Infiniti is confident that the young consumers in Europe will take a liking to its new entry-premium car. However, industry watchers think that the model won’t have an easy challenge of competing with more established models like the BMW 1 series and Audi A3. Infiniti wants to launch this model within four years in order to put up a good fight in the expanding market in Europe for small premium vehicles.
According to company executives, the car would be different from anything presently offered in the premium compact class (not only a smaller version of a conservative luxury car). Jean-Pierre Diernaz, Infiniti Europe marketing director, thinks the model will succeed since it comes with driving performance and style that German luxury brands don’t offer.
At a press event in London, Diernaz told Automotive News Europe that there are a handful of German automakers dominating the luxury market in Europe but then it can’t be expected that the younger buyers would be interested in their parents’ preferred brand. He said that there’s a need for “more-modern luxury models.” We got a preview of this new model’s design from Infiniti's Etherea concept car presented at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show.
Diernaz said that the car’s European launch date is in 2016 however, no specific date was given. This would be the first car that Infiniti makes in Europe. Automotive News Europe sources said that the brand will ink a contract with Magna Steyr to produce about 50,000 to 60,000 units annually of the model in Graz, Austria.
This car would use Mercedes's MFA architecture, which underpins the second-generation A- and B-class model lines. Daimler, the parent of Mercedes, has a technology sharing partnership with Renault-Nissan. IHS Automotive analyst Carlos Da Silva believes that Infiniti has to build up its image in Europe. He thinks that an entry-level model would assist with this goal.
Infiniti Etherea Concept possesses a segment-busting appeal that is inspired by several vehicle styles. It is the coming together of the elegant coupé, the practical hatchback, the tall crossover, and the spacious sedan. And because it is an Infiniti, it is also largely a sports car, especially in the way it drives.
The Etherea, like all Infinitis, prioritizes driving pleasure, alongside design. It has been designed around a highly efficient and powerful hybrid drivetrain that is based on an in-house platform, as well as around an innovative electric motor/twin clutch system that is also used in the Infiniti M35h, which is the marque's first hybrid going on sale currently around Europe.
The concept car boasts a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder supercharged petrol engine developing 245PS, which provides strong acceleration and quick response throughout its performance range. An electric motor, meanwhile, boosts power when the car needs more, as well as provides you with silent and emission-free driving at low speeds. It also has a continuously variable transmission or CVT as well as a front-wheel drive, which is a first for an Infiniti model.
Like the M35h, the Etherea’s hybrid powertrain has been designed to utilize clean electric power more frequently, for longer periods of time, and at higher speeds compared to what hybrids generally manage. This endows the Infiniti Etherea with the advantages of a hybrid out on open roads as well as on busy streets in the city. Moreover, this further maximizes the car’s efficiency and further cuts its CO2 emissions without imposing compromises when it comes to the driving front.
Additionally, the car’s independent suspension, advanced drive-by-wire electric/hydraulic steering, and regenerative braking enhance the balance between its green factor and its performance.