"It is for younger buyers who do not want a smaller version of a typically conservative and traditional luxury car. It is for people who want a car that defines who they are, not who their parents were."
Encapsulating everything that Infiniti stands for - including no-compromise hybrid power and maximum driving pleasure - in a car 4.4m long, Infiniti Etherea Concept proposes a bold new approach to the premium compact segment. Its dynamic character and highly sculptural, near mono-volume form provide a silhouette unlike anything currently in the class.
"Etherea is completely different from current luxury compact cars," said Senior Vice President of Design, Shiro Nakamura. "That is appropriate for a new generation of drivers who think of themselves as different.
"As an exploration into what a future entry-level Infiniti may be like, Infiniti Etherea Concept is highly significant and a breakthrough in what Infiniti thinks about itself."
Utilising an in-house platform developed for use by Infiniti, the long wheelbase and minimal overhangs guarantee characteristic Infiniti visual poise and sporting appeal. The bonnet may not be as long as that of rear-drive Infinitis, but the proportions are just as finely judged and the overall look just as balanced, with the unique crescent C-pillar offering a dynamic, and very distinctive, Infiniti signature.
The spacious four-seat cabin offers all the luxury that Infiniti owners expect plus unrivalled ease of access and egress, boosted by an H-point which is higher than that of the average compact luxury car. Four wide opening doors, rear-hinged at the back, and an absence of B-pillar offer an unprecedented feeling of openness.
"Other elements of exterior design and interior craftsmanship are set to have an important influence on future production models," said Shiro Nakamura.
The front of Infiniti Etherea Concept offers an unmistakable impression of solidity. In a design that instantly links it to the rest of the Infiniti family, the high bonnet line is fronted by a deep grille. An updated version of Infiniti's familiar double arch design, the grille's translucent mesh finish with illumination is both entirely functional and highly artistic.
Shiro Nakamura says in profile there is a suggestion of a mono-volume design - very different from current contenders in the compact luxury segment.
Just as the front-wheel drive platform presents new design opportunities for an Infiniti on the outside, so too does it allow a bold new approach in the cabin. With its flat floor and welcoming openness, Infiniti Etherea Concept's interior is designed for comfort and space while offering the luxury and craftsmanship Infiniti buyers expect. As Francois Bancon says, "Your first premium luxury car experience should feel like this."
Like any Infiniti the driving position is sporting. The control layout is very driver centric, though not in a way that excludes passengers. Here is a concept where the luxury and sportiness can be shared by all. For example, the centre of the dashboard features twin screens, both as easily accessible to the front seat passenger as the driver. The lower, nearer display is a touch-screen for control of functions such as climate control and entertainment, while the screen further away is used purely to display information.
"Hamon" is the Japanese word for the dashboard dials. It refers to the ripples on a pond that radiate outward when a pebble is thrown into the water. In the same way, the dials radiate outward from the central tachometer. It is an elegant, as well as highly ergonomic, solution.