Does the world need another Porsche Panamera? Infiniti sure seems to think so

Infiniti Essence concept rear three quarter overhead

Unlike Porsche, perhaps an Infiniti Panamera rival could get updated designs more often than once every four decades?

It’s always good to aim high.

The Porsche Panamera offers a combination of performance, luxury, and utility that few cars can match – even if it looks like a science experiment gone wrong. Now, Infiniti is thinking about making one of its own.

Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer told Automotive News that Infiniti wants a Panamera-like four-door to be its future flagship.

While other luxury brands have more traditional full-size sedans at the tops of their lineups, Palmer believes a sporty, coupe-like car would give Infiniti an alternative that is “appealing and different.”

Building a different kind of flagship would also allow Infiniti to avoid competing against Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz on their home turf. From the A8 to the S-Class, no one does a big sedan quite like the Germans. That’s why Acura and Cadillac don’t even bother with flagship sedans.

Infiniti has already laid the groundwork for a Panamera rival.

The Essence concept (pictured above), unveiled at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show, features a slick fastback shape that could potentially be adapted for a four-door model. Unlike the Panamera, a production Essence would be a car people would actually want to look at.

 That may be the only area where the Infiniti bests the Porsche, though. Infiniti has always fancied itself the sportiest of the Japanese luxury brands, and it has the engineering of resources of Nissan at its disposal, but can it really compete with Porsche when it comes to performance?

The Essence concept may have been penned by Nissan GT-R designer Shiro Nakamura, but since its debut Infiniti’s greatest technical advancement has been the Q50’s robotic steer-by-wire system. That’s the kind of thing that gives car enthusiasts dystopian nightmares, not joy.

Whether Infiniti is capable of building a viable Porsche rival or not, some kind of flagship is definitely in the cards.

Last month, Palmer said Infiniti needed bigger models in its lineup to create prestige. He mentioned a four-door coupe as a possibility, although didn’t specifically proclaim it a Panamera rival.

An expensive model casting a halo effect over the rest of the lineup couldn’t hurt, but it will have to be more than a pretty face to accomplish Palmer’s goal.

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