Presented as a concept at the 79th International Motor Show of Geneva, Essence is a celebration of the company’s 20 years history and an exploration into the brand’s future.
The Essence Concept showcases many of the technologies, including its hybrid powertrain, and design cues that will appear on Infiniti production cars in the next years.
Technical highlights include the hybrid powertrain and the new Side Collision Prevention (SCP) and Back-up Collision Prevention (BCP) safety systems.
The design language takes inspiration from the Japanese culture and calligraphy for the sculptural exterior, while the interior is minimalistic and driver-focused.
From the official Press Release:
Infiniti’s “Dynamic Adeyaka” attitude ensures Essence is single-minded, but also inviting, sophisticated and born of inspiration from both the human and natural worlds.
To boost its emotional appeal, it features details that bring a very modern take to some very old Japanese traditions.
The designers’ aim was to merge all existing Infiniti design cues with fresh design language in a shape that the 20-year-old marque has never before attempted.
The hood is long and the rear deck short. Together with a flowing “wave” profile between muscular front and rear wheel arches, Essence at first appears to be in the classic sports car mold – but there is nothing retro about Essence.
The side window graphics bring a particularly innovative and distinctive edge to the styling. The window appears to be resting on a ledge, its razor sharp line in contrast to the concave sweep of the upper body just below it.
The rear section also features complex surfacing with concave “scoops” that flow down the rear pillars from one of Essence’s most distinctive design cues: a C-shaped kink to the side windows’ trailing edge. Outlined by a wide flourish of stainless steel, it adds instant movement to the car even when it is standing still.
One of the most distinctive details is the trim around the side air vents. The simple shape, finished in aluminium, is based on the “kanzash,” a hairpin used by women when wearing the kimono.
Other lines and details are inspired by the wide brush strokes of Japanese calligraphy. Essence represents a successful merging of iconic cultural cues with automotive aesthetics.
Essence’s front is characterised by Infiniti’s signature double-arch grille, set at an angle that suggests the car is about to leap forward.
At the front, as over the rest of the car, Essence eschews superfluous body embellishments that could interrupt the graceful strength of the whole.
The grille is framed by subtle strips of stainless steel but there’s little other trim and no other grilles or intakes, not even fog lights.
The door handles are slivers of push buttons flush with the body, while even the rearview mirrors must make way for minuscule cameras teased out of the A-pillars.
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.
Slender fillets of red light curve around the car at the back, overlapping with the trunk opening and framing the spoiler, which appears to have been pushed out from within the car.
The trunk was developed in cooperation with Louis Vitton, which first worked with a coachbuilder – the Kellner Company – in 1908, and in the first part of the 20th century used to produce made-to-measure trunks.
The collaboration between Infiniti and Vuitton revives the idea of a set of high quality luggage made to fit exactly a car’s trunk area. In Essence, there are three rigid pieces: a matched pair of slender briefcases atop a large trunk. All are made in the new Damier Graphite canvas and feature sleekly integrated handles and an overall design in harmony with the car itself. In addition, a button on the key fob electrically opens the trunk lid, allowing the trunk floor to slide silently rearwards.
The asymmetrical cabin is divided into two areas separated by a large curving console between the seats that sweeps around to merge with the center of the dashboard. The driver’s side is themed black, the passenger’s “cocoon” an earthy red.
A flat-bottomed steering wheel, chronometer-style dials, bright red engine start button, and short, alloy-topped gear selector announce to the driver this is a serious performance machine.
Other interior features include larger gear change paddle shifters behind the wheel and a signature Infiniti analog clock.
With the materials used – leather, Alcantara, hand-painted wood inspired by traditional Japanese lacquerware – the cabin exudes a rich and inviting warmth. Essence’s interior promotes a sense of well being which is key to the Infiniti driving experience.
Essence’s drivetrain is designed to meet the highest expectations of owners by delivering the one thing everyone expects of an Infiniti – sheer driving pleasure. In Essence, that pleasure is taken to new heights, at the same time as previewing an innovative green hybrid engine. Essence is unusual even in the rarefied atmosphere of the world’s fastest road cars by being able to call on a mighty 592 horsepower.
Like the design, the performance is designed to be sophisticated and unobtrusive – performance with a human touch.
The hybrid system combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor. These can work independently or together as a “parallel” hybrid system.
In “power assist” mode the full 592 horsepower is unleashed with both gasoline and electric power working together.
A key difference over some 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 DOHC V6 gasoline engine is fitted with twin turbochargers and a new, efficient direct-injection fuel system, boosting power to 434 horsepower.
The new type of electric motor, called 3D Motor, was designed to meet tough requirements on size and power output.
The result is a particularly slim, disk-shaped motor that has twice the torque of a conventional unit. Its design was achieved by 3D magnetic field analysis to optimize the layout of the electromagnetic coils and permanent magnets.
In the Essence, the motor is positioned between the engine and transmission and provides 158 horsepower, drawing power from a compact lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk area. Because the 3D Motor operates in both propulsion and power regeneration modes, the battery pack is kept charged up.
Optimized energy usage 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 and driving pleasure.
Safety features include the Distance Control Assist (DCA) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP) systems – already available in today’s production Infinitis – and the new Side Collision Prevention (SCP) and Back-up Collision Prevention (BCP) which extend the anti-collision shield all the way around the car.