“A halo car would help us,” Andreas Sigl, the head of Infiniti’s F1 operations told us recently. “It could bridge the gap between Infiniti and F1.” Whoa, slow down there, maestro. To us, this sounds like trying to bridge the gap between Acura and roast beef. Infiniti isn’t looking for a product that’s actually halfway between its current lineup and an 18,000-rpm open-wheeler; the idea would be to offer a car that makes the relationship between Infiniti and Red Bull Racing, the company it sponsors, a bit more understandable.
Infiniti Emerg-E concept (2012)
What Sigl and others at Nissan tell us is that a final decision hasn’t been made yet on what Infiniti’s halo car would look like. An Infiniti version of the Nissan GT-R has been totally ruled out. The Infiniti Emerg-E, a concept EV sports car with a mid-mounted range-extending engine, is another option. Co-developed with Lotus and closely related to the Evora, the Emerg-E debuted at the Geneva auto show in March. Since then, several running prototypes have been built, and later this week at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Infiniti will show a running example to the public for the first time. But this progress doesn’t mean the car is confirmed for production. We hear from people outside of Nissan that the Emerg-E simply may not deliver performance that’s appropriate for a halo sports car.
The prime alternative could spring from a 2009 Infiniti concept called the Essence. That car still looks great three years later and word is—not from Sigl, but from other sources at the company—that some form of the Essence still is on the table. It seems likely that a production version’s powerplant would deviate from the concept’s twin-turbo V-6 and electric motor. If we’re talking halo for Infiniti, we think something with more than six cylinders should be a requirement.
A third option would see Infiniti offer more than one sports car at the top of its lineup. A production Emerg-E might be a good halo for Infiniti’s green image, while something else—the Essence or a completely new design—might deliver some of the F1 connection that Sigl says the company wants.