develop between 340-350 HP without the help of the turbochargers. The same direct-injection technology from the concept will then be used in both the sedan and coupe versions of the G. Direct injection engines introduce the combustible mist directly into the combustion chamber instead of the intake manifold like traditional fuel injection. The benefits of direct injection is that a more precise amount of fuel in sprayed, meaning less waste and more power, it is a solution with zero drawbacks.
Parent company Nissan wants to streamline production and drop the three different V8s currently offered in favor of a single eight cylinder power plant that will go under the hoods of both Infiniti cars and trucks. In order to accomplish this the Japanese luxury automaker is currently preparing a V8 engine with direct-injection technology.
The future of the Infiniti Q is uncertain. Infiniti dealers from around the world were invited to Japan to preview a concept version of the Q and were amazed by what looked like a four door version of the Essence Concept. Nissan would like to have a luxury car that can compete with upscale models from Lexus, BMW, and Audi. However Infiniti is interested in seeing how the economic situation pans out before diving headfirst into the venture.
We already saw the unveiling of Infiniti’s Essence concept earlier this week, and now the Automotive News is reporting it may be more than just a pipe dream. While the Essence is not likely to see the light of day, it is a preview of Infiniti’s future design and engineering philosophies. So that means we may start to see elements of the curvy lines and 592 hp gas-electric hybrid engine on future Infinity cars and SUVs. This could be realized as soon as 2010 when the new M sedan debuts.
Essence, the concept revealed by Infiniti today at the Geneva Motor Show was created to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary, but also to give an idea of the brand’s future.
Designed in cooperation with Louis Vuitton, the Essence is a RWD model, featuring a dramatic design, technology and performance statement: it is powered by a 592 hp petrol-electric hybrid engine.
The hybrid system - a zero-emissions one - combines a petrol engine with an electric motor. These can work independently or together as a “parallel” hybrid system. When the traffic clears, Essence responds with a highway performance that few cars could match. In “power assist” mode the full 592 hp is unleashed with both petrol and electric power working together.
A key difference over some other hybrid systems is that both the V6 and the electric motor feed their power only to the rear wheels. Performance is more linear, response is crisper – and driving pleasure further enhanced – as a result.
The petrol engine, a 3.7-litre V6 gasoline engine is fitted with twin turbochargers and delivers 434 hp, while the electric motor, called 3D Motor delivers 158 hp.
Infiniti has just entered the European market. So while its a respected brand in North America, it has some catching up to do on the other side of the Atlantic. That’s why Nissan’s premium brand has teamed up with a fashion icon to head to Geneva and convince Europe that it is a top tier brand.
We don’t have any great details on the car Infiniti will bring to the auto show on March 3rd. All we know right now is than it will be called "Essence", and it will have custom baggage made by Louis Vuitton.
Yeah, we don’t find luggage all the interesting either. If it wasn’t for the curvy teaser photo that Infiniti revealed, we may have even skipped the story. Will Infiniti make an interesting enough car that we’ll be willing to blog about luggage again? Find out next month.