Infiniti introduced the Etherea concept in Geneva earlier this year. It’s smaller than a sedan but with a crossover’s height, a hatchback’s utility and a coupe’s style. It’s got a little bit of everything – it seems – and aimed at a younger, professional driver who isn’t looking to own his parent’s car, but who still wants to enjoy the same standard of luxury.
The latest news for the Etherea is that it might be rolling out onto production lines next year, thanks to an Infinti-Mercedes-Benz partnership, announced unofficially. Infiniti will use the A-Class platform to build an entry-level coupe-hatchback, which has lead to speculation that a production version of the Etherea might be signed off early next year.
Infiniti engineers have packed the Etherea with a four-cylinder, gas and diesel engine, which in the A-Class delivers 200-horsepower, and is matched with seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission with front-wheel drive.
In February, Infiniti presented the concept Etherea equipped with a gas-electric hybrid, four cylinder powertrain based on the M 35 h model, which is picking up accolades as the fastest green car currently on the road. Quick response from the electric motor is a feature, offering ready power for acceleration, parking and city manoeuvring, directing everything to the front wheels through continuously variable transmission. This is a first for the Infiniti luxury cars.
Also in common with the M 35 h is independent suspension electric/hydraulic steering and regenerative braking, but with emphasis on “torsional rigidity”, which decreases noise, vibration and harshness, delivering a seriously smooth performance.
It’s got quite an array of interior features as well that not only cater to the driver: twin touch screens, climate control, good stereo and kimono-inspired seat piping. Lacking a B-pillar, the four-seat platform and flat floor easily accommodates adults.
Infiniti has announced that it intends to conquer more of the luxury segment, covering ten per cent more market share by 2016. Part of this plan is expanding its outlets, and varying its range, branching out from crossover SUVs to hatchbacks and compact luxury cars.
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