Infiniti has begun testing its Etherea concept model with Sebastian Vettel in France.
The new car, described as being entry-level, will open up a new market sector for Infiniti. The Etherea concept was first seen at the Geneva motor show with Infiniti saying the Etherea would introduce a new type of luxury for younger car buyers. The Etherea will be based on the Mercedes A-class and will be built at Nissan's Sunderland plant.
Infiniti says testing currently being done by Sebastian Vettel in his role as director of performance for the brand will directly influence future models, including the Etherea.
Testing is currently being done at Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The current Formula One World Champion said: “As new Infiniti cars are created, it is really important for us to develop them with their own consistent driving style, so it has been really useful to be able to drive so many cars hard and back-to-back on the same track.
“Similar to Formula One cars, it’s interesting to feel how different cars are configured for steering response and braking, as well as driver-assistance features like ESP and Traction Control. Getting these things right is what makes a good car great.”
Vettel has increased his partnership with the Infiniti brand, having started in 2011, to help develop several vehicles including its latest model, the Q50 and the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition.