2009 Infiniti Essence Concept

The Infiniti brand launched in Europe during the Geneva motor show last year. This year Infiniti brought its Essence to the show. The Infiniti Essence concept is supposed to look back on the 20 years of Infiniti's existence and also hint at the future of the brand. Some of Infiniti's key traits are technology, design, and performance - and the Essence embodies all three qualities.

To start, the Essence is a rear-wheel drive coupe with a hybrid powertrain. The gasoline engine is a twin-turbo 3.7-liter V-6 rated at 434 hp. There's also a starter-generator stuck between the engine and seven-speed automatic transmission and it adds 158 hp to the total output. Power for the electric motor comes from a lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk. Infiniti's press release claims the car is "capable of vast speeds where conditions allow, zero emissions where they don't." Not a bad compromise, really.

Of course the powertrain doesn't matter in the least once you lay eyes on the car - the Infiniti Essence is stunning in the sheetmetal. The curves are very sexy and the car has an air of elegance that also carries over to the interior. Inside, the driver's portion of the cabin is black and the passenger's left with a lot of red. Supposedly the driver isn't inundated with controls and technology - all the expected functionality remains hidden until the driver chooses to use items like the stereo.

Sadly, the Essence stands no chance of being produced. Francois Bancon, General Manager Advanced Product Planning, said "Essence is a brand icon... It isn't a teaser for a new model. It is solely dedicated to Infiniti brand promotion, to demonstrate and advocate the Infiniti unique values." While the Essence itself may not enter production, we do expect the design cues to filter down to actual production vehicles.

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