Infiniti, the luxury brand of Nissan, makes some incredibly beautiful cars, and the Essence Concept that they premiered at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show in March was no different. Word has come down that the Essence will not make it into full production, but a lot of the design cues and technology in the car will find their way into future Infiniti vehicles. So, with a look to the breathtakingly gorgeous future, here’s a rundown of what got everybody so excited about the Essence.
Under the hood of the Essence concept is a variant of the 3.7-liter V6 that powers so many of the brand’s, and Nissan’s, vehicles. This version has twin turbochargers and direct injection, pumping the output up to 434 horsepower. Only 434 horsepower, you say? In a car that looks like a futuristic space rocket? Well, the total brake horsepower output of the vehicle is 592, thanks to the inclusion of a 158 horsepower electric motor. That’s right, the Essence is a hybrid. A ridiculously powerful hybrid.
The Essence Concept is the first vehicle shown to the public that features Infiniti’s hybrid drive, and they picked a heck of a body to put it in. The Infiniti brand has cemented a reputation in the market for providing great looking cars that are fun to drive. This iteration of their hybrid drivetrain shows that they are not planning to give up that heritage anytime soon. The press release that accompanied the Essence’s debut says that the car is “capable of vast speeds where conditions allow, zero emissions where they don’t.” This gets at the heart of what holds a lot of people back from buying hybrids. When you’re in an urban area and you can’t really go faster than 25-30 mph because of stop lights and pedestrians, hybrids are great. But when you get on the highway, you want to be able to accelerate to cruising speed relatively quickly, which hybrids don’t let you do. The Essence would do this, and let you go far beyond cruising speed as well.
So the drivetrain is impressive, and the exterior holds up to Infiniti’s heritage of good-looking cars. The car is very long, about 4.7 meters (a little shy of 15.5 feet), which helps to give it that very low-slung and aggresive look, especially considering that its peak height is 1.3 meters, or 4.25 feet. If you meet anybody who doesn’t think that the Essence is a beautiful car, then run away from them, because they are obviously not human.
The interior is failry utilitarian, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t similarly beautiful. The seats feature an odd stitching pattern that Inifiniti says is meant to evoke the knot style that Japanese men and women use to tie kimonos, and there’s also hand-painted wood trim that takes its cues from Japanese laquerware. The Essence is truly a hybrid, in both drivetrain and design. The utilitarian, Japanese tradition-inspired interior makes an unlikely partner to the massive length (which wouldn’t make it very far in a crowded Japanese city street), but it works.
It is unfortunate that the Essence Concept will never hit full production, but that is an understandable decision. Realistically, the car would be very expensive and would be stuck in market limbo. People who want to get an environmentally-friendly hybrid won’t want to pay a bunch of money for that supercar-esque parts, and those who want a supercar would want a thorough bred. Still, the car is a tantalizing preview of what can be expected from Infiniti in the coming years, both in terms of design and technology.