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Infinity Luxury Performance Hybrid Concept Essense at Geneva Auto Show

Posted on March 10, 2009
Filed Under Car Show, Prototypes | Leave a Comment

infiniti-essence-vuitton2009 is the 20th anniversary of the Infiniti brand. Nissan is celebrating the success of its luxury line of performance cars by introducing a hybrid coupe with an impressive 592-horsepower engine at the Geneva Auto Show, which started today.

Did I say impressive?  I meant knock-your-socks-off 592-hp engine.

The Infiniti Essense concept is a rear-wheel-drive gasoline/electric hybrid coupe that showcases many of the technologies, including hybrid, plus design cues that indicate the direction of Infiniti production cars of the coming years.  As I wrote here yesterday, concept cars are an important glimpse into what a manufacturer is planning, and like the fuel-efficient Ford Iosis MAX compact SUV concept, the Infiniti Essense hybrid concept is a winner.

Here’s why:

This is a front-engined, rear-wheel drive luxury coupe.  A two-seater sports car that just happens to be a hybrid that’s capable of high speeds when conditions allow, and zero emissions where they don’t.

It’s beautiful — it looks like a driver’s car, with a long, sloping hood that lets you know there’s a herd of horses underneath.  The front end reminds me of a classic Jaguar XKE.  The rear reminds me of a new Audi R8 and a Nissan GT-R, which makes sense because Nissan is Infiniti’s parent.  The rear section also features distinctive “scoops” that flow down the rear pillars.  They are outlined by a ribbon of stainless steel, which make the car look like it is moving   even when it is standing still.

There’s even Louis Vuitton luggage specially designed to fit the trunk size, to make the most of your long-distance driving. Excuse me — motoring.

Inside, the cabin is Japanese minimalist.  And something new in car design — the driver’s side of the cockpit is themed black while the passenger side is an earthy red.  There’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel, which helps the driver get in and out easily, large paddle shifters behind the wheel, and a bright red engine start button.

The Infiniti Esssence gas-electric hybrid system can work independently or together as a “parallel” hybrid system. In congested city areas, the electric motor works by itself to power the car silently between stoplights, with no tailpipe emissions. When the traffic clears, Essence the “power assist” mode kicks in as many of the 592 horses as you need to pass the 18-wheeler up ahead.

A key difference over other hybrid systems is that both the V6 and the electric motor feed their power only to the rear wheels. Infiniti’s 3.7-liter V6 gasoline engine is fitted with twin turbochargers and a new, efficient direct-injection fuel system with twice the torque of a conventional unit. The motor sits between the engine and transmission and provides 158 horsepower, drawing power from a compact lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk area. Because the motor operates in both propulsion and power regeneration modes, the battery pack stays charged.

The Essence is loaded with safety features, too, including a lane departure system that sounds a warning when the driver changes lanes and there’s another vehicle in that space.  There’s also a back-up collision system which works the same way — if sensors spot another vehicle too close behind the system beeps a warning.  And if you don’t brake fast enough, the on-board computers do it for you.

Now, if they could only come up with a car that washes itself.  And my laundry, too.

SOURCE: Examiner

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