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Infiniti May Look To Essence Concept, Not Emerg-E For Flagship

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On: Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 12:12PM | By: Chris Weiss


Infiniti May Look To Essence Concept, Not Emerg-E For Flagship

 "Infiniti EMERG-E is physical proof of Infiniti’s intention to produce a bold halo model befitting the brand’s promise of Inspired Performance, and also signals an array of exciting new technologies that the brand will adopt in its quest to build dramatic and sustainable high performance cars." Infiniti used that sentence to introduce the Emerg-E performance hybrid at this year's Geneva Motor Show. While the statement doesn't say that the Emerg-E will be the "bold halo model," it certainly implies it. The fact that Infiniti has built a working prototype supplies further evidence.

Things may not be so clear cut, however. A new report casts doubt on whether the Emerg-E will be Infiniti's halo car, suggesting that Nissan's luxury arm will reach further back in its concept car portfolio. 

Car & Driver reports that the Emerg-E is still under consideration for the flagship role but may not offer the type of performance that Infiniti desires. Instead (or in addition), the automaker might build a production version of the Essence concept it debuted in 2009.

While we loved the Emerg-E - and the idea of a performance range-extender in general - the concept's 402-hp powertrain would make for questionable 'halo performance car' status. The Nissan GT-R's twin-turbo V-6 engine puts out 545-hp and motivates it to 60 mph in under 3 seconds. Without some reconfiguration, the Emerg-E would be destined to play second fiddle to the GT-R in terms of outright power and performance.

Another logical option would be to create a more upscale sports car based on the GT-R. This approach was rumored to be among three or four possibilities last year, but according to Car & Driver's report, is now officially off the table.

The option that the magazine seems to feel is the most likely is a sports car based on the Essence concept. At 592-hp, that concept car rolls out of the gate with more power than any other sports car in Nissan/Infiniti's line-up. The Essence is a hybrid like the Emerg-E, but it isn't an electric-driven range extender. It uses a 434-hp twin-turbo 3.7-liter V-6 to drive the rear wheels, kicking in another 158 horses from an electric motor in "power assist" mode. As such, it's more a pure performance sports car than the Emerg-E, something that seems to be weighing in its favor. It also brings a little of the Emerg-E's green cred in that the motor can power the car alone for short chunks of slow city driving.

Car & Driver suggests that Infiniti may look to replace the concept's powertrain with a V-8 (or larger) engine.




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