Infiniti is considering a sporty four-door coupe flagship in the mold of the Porsche Panamera, says Andy Palmer, Nissan's executive vice president responsible for global future products.

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The car's sweeping fastback roofline could take its styling inspiration from the Infiniti Essence concept penned by Nissan design chief Shiro Nakamura and first shown at the 2009 Geneva auto show.

The car, which is not expected before 2017, is part of Infiniti's ambitious plan to become a major global luxury brand by 2020.

Avoiding head-on conflict with the established European players in the luxury market, Infiniti's plan is built around a mix of sporty-focused sedan, coupe and crossover models, each powered by hybrid powertrains.

"We won't do a Merc S class or that type of car," said Palmer. "We have had that before. We want a flagship car that's appealing and different."

Sources say Nakamura's team is working on the dimensions and details of the Essence concept, stretching its proportions and roofline to accommodate a roomier rear cabin and an extra pair of doors.

The car could be based on the latest Mercedes-Benz modular rear-wheel-drive architecture.

Later, Infiniti may offer a mid-engine, hybrid-powered two-seater inspired by the Emerg-E concept shown at the Goodwood Festival in 2011.

The production Emerg-E is conceived as a supercar, but with a luxury cabin, more in the mold of a Jaguar or Aston Martin than a Ferrari.

"We have the halo car in the plan, but it is not signed off yet," said Palmer. "The sales of [sedans] like the Q50 and SUVs like the QX60 will have to be going well and then I can go to our approval committee."

 

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