Infiniti's Emerge-E May Not Be Its Halo Car After All

2009 Pebble Beach Concours

2009 Pebble Beach Concours

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In many ways, Infiniti is a luxury automaker in search of an identity. Its claim to fame has always been building luxury cars with a performance edge, yet the automaker has no flagship sports car to call its own.

That’s particularly problematic when you consider how much the brand is pouring into F1 sponsorship. Formula One world champion and Infiniti spokesman Sebastian Vettel even has a signature Infiniti model, but it’s based on the company’s FX crossover, and we don’t know too many enthusiasts who lust for crossovers.

Even the extended-range electric Infiniti Emerge-E concept, shown in Geneva and once touted as a possible flagship Infiniti sports car, seems to have lost favor among some close to the project.

As Car and Driver tells us, Infiniti will show a running prototype of the Emerge-E at this weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, but the car may not be capable of producing a level of performance expected from a halo sports car.

Infiniti is ruling out a luxury version of the Nissan GT-R, too, which leaves the Infiniti Essence concept shown above as one possible flagship alternative. While the 2009 concept was shown with both a twin-turbo V-6 and an electric motor, it’s entirely possible that Infiniti could produce the car with an internal combustion engine only.

Should Infiniti decide it needs two sports cars atop its model range, the Emerge-E would satisfy those looking for something green as an alternative to the new Acura NSX. The Essence would give the automaker a unique sports-luxury offering that would better tie in to its Formula One sponsorship.

The unanswered question, though is this: will the global economy remain healthy enough to support two flagship models from Infiniti?
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