Infiniti is ramping up the interest factor with the new Emerg-e hybrid sports car concept at the 2012 Geneva motor show. Imagine an Alfa Romeo 4C pepped up with a range-extender powertrain and you're not far from the truth.
The Infiniti Emerg-e is a stunning little coupe, which draws on the 2009 Infiniti Essence supercar for inspiration. Somehow, the pert dimensions slotting halfway between a Porsche Cayman and a McLaren MP4-12C suit the new Infiniti design vibe rather well.
Tell us more about the Infiniti Emerg-e's hybrid powertrain
Ah yes, this is where it gets interesting. Despite those Japanese sports car looks, the beating heart of the Emerg-e is all-British. Yes, it's in fact a Lotus Evora 414E hybrid in drag.
The rolling chassis was supplied by Lotus in Hethel, with an electric motor at either rear wheel to provide a stout 300kW, or 402bhp. But the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine mounted amidshipsnever drives the wheels - this is a range-extender, and the motor merely charges up the lithium ion batteries.
Net result? The Infiniti Emerg-e can accelerate past 60mph in just four seconds, yet drive for 30 miles on zero-emissions EV mode and Infiniti claims a CO2 rating of just 55g/km.
Why has Infiniti teamed up with Lotus?
It's all part of a collaboration endorsed, and part-funded by, the Government's Technology Strategy Board which seeks to encourage the myriad specialists in the UK's nascent clean-fuel cars scene to work together.
After an initial design sketch was picked from Nissan's San Diego, US studio, the project has been largely run from the UK. The final design was completed at the Paddington, London design centre and the engineering completed at the technology centre in Cranfield.
Partners include Lotus, Cranfield University, Evo electric motors and more lesser-known specialists around the UK and Europe.
Infiniti Emerg-e (2012): in detail
Jerry Hardcastle, the engineering chief at Nissan's Cranfield centre, told CAR that the Emerg-e used the latest carbonfibre construction to shave weight.
Unusually for a Nissan concept, this is a full working prototype and Infiniti is building two running vehicles for assessment.
Does that mean they'll build the Emerg-e?
That's the big question, as yet unanswered. François Bancon, the global head of product planning, told CAR that Infiniti may receive a sporting flagship once the next wave of mainstream cars had arrived.
He confirmed a Nissan GT-R-based super-coupe was one of four options being studied for a flagship - and one of that quartet is a car very similar to the Emerg-e.
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