Nissan is no stranger to electric vehicles. The company was first to launch an all-electric vehicle in the mainstream automotive market with the Leaf in 2010 and has shown numerous EV concepts over the years. It’s therefore natural that the Japanese company would also want to feature this technology on vehicles bearing the nameplate of its luxury division, Infiniti.
An entirely different proposition to the Nissan branded vehicles; the Emerg-e is the first mid-engined sports car ever following ‘Inspired Performance’ as its design ethos. Built on an aluminum chassis and cloaked carbon fiber, the Emerg-e is a Lotus Evora 414E under the skin, which enabled the project to come to fruition in just over a year.
“We wanted to show the Infiniti form language in a mid-ship package,” says the Emerg-e’s lead exterior designer, Randy Rodriguez, who penned the design at NDA in San Diego, CA. “We wanted to take the cues from the previous concepts and advance it as far as we could.”
The double arched grille and triangular headlamps retain Infiniti’s existing brand characteristics, while two main character lines, inspired by wind and water, flow along the bodyside, conveying a sense turbulent fluidity. They in turn jut out below the beltline at the A-pillar before jettisoning into the streamlined air intakes that mimic the furl of the neck of a Japanese Kimono.
Rodriguez was also inspired by a woman’s body draped in silk as well as Japanese samurai suits, both of which show off muscular and sensual forms beneath. Signature elements, such as the crescent-shaped C-pillar, and intersecting convex and concave surfaces create a visual link with the Essence and Etherea concepts, giving the vehicle its layered look whilst simultaneously appearing lithe and taut.
However, the Emerg-e’s design is as much about function as it is form. Efficiency driven and tuned in the wind tunnel, the design includes cutouts in the roof, bodyside and rear quarterlight to guide air to the powerplant and batteries via carbon fiber tubing, which also doubles as a structural element in the interior. Solar panels in the roof power interior components while the tapering glasshouse and backlight contribute to create a shape with a .34Cd figure. Though some designers we spoke to in Geneva thought the design was a bit busy, we feel a halo sports car product should be aggressive, passionate and purposeful. To that end, the Emerg-e fulfills its objective beautifully, blending the design language of the luxury brand with something that is poignant, dramatic, dynamic and functional.
Rodriguez joined interior designer Bert Dehaes and colour and trim designer Gail Patrick in the NDE studio in London, UK, where the designers worked on both the exterior and interior models side by side. “I really wanted to bring a bit of excitement from the exterior to the interior,” says Dehaes. “We wanted to get some nice 3D sculpture based on the sculptural forms of the exterior.”
To overcome the absence of aural attributes typically associated with a supercar, the design team incorporated visual elements in the form of recessed purple-coloured lighting in the seats, centre console and floorboards. Covered by lightweight Sefar – used in architecture to cover large panes of glass – the transparent nature of the material allows the lighting to show through, pulsing to life when the user enters the cabin. Like the exterior, the interior successfully communicates the sports car’s intentions through a design that is pared down and uncluttered – a minimalist approach that enhances the feeling of space whilst communicating the cleanness of the powerplant. As a further nod to sustainability, the leather used in the cabin was also locally sourced and created through environmentally friendly processes.
The Infiniti Emerg-e was undoubtedly one of the stars of this year’s Geneva motor show. As a halo product showcasing Infiniti’s ambitions in the performance EV segment – albeit range-extended – the car’s voluptuous supercar proportions embody a distinctively Japanese design aesthetic and combine form and function to create a harmonious balance. We hope Nissan’s upper management gives it the green light to production.
Photography by Eric Gallina
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