Months ahead of the Geneva Auto Show in March, Japanese automaker Infiniti is teasing a concept model so advanced it doesn’t even have a name yet. Mysteriously referred to only as the “Advanced Sports Car Concept,” the company has yet to release any full photos of the car, hasn’t show any concept sketches and has only spilled a few drops of information to the auto press.
The strategy is working. The Euro auto press is all atwitter about the release and journalists and photographers are scrambling for images, specs – any tidbit of news on the new concept.
So what do we know about that … thing … Nissan’s luxury division is keeping under the sheets? In a recent press release, Nissan finally dropped some hints. Not many, mind you, but a few to allow speculators to begin filling in the pieces.
Infiniti said the new concept will be a range-extended mid-engine sports car. In a range-extended electric, the car is powered exclusively by electric power provided by a battery pack. The range-extension bit comes from a gasoline engine that, instead of sending power to the wheels, sends power to a generator which in turn charges the battery.
The mid-engine construction of the hybrid also gives us a few hints about the car. Mid-engine vehicles have a couple of advantages over front-engine cars. Since the car’s heaviest components – the battery, electric motors and engine – sit behind the front axle, the entire car has better weight distribution. As a result, vehicle stability, traction and ride quality are naturally improved when turning, braking and accelerating. This is important in a serious, performance-minded sports car because with weight over both front and rear tires, the car can track around corners with greater speed.
One of the drawbacks of a mid-engine car, however, is loss of cabin space. Since most mid-engine cars are two-seaters, this is actually a huge design hint from Infiniti. What do some other mid-engine, high-performance sports cars look like? Well, they usually look pretty awesome. Other mid-engine sports cars include the likes of the Chevy Corvette, the Dodge Viper, BMW Z4, as well as a good chunk of Lotus, Lamborghini, Porsche and Ferrari dream machines.
For its part, Infiniti said the new electric sports car will minimize the traditional compromise between thrilling performance and sustainable mobility. And Nissan bigwig Andy Palmer said the new concept “will present our vision for a totally new kind of inspired premium performance car. Infiniti already has hybrid and clean diesel models on sale. And with an all-electric sedan on the way, the natural next step was to push the boundaries where performance and the environment intersect.”