Infiniti will launch a halo sports car in the next three years, using hybrid technology explored with the Emerg-e and Essence concepts.

Consequently, the car is likely to use range-extender or plug-in hybrid technology, giving it a wide appeal to its likely audience: premium car customers in their late 20s, likely with just a single child and with a high degree of environmental awareness.

With the majority of buyers expected to come from Asia, the car is likely to be designed around their tastes, too.

“These customers are widely referred to as ‘little emperors’ —people who are used to getting what they want,” said Infiniti brand boss Andy Palmer. 

Palmer likened the final product to being “like the Tesla sports car option, but with more flexibility in terms of range”, hinting at the likely powertrain.

The two-seat, rear-drive Emerg-e used a Lotus-derived 1.2-litre petrol engine and two electric motors with a combined power output of 402bhp.

The Essence, meanwhile, used a hybrid drivetrain involving a 3.7-litre V6 mated to an electric motor, which could work individually or together to produce peak power of up to 592bhp.

Palmer ruled out using the existing powertrain from the high-performance Nissan GT-R, saying that it was “not suitable for Infiniti”. 

He added: “There are all sorts of issues, especially around NVH [noise, vibration and harshness]. Our target customers are not people who compromise, so we need to ensure we deliver the best of everything.”

A halo car is seen as crucial to the firm’s ambitious growth plans from fewer than 200,000 global annual sales today to 500,000 by 2020, as it battles to improve brand awareness, notably in emerging markets.

Infiniti has already made great strides in this area through its sponsorship of the Red Bull Formula 1 team, and senior management is said to see a hugely desirable sports car as another step on that path.

As an example of what could be achieved, Palmer cited a metric that recorded a rise in awareness in China from 19 to 29 per cent in two years because of its Formula 1 involvement.

“Every rise in awareness should have a direct impact on sales, provided we are doing our job right every step of the way,” said Palmer.