Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Geneva 2011: Etherea Concept Hints at Infiniti's BMW 1-Series and Audi A3 Rival

No question, the most significant presence at Infiniti's Geneva Motor Show booth is the brand-new Etherea concept study that provides a first glimpse at an upcoming entry-level model will allow the Japanese brand to compete with the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series. A production version inspired by the Etherea is expected to hit the market by 2014.

The Etherea concept study was designed in Japan under the direction of Shiro Nakamura who incorporated the design language of the 2009 Essence sports car concept into a five-door body style. According to Infiniti, the Etherea is "part elegant coupé, part spacious sedan, part practical hatchback and even part tall crossover".

“ETHEREA is about a new type of luxury,” said Toru Saito, Corporate Vice President and Leader of the Global Infiniti Business Unit. “It is for younger buyers who do not want a smaller version of a typically conservative and traditional luxury car. It is for people who want a car that defines who they are, not who their parents were.”

Infiniti pointed out that many of the styling cues seen on the Etherea such as the tail lamp and headlight designs "are destined to become a familiar Infiniti characteristic" in the firm's next generation of models.

The Etherea's B-pillar-less design and opposing doors open up to a four-seat cabin with a minimalistic styling highlighted by the abundant use of premium materials and trims.

The 4.4m long concept is said to be based on a new platform designed to accept a hybrid powertrain. The Etherea in particular uses a gasoline-electric drivetrain comprising of a 2.5-liter supercharged 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 245HP, an electric motor and a continuously variable transmission (CVT) that drives the front wheels.

An independent suspension, regenerative braking system and advanced drive-by-wire electric/hydraulic steering complete the set up.


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