Infiniti’s debut of the Etherea Concept means that it is prepared to take on rivals such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series with a new compact hatchback that is currently in development. This car’s underpinnings will be borrowed from the Mercedes-Benz parts bin. The technology partnership between Nissan/Renault and Daimler involves use of the front-wheel-drive platform built for Benz’s A- and B-Class family.
It’s believed that this Infiniti hatch will be built on its own version of the platform. The design used by Infiniti’s compact will be unusual for a five-door hatchback.
It has less of a two-box shape like that of the Audi A3. It’s likely that this may mean that Infiniti will be offering a small, low crossover. But what’s more probable is that this will be regular car that has a fastback profile. Its basic powertrains will be gasoline while in Europe, diesel will be offered. However, it’s possible that Infiniti will offer a version that’s either a hybrid or fully electric version.
What’s odd about this development is why Nissan and Renault, which have extensive experience in producing front-wheel-drive platforms, would go to Mercedes-Benz, which is known for its bigger, pricier, rear-wheel-drive luxury vehicles.
Nissan’s Executive Vice President Andy Palmer addressed this issue and said that what the company is trying to achieve is to create a product that has excellent torsional rigidity and NVH that’s much better than that of a mass brand. However, this product would also have to be priced closer to a mass brand. [source: Caranddriver]