Mar 7, 2011

The Infiniti ETHEREA, a special concept vehicle designed to preview how a future Infiniti entry-level compact performance luxury sedan could look, debuted at the 81st International Geneva Motor Show.

ETHEREA is designed to project both an “evolving Infiniti identity” and a profile that is distinctly different from any current vehicle available in the premium compact class, according to a press release.

“ETHEREA is about a new type of luxury for younger buyers,” said Toru Saito, corporate vice president and leader of the Global Infiniti Business Unit. “It is not just a smaller version of a typically conservative and traditional luxury car.”

Designed under the direction of Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president of design, ETHEREA blends elements of coupe, sedan, hatchback and even crossover designs in one highly sculptural, near-mono volume form, according to the company.

At just over 14 feet in length, it is highly compact but designed to be space-efficient and practical. Accents include new high-tech interpretations of traditional Japanese materials and finishes, and several design cues set to make their mark on future production models, including the highly distinctive crescent-shaped C-pillar first seen on the Infiniti Essence concept.

The front-wheel drive concept has been designed for a potent yet highly efficient hybrid drivetrain based around the innovative one electric motor/twin clutch system used in the new Infiniti M Hybrid.

A supercharged 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 245 hp provides quick response and strong acceleration throughout the performance range. Boosting power when more is needed-and providing silent, emissions-free driving at low speeds-is an electric motor.

The transmission is a continuously variable (CVT) type. An independent suspension, regenerative braking and advanced drive-by-wire electric/hydraulic steering further enhance performance.