Infiniti designers are looking down the road at a premium entry-level, and the result of their work showed recently at Geneva Motor Show. ?The Ethera, which is about the same size as a Volkswagen Golf, ?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.
?Ethera 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 Senior Vice President of Design Shiro Nakamura, Ethera blends elements of coupe, sedan, hatchback and even crossover designs in one highly sculptural, near-mono volume form.
At just over 14 feet in length, Ethera is highly compact but at the same time it is space efficient and practical ? thanks to a new mechanical layout and innovative access arrangements. Among its surprises are 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.
Ethera?s segment-busting appeal is based on the coming together of several vehicles styles. It is part elegant coupe, part spacious sedan, part practical hatchback and even part tall crossover. And being an Infiniti, there is also a large helping of sports car in the way it drives. The front-wheel drive Ethera 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, developing 245 horsepower, provides quick response and strong acceleration throughout the performance range. Boosting power when more is needed, and providing silent, emission-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.
The spacious four-seat Ethera cabin offers all the luxury that Infiniti owners expect, plus unrivalled ease of access and egress boosted by an H-point, which is higher than that of the average compact luxury car. Four wide-opening doors, rear-hinged at the back, and an absence of B-pillar offer an unprecedented feeling of openness.
As an exploration of a future entry-level Infiniti production model, Ethera can be summed up as a four-door coupe with five-door practicality ? a hatchback that doesn?t look like a hatchback.