Infiniti's Mercedes-based hatchback is due in 2014 and will help the brand grow in Europe.

The Etherea concept that Infiniti revealed at last March's Geneva Motor Show prefigured a production model that will use the same platform as the next-generation Mercedes A-Class. It is slated to make its debut in 2014 and will go head to head against the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series.

While the Etherea concept received a relatively warm welcome in Geneva, Infiniti is not sure how much of it (if any) will make it to production.

The brand's spokesman for the Netherlands told Dutch magazine Auto Week that "at the moment, there are three designs on the table. We will pick one of them next month." The design picked might be on display in concept form at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.

It is too early for Infiniti to confirm what engines the hatchback will be powered by, but a lot of the next generation A-Class' engines are expected to be part of the lineup.

The Japanese automaker also has plans for a hybrid version which will likely use an-in house engine. According to the brand's spokesman, "the hybrid will be a competitor to the Audi S3".

The unnamed source added that Infiniti is trying to gain a "more permanent foothold in Europe, without seeking the sales numbers of Audi or BMW." It wants to "remain a niche player and find an audience that is mostly interested in driving dynamics."

These words sound familiar: Cadillac's Don Butler stated last week that he is "not delusional enough to think that [Cadillac] will compete head-to-head volumewise with BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz in their home market."


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