This is the Infiniti Essence, a styling experiment that could give clues to the shape of a future performance hybrid from the Japanese manufacturer.
Created to celebrate Infiniti's 20th birthday, the Essence is powered by a petrol hybrid system which combines a twin-turbocharged version of Infiniti’s familiar 3.7-litre petrol V6 with a powerful electric motor to produce up to 600bhp.
It drives the rear wheels through Infiniti’s seven-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission, already offered in the V8-powered FX luxury SUV.
Infiniti has already said it plans for “a performance hybrid” for production, and insiders say Essence’s set-up is close to reality. For Europe, Infiniti’s top priority is to offer diesel models (featuring a Renault-derived 3.0 litre V6), but the hybrid could come in the forthcoming Infiniti big saloon, expected next year. Nissan's luxury marque would then be on a par with older-established luxury brands in offering both diesel and hybrid models.
According to chief designer Shiro Nakamura, Essence’s eye-catching combination of rolling shapes along its sides, combined with full but simple planes across the bonnet, indulges the Japanese desire to follows shapes from nature, this time drawing inspiration from the sea.
The three-dimensional grille and extreme L-shaped headlights are close to existing Infiniti production shapes, but they push them much further.
“This is purely a concept,” said Nakamura, “and it has no chance of being built, But it’s no secret that we are looking to extend our range into new areas, and we think the boldness and luxury of Essence’s shape shows that we have the potential to do that."