Infiniti has completely unwrapped the stunning retro-futuristic Prototype 9 ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Inspired by classic Japanese racers and aircraft, the car blends stunning proportions with a modern electric powertrain to create one of the most interesting concepts we’ve seen this year.
The show-stopping looks of the Prototype 9 started as a conceptual sketch, inspired by roadsters and classic aircraft. Infiniti says the project was initially a paper-only proposition, but word spread and the production team offered to make the design team’s vision a reality.
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Even though it has an unashamedly old-fashioned silhouette, modern Infiniti design cues like the shark-nosed grille and creased hood have been neatly integrated into the concept. The steel body panels were hammered into shape by hand and are draped over a steel ladder-frame chassis.
The interior has been finished to the same high standard as the exterior, with black-and-red stitched leather seats finished with Japanese flags in the headrests. Infiniti hasn’t only provided concept sketches instead of real images, but says the steering wheel hub houses all the driver instruments, while the rim rotates around it. The minimalist switchgear has been inspired by classic aircraft design.
Having finished the design, Infiniti turned to parent company Nissan for its experience with electric powertrains. This combines a 30 kWh battery with a prototype electric motor, the likes of which haven’t been used on a production car – yet. We wouldn’t be surprised to see some of the tech from this concept feature in the new Nissan Leaf when it launches.
Anyone hoping for Tesla-style performance will be sorely disappointed. The motor makes just 120 kW (148 hp) of power and 320 Nm of torque, all of which is fed to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. It takes 5.5 seconds to hit 100 km/h (62 mph) from standstill, and tops out at 170 km/h (106 mph). Infiniti is claiming you’ll get around 20 minutes of driving on the track, but hasn’t quoted a regular road-going range for the car.
“While the essence of the Infiniti Prototype 9 is rooted in the past, it runs on a next-generation EV powertrain which looks squarely to the future,” says Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President of Infiniti. “It is an excellent example of the ingenuity, craftsmanship and entrepreneurism that characterizes the teams across our company. Prototype 9 comes to life as a dynamic, drivable prototype vehicle at Pebble Beach.”
The Prototype 9 is will be on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. There’s no doubt it looks fantastic (check out the gallery for more images), but we can’t help thinking its middling performance is a missed opportunity for Infiniti. Let us know if you agree in the comments.
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