Infiniti’s version of the GTR?

Without doubt one of the most striking unveilings at this year’s Geneva
Motor Show, Infiniti’s all-new Essence Concept has been revealed in
full today and is expected be one of the most important designs for the
luxury brand for some time to come. The new concept car is called the
‘Essence’ and it has been designed in part to celebrate Infiniti’s 20th
birthday.

The vehicle’s chief stylist Mamoru Aoki has described it as an
“exploration into the brand’s future” so hopefully we can expect to see
some of its muscular proportions and elegant design traits filter
across to Infiniti’s production cars. Like BMW’s Concept CS from a few
years back, the Essence is a brand icon.

The dramatic
design, technology and performance statement is a 592hp (442kW)
petrol-electric hybrid coupe. The vehicle is built around a
front-engined RWD chassis. It stretches 4.7m in length and has been
designed to seat only two.

When designing the vehicle, Infiniti looked at who its potential
customers would be. The profile the design team came up with was an
uncompromising, risk-taking 42-year-old passionate about the best
things in life, but equally passionate about not flaunting them. In
keeping with this profile, the styling has been made overt yet it is
still powerful and perfectly proportioned.

The bonnet is long and the rear deck short. Together with a flowing
wave profile between muscular front and rear wheelarches, the Essence
has all the classic sports car design cues. The side windows appear to
be resting on a ledge, with sharp lines in contrast to the concave
sweep of the upper body, and these are matched with concave scoops at
the rear. One of the most distinctive details is the trim around the
side air vents. The simple shape is based on the “kanzashi” – a hairpin
used by women when wearing the kimono.

More familiar Infiniti cues include the lights. At the front the
signature L-shaped modules taper back on to the bulging guards, picked
out at their top edge by a row of LEDs. Also at the rear is a spoiler
finished in stainless steel.

The drivetrain is where the Essence really shines. The hybrid system
delivers a healthy 592hp (442kW) of power. It features a
twin-turbocharged 3.7L V6 engine mated to an electric motor, which can
work independently or together as a “parallel” hybrid system. At low
speeds, the Essence will emit zero emissions. The engine by itself
produces up to 446hp (333kW) thanks to the turbos as well as a new
direct-injection system.

The Essence also previews a new type of electric motor, called 3D
Motor, that was designed to meet tough requirements on size and power
output. The result is a particularly slim, disc-shaped motor that has
twice the torque of a conventional unit. Its design was achieved by 3D
magnetic field analysis to optimise the layout of the electromagnetic
coils and permanent magnets.

The motor is positioned between the engine and transmission. It draws
its power from a compact lithium-ion battery pack in the boot area.

Optimized energy useage across the widest possible range of driving
conditions is guaranteed by two separate clutches which “switch in” the
motors as required. It is a system that needs no torque converter,
further enhancing responsiveness.

For the interior, designers have gone for a minimalist look but have
also called upon luxury brand Louis Vuitton to help complete it. The
asymmetrical cabin is divided into two areas separated by a large
curving console between the seats that sweeps around to merge with the
centre of the dashboard. The result is two very distinct cocoons. The
driver’s side is themed black, the passenger’s “cocoon” an earthy red.

A flat-bottomed steering wheel and chronometer-style dials provide a
sporty look and is matched with a pair of paddle shifters located
behind the wheel. Materials used for the cabin include leather,
Alcantara, hand-painted wood and plenty of aluminum.

Safety features include Infiniti’s new Safety Shield, which adds
Distance Control Assist and Lane Departure Prevention systems. There
are also nanny systems for side and rear collisions, as well as a
pre-charge braking system.

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