As with the evolution of all things living and all things built, in today’s technology laden society the advancements in automotive engineering have heightened to levels beyond typical human expectations. Cars self-brake, have eyes looking forward and rearward, alert drivers when they doze off, call into home base after a crash and they take some of the responsibility of steering the vehicle into its intended direction. It’s an evolution of science that would leave a most gracious smile on the face of Thales aka the “father of science.” Quite naturally, Infiniti too has evolved and began spearheading a movement of progressive motor vehicle advancements and innovations in their all-new 2014 Q50 sports sedan. What can I say, they are inspired by performance!
The Q50, already on sale, offers a wide range of advanced technologies including Active Lane Control, Infiniti InTuition customizable digital environment and Infiniti InTouch next-gen smart connectivity featuring dual touch-screens and an array of advanced functions and features. The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is offered in two powertrains with a choice of rear-wheel drive or Intelligent all-wheel drive, and in a range of well-equipped models including versions with sport appearances and performance features. During the Q50 Dynamic Drive Day at Nashville Super Speedway I was able to correlate Infiniti’s luxury amenities with their updated performance enhancements in the sports sedan. I don’t know, maybe it’s the Japanese automaker’s newfound love of motorsports with Infiniti Red Bull Racing — guided by four time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel — that’s paving the way. But I do know this Q50 is far more track worthy than initially anticipated.
The vehicle sits low and wide and functions from a stiffer chassis. Under the hood is a 3.7-liter V6 with 328 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Or you can go green and opt for the hybrid which uses a 3.5-liter V6 with 302 horsepower and a 50 kW electric motor adding 67 horsepower between 1,650 and 2,000 rpm (0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds). I drove the gasoline engine on the speedway with Infiniti’s breakthrough Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) which has come to fruition after ten years of empirical data collection and research. As stated, the 3.5-liter felt like a 5.0-liter in terms of initial acceleration and high-speed torque. They are illusionists when it comes to masking V6’s as V8’s and I have always respected the brand for this capability.
Direct Adaptive Steering is an innovation all performance inspired drivers will respect and simultaneously enjoy. The steer-by-wire technology amplifies your experience behind the wheel without overtly overpowering the objective. Without DAS, cornering at speeds was a bit soft. With DAS the vehicle tensed up and steered more directly into the path of my desires – basically hard lefts and rights. So directional change and negotiating turns were quick, precise and balanced. This was demonstrated during a few laps around the track inclusive of a slalom. DAS is very impressive being that many auto brands highlight new technologies which simply go unnoticed behind the wheel. Not in this case! Direct Adaptive Steering has the ability to customize the electric steering feel in various combinations. Basically when you begin to steer computers speak to electric motors, calculate the required input and actuate the wheel far quicker than traditional, mechanical steering systems. Active Lane Control works in tandem with DAS and uses cameras to observe road patterns and direct the vehicle in its intended path. Keep in mind this system does not use braking as some of the German makers do. “Direct Adaptive Steering – and the Infiniti Q50 itself – are really representative of the future of driving,” said Michael Bartsch, vice-president, Infiniti Americas. “It is more precise, quicker, less tiring, and easier to keep the vehicle in the center of the lane and allows previously unattainable levels of driver personalization. Someday all vehicles will have steer-by-wire, today we are the only one.”
If that’s not enough Infiniti adds a bevy of driver safety and convenience technologies including Intelligent Cruise Control, Blind Spot Intervention, Backup Collision Intervention and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.
Aesthetically, the Q50 has been designed with a new grille, aggressive chin spoiler and LED headlamps. Either 17” or 19” stylish rims are available with run-flat tires. Its silhouette is complemented by chrome window trim and twin exhaust tips. The edgy interior conveys a new spectrum of Japanese luxury and refinement. For example, the Q50’s entire multi-media display has been replaced with the advanced Infiniti InTouch system with a twin-touch display, unrivaled personalization and configurable settings for up to four drivers. Driver profile settings can be programmed in the key. The 8” top screen is situated for navigation while the 7” lower screen handles the interface for Infiniti apps and third party apps such as Pandora, Facebook, Driver Performance, Calendar, E-mail and much more. It’s just as easy operating as an Apple iPad. The Nav, like always, is vivid and precise. Infiniti Connection, which works in sync with the company’s app, brings your personal and digital life to the spectrum. Also, we cannot forget about Bose’s new Studio on Wheels with 14 high-end speakers, and Bose Advanced Staging Technology which offers front row passengers a concert-like experience.
Delivered in five models — Q50 3.7, Q50 3.7 Premium, Q50 Hybrid Premium, Q50S 3.7 and Q50S Hybrid — Infiniti starts the bidding at $36,700 with each Q5 presenting the flexibility of either RWD or AWD. Stand-alone features such as the Navigation Package goes for $1,400, the Deluxe Touring Package is $3,100 and the Deluxe Technology Package runs $5,000. Welcome to the future!