Essence blends twin-turbocharged V6 with batteries to produce 600bhp
3 March 2009

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.

>> See more pics of the Infiniti Essence

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.

Read more about Infiniti's hybrid plans

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."

The opulence continues in the cabin, which is divided - both by differing trim and a huge, wall-like centre console, inclined towards the driver - into two separate cockpits. The instruments are again reminiscent of Infiniti’s bright production dials, but the control layout carries a ‘hidden technology’ theme.

This, Infiniti claims, is meant to contain all modern gadgets, but express them in a hierarchy which suits the many drivers who need and use only the most basic of them.

Steve Cropley

Geneva cars: news and images

Chery DR, Ferrari 599XX, Ford Iosis Max, Frazer Nash Namir, Hyundai ix-onic, Infiniti Essence, Kia No3, Lagonda Concept, Lamborghini Murcielago SV, Land Rover Freelander TD4_e, Mazda CX-7, Mini JCW Cabriolet, Mitsubishi iMIEV Sport Air, Nissan Qazana, Renault Megane RS, RUF Greenster, Skoda Fabia vRS, Skoda Yeti, Tata Nano Europa, Toyota Prius, Volkswagen Polo see Mike Duff's in-depth Geneva show coverage

Lagonda Concept, Skoda Yeti, Rolls Royce 200 EX, Vauxhall Ampera, Nissan Qazana, Infiniti Essence, Bentley Continental Supersports, Ford Iosis Max

Video blogs from the show floor

Audi TT RS, Ferrari 599XX, Hyundai ix-onic concept, Kia No3, Lamborghini Murcielago SV, Mercedes E-class coupe, Peugeot 3008, Renaultsport Megane, Subaru Legacy, VW Polo

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