LEAF based, but totally different
Today Infiniti unveiled the new LE Concept. While dubbed a concept, it is very nearly a production vehicle. So the question is, how different is it from the LEAF? Quite a bit in some ways, in others… not so much.
First – obviously, it is a sedan rather than a hatchback.
While we have already seen comments to the effect that it looks like a Hyundai Sonata, we can’t say that we agree. There are some similarities in concept (sharp, swoopy character lines), but the Infiniti is more aggressive with that design (for better or worse is up to you), and there are Infiniti brand cues (the rear quarter window design and the faux grille). The side profile of the rear is pretty busy with lines going in pretty much every direction. The rear three quarter view looks pretty busy as well, especially with that fascia under the rear bumper. The coupe-style roof-line makes for an attractive profile. Perhaps overall it’s one of those designs that looks better in person. Likely there is some aerodynamic benefit to all of those lines, as Infiniti claims a low .25 coefficient of drag (.04 lower than LEAF).
A combination of suede and mesh cloth provide an inviting design, with a nice, long center armrest which the LEAF could take a lesson from. As Nissan has learned – a dark interior was demanded by their customers. We will likely see darker interior color options offered for the LE at production.
Before we take a look at the drivetrain, we do have one more comment to make about the design.
Riding on exactly the same 106.3 inch wheelbase of the LEAF, the LE is lower, wider and longer than its sibling, as might be expected by a luxury sedan versus a mass market hatch. The LE offers seating for five, though probably four adults would be comfortable.
As far as the drivetrain goes, it is LEAF inspired, though more powerful, in keeping with Infiniti being the performance brand in the Nissan hierarchy. 25 percent more horsepower – 134 (100 kilowatts) in the LE as compared to 107 (80 kilowatts) in the LEAF – and 240 lb-ft of torque while the LEAF makes do with 207. For the uninitiated – torque provides acceleration while horsepower provides speed. This means that the LE should accelerate more briskly than the LEAF. Top speed, however, will be limited by tire size, as it currently is in the LEAF. The concept rides on 19 inch wheels with a tire that is over an inch taller than the 16 inch tires on the LEAF. Why not three inches? Lower profile tires. We’ll see if those make it into production. If they do, look for a somewhat higher top speed – roughly 97 or 98 miles per hour. This all assumes the same ratio for the one-speed transmission. With a battery capacity the same as the LEAF, look for real world range to be less than the LEAF as drivers use that extra torque to have fun from stop light to stop light.
The on-board charger is still rated at 3.3 kilowatts rather than the expected upgrade to 6.6 kilowatts for the 2013 LEAF. We are somewhat surprised at that. Likely that will be upgraded prior to production. The concept touts wireless charging though we’ll have to wait and see if that makes it to the production model. The battery capacity remains unchanged from the LEAF, though that could change as well. Quick charging still uses the ChaDeMo connector for a 30 minute charge time.
No hint on pricing, but look for it to be several thousand dollars more than LEAF. Infiniti says to look for this in an Infiniti showroom with the next two years.