And, like almost every company showing their new designs at the Detroit show, Infiniti is hoping their new concept will lead the way in attracting a new generation of young buyers. For Infiniti, that means an interesting design that blurs the lines between a higher-end performance sedan, a more sporty, athletic multi-use hatchback wagon and the elbow room of a crossover SUV.
Under the hood, the new Infiniti crossover is based on the technology that propels the 2012 Infiniti M Hybrid, but instead of the M’s 3.5-liter V6, the front-wheel drive Etherea uses a supercharged 245-horsepower 2.5-liter four cylinder married to a quick-response electric motor all run through an efficient, continually variable transmission.
The Ethera also utilizes regenerative braking to add efficiency. Added together, Infiniti says its hybrid system allows the car to use electric power more often, for longer time periods and at higher speeds than other hybrids.
Outside, the Ethera features some interesting touches. The passenger doors are opposing, rear-hinged “suicide” style with no supporting pillar in the center, creating a spacious, wide-open feel in the car. The Ethera is also a bit taller than a standard sedan, so the car seems a bit more athletic with a more aggressive stance.
Up front, designers included distinct slanted headlights that incorporate LED daytime running lights. Infiniti is saying that this headlight design will be a mainstay on future Infiniti models.
Up in the cockpit, the center of the dashboard features twin screens, accessible to both the driver and the front seat passenger displaying car information, climate control, and stereo functions. Designers included a number of new interior finishes intended to add a distincly Japanese flavor to the car, including Kumihimo, a kimono-inspired piping on the seats and a new interior trim it’s calling Kasane-Washi, which is inspired by Japanese parchment paper.