Infiniti Etherea

Infiniti Etherea

Infiniti Etherea

Since its launch in 1989, Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti, has been more of a BMW and Mercedes-Benz alternative rather than a competitor. Typically, Infiniti buyers want a luxury car, but don’t want the costs or stigma that comes with owning its German counterparts. For these reasons, Infiniti has really been more of a background luxury lineup, even when compared to Lexus .

Infiniti feels that now is the time to change and it plans on starting this change right in BMW BMW and Mercedes’s back yard: Europe. According to Renault Renault -Nissan Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, by 2016, Infiniti is expected to sell 100,000 units in the European market, nearly 10 times the cars it sold in 2011. The plan is to build a lineup around the 245-horsepower hot hatchback that Infiniti teased via a concept car dubbed the Etherea in Geneva. This hatchback, which is due out in 2014, is expected to account for at least 50 percent of the 100,000 total sales.

As we said, these are very lofty goals for a car company just hitting a certain market, especially one as crowded as the European one is. Add in the fact that the hatchback segment is especially crowded in Europe and you have one heck of a difficult task to undertake. Given Infiniti continues to produce high-quality cars, it is attainable, but it will require some heavy advertising to overtake other makes in the market.

In the same breath, Ghosn also stated that Infiniti plans to increase global sales to 500,000 units by 2016. That seems slightly more realistic, as it is only an increase of 146,000 total sales. For now we’ll just say that we’re skeptical that Infiniti will actually hit the European sales number. We definitely wish the best to Infiniti, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation.

While we may have been unduly harsh towards the Infiniti Etherea leading up to its big unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show, it wasn’t for a lack of opinion, as we most certainly are entitled to ours. But now that all the teaser images have come to pass and we finally get a good, long look at Infiniti’s new concept car, we’re going to stick to our guns and say that the Infiniti Etherea concept (and not Etheria as it was rumored) should get some more fine-tweaking.

As a compact luxury model that previews Infiniti’s future entry-level model geared towards the younger population, we understand the direction the company is looking into by offering an aggressive-looking car to cater to an aggressive and young market.

"ETHEREA is about a new type of luxury for younger buyers," said Toru Saito, Corporate Vice President and Leader of the Global Infiniti Business Unit. "It is not just a smaller version of a typically conservative and traditional luxury car."

Sure thing, boss. Let’s just hope that the production version of this wild child concept looks a lot tamer and more evenly proportioned.

UPDATE 03/01/11

: This review has been updated with the Etherea’s full specs, as well as new images.

Now that we’re already counting down the days leading up to the 81st Geneva Motor Show in March, automakers are already gearing up with their preparations for one of the biggest auto shows of the entire calendar year.

Japanese automaker Infiniti will be in attendance in Geneva next month where they recently announced through a press release and accompanied by two teaser images the unveiling of a new concept car called the ‘Etheria Concept’.

While Infiniti did not officially divulge the name of the concept, our wandering eyes saw the name on one of the image files. Unless it’s a genius way of redirection, we’re pretty sure that the name was left by accident.

In any case, Infiniti did say that the Etheria concept will be unlike any car we’ve seen from the company – to see is to believe, we say – and that if it does end up on the production block, it’s going to be slotted just below the brand’s existing G-Line.

The two teaser images didn’t divulge any helpful details on the car except for a few swooping lines that suggest that this concept may be come as a hatchback. Then again, that’s just our best educated guess.

Press Release after the jump

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