Infiniti has big plans for Europe, and the Emerg-E concept proves just how ambitious the company is. Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, it combines stunning design with an advanced plug-in hybrid powertrain to lay the template for a possible future range-topping model.
So when Infiniti announced that the very first running prototype would be making its world driving debut on the hillclimb at last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, it was too good an opportunity to miss. I hopped into our G37 Convertible and arranged an exclusive photoshoot the evening before the doors opened to the public.
There are some similarities: both are three-door coupes and both use soft, flowing lines instead of the sharp, straight creases favoured by European manufacturers. But if you want drama, the Emerg-E blows the G37 clean out of the water. Although it borrows the Lotus Evora’s chassis, the body and cabin are all Infiniti’s work. And the way the panels overlap and fold back on themselves is incredible to behold, especially up close.
Powering the Emerg-E up the famous Goodwood hillclimb (with Red Bull F1 driver Mark Webber at the wheel) was a pair of electric motors sending 402bhp to the rear wheels. Infiniti claims that, given enough space, the Emerg-e will do 0-60mph in four seconds and top out at 130mph.
What makes this concept so clever is the fact there’s a mid-mounted three-cylinder petrol engine on board, too. This fires up and acts as a generator when the batteries run low – extending the car’s 30-mile electric-only range to around 300 miles. And even with the engine switched on, the Emerge-e emits only 55g/km of CO2. Our G37 can’t muster performance like that, and CO2 emissions of 264g/km mean it’s very inefficient in comparison.
But at least it’s now back to full working order after the problems we reported in Issue 1,217. When Infiniti heard about the quality issues we were having, it immediately offered to collect the G37, drop off a replacement car and replace the parts that had come loose.
I suggested driving the car myself to the flagship dealer in Reading, Berks, but Infiniti insisted this wasn’t special treatment for Auto Express: it offers the same pick-up and drop-off service for all its customers. So we sat back and let it take care of everything.
The car we were left with for a week was an FX crossover – Infiniti’s answer to the BMW X6. While it’s not as rewarding and accomplished as its rival on the road, it’s still brimming with character.
It’s just a shame Infiniti didn’t drop off its other Goodwood star: the 414bhp FX Sebastian Vettel Edition. Limited to only 50 examples in Europe, the £100,800 SUV also made its driving debut at Goodwood with, you guessed it, none other than double F1 world champ Vettel himself at the wheel.
“Given the Infiniti’s sleek and sophisticated image, its rorty exhaust note comes as a surprise. Even at low speed, there’s a snarling soundtrack.”
Owen Mildenhall Senior road tester
“The brand has no cachet or prestige – it simply turns out tarted-up Nissans. I wouldn’t choose one of these cars over a BMW or even a Lexus.”
F1lBloke via www.autoexpress.co.uk