2011 Geneva Motor Show Preview: Infiniti Etherea Concept

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 14, 2011

Infiniti released today the first images with the Etherea Concept, a new concept car which will be unveiled in March at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. As expected, the new concept previews the production version of the upcoming entry-level Infiniti, set to take on cars such as the Bmw 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The Etherea Concept was designed under the direction of Senior Vice President of Design Shiro Nakamura and blends the elements of coupé, sedan, hatchback and even crossover in one highly sculptural, near-mono volume form.

Etherea has a total length of 4.4 meters and offers plenty of space with new mechanical layout and innovative access arrangements. Some of the features introduced by the new Infiniti Etherea are the highly distinctive crescent-shaped C-pillar first seen on the Essence concept . The new interpretations of traditional Japanese materials and finishes, and several design cues are set to make their mark on future production model.

The enigmatic appeal of the Infiniti Etherea Concept could be attributed to the fact that it features the characteristics of several vehicles styles. This sporty concept derived its elegance from a coupe and its roominess from a sedan.

It also derived its practicality from a hatchback and its height from crossover. However, the main beauty of the Etherea lies on the fact that it offers a high level of driving pleasure and a high degree of design. After all, Infiniti designed Etherea Concept to be provided with a potent but highly efficient hybrid drivetrain derived from a platform that the premium carmaker has developed. Also, Infiniti developed this concept to feature the electric motor/twin clutch system featured in the Infiniti M35h hybrid.

Providing the needed power for the Infiniti Etherea Concept is a 245-PS supercharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine and a silent emission-free electric motor. Power from these sources is transmitted to front wheels through a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Actually, the hybrid powertrain of the Etherea Concept -- like that in the M35h – has been developed to use electric power more frequently on longer periods and at higher vehicle speeds than what most hybrids could accomplish. This means that the Etherea Concept – compared to other hybrids – consumes less fuel and emits less carbon dioxide while still providing the needed driving dynamics. Of course, there is a need to balance the concern for the environment and the quest for performance.

This balance was achieved on the Etherea Concept by employing an array of features that include regenerative braking, independent suspension, and advanced drive-by-wire electric/hydraulic steering. On the other hand, the design of the Etherea was born in Japan under the guidance of Shiro Nakamura. It features a number of elements found on the Essence concept supercar, which hints that the Etherea takes more inspiration from a coupé than a hatchback.

However, Etherea is still as practical as a hatchback, as evidenced by its large lift-up tailgate. Etherea sits on an in-house platform that allows it to feature a long wheelbase and minimal overhangs for a distinctive sporting appeal. While the bonnet of Etherea is shorter than that of rear-drive Infinitis, its proportions are excellent and its overall appearance is well-balanced too. Giving this concept its unique Infiniti signature is the distinct crescent C-pillar.

Inside, the Etherea concept is spacious enough to accommodate four occupants. Entering and exiting the vehicle has been made easier by an H-point that is higher than a typical compact luxury car. Emphasizing this feature are four wide opening doors that are rear-hinged at the back. This concept also lacks a B-pillar for a greater sense of freedom.

Nonetheless, the Etherea Concept features an evolution of the vaunted Infiniti design language. For instance, its headlights further define the Infiniti "face." These curve-shaped headlamps feature daytime running lights formed from of a crescent of LEDs. Interestingly, these new lights are bound to become an Infiniti signature element. Nakamura remarked that other exterior and interior elements will have an important influence on future Infiniti production models.

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