Posted Feb 14th 2013 12:31PM
The hotly contested sport-luxury sedan market has many players from around the world. Japan has long fought BMW's 3 series benchmark with the likes of their Infiniti G37, but for 2013 the marque has renamed their sedan and lathered on new tech. It isn't all marketing jargon either because the performance of the car was in fact, developed at the hands of Infiniti partner and Red Bull F1 champ Sebastian Vettel.
Infiniti has moved to adopt a new naming convention for all of their cars: apparently automakers are running thin on names that are free of copyright claims, awkward connotation, vulgar meaning in different languages or too many letters. The answer, is to stick with an alpha-numeric naming convention and for Infiniti, that means all cars and SUVs will have a badge starting with the letter, "Q."
The new Q50 sports all-new swoopy sheet metal, a cleanly styled interior, and lots of new technology including a very promising adaptive steering technology which Infiniti claims will be "found on many cars in the future." Click past the jump to read more details and check out our photo gallery from the Toronto auto show floor.
Related Gallery2014 Infiniti Q50
The well known and much loved 3.7-litre V-6 engine receives a few tweaks but the big news is the addition of hybrid power in the Q50 lineup thanks to a 50 kWh electric motor and compact Lithium-ion battery.
The 3.7 litre V6 mill produces 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, channeled to the rear wheels (or all four wheels on the all-wheel drive model) through a 7 speed dual-clutch automated transmission. The hybrid Q50 combines Infiniti's 3.5-litre V-6 engine with a 50 kWh electric motor and a compact Lithium battery. In total the hybrid powertrain generates 354 horsepower.
New technology includes the addition of active lane control, moving object detection, a new infotainment system coined "InTough" and an optional steer-by-wire system.
Infiniti has coined their new steer-by-wire system, "Direct Adaptive Steering," and it is essentially a video game style setup. This steering system is a world-first technology on any production car, and Infiniti stated during their media launch at the Toronto auto show that they believe every car in the world will eventually use a similar system.
Because the steering wheel transmits data (read: steering angle) to the front wheels electronically, the electric motor used to move the rack and pivot the wheels can respond within milliseconds. Feed back is sent by wire back up to the steering wheel where the driver can sense traction and bumps in the road through the wheel (so we've been told - the jury is out until we test it ourselves on Canadian roads and racetracks).
The main advantage of this system is the way in which it can change the steering ratio and steering effort depending on the driving situation, as well as the fact that there is no parasitic power loss as found in a hydraulic power steering system. Unlike electric power steering assist which is now common on many cars (including the iconic Porsche 911), Infiniti's new system does not make use of direct mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels - though there is a mechanical fail-safe should the electronics ever have any issues.
As far as handling characteristics - the bar is continually being raised by BMW's 3 series, and more recently by Cadillac's ATS sedan; Infiniti has brought out the big guns and have had their Formula 1 drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sébastien Buemi auspiciously tune the new Q50s suspension and handling. Yes, tuning was done on the Nurburgring to offer thorough testing and bragging rights. We eagerly await our first drive on Canadian roads to determine just how sport-focused the latest Infiniti sport sedan really is in comparison to its German and American competition.
The Q50's interior is slightly more spacious than the G37's it replaces, and it's amply more posh. It represents a big departure from the previous model and feels very high rate when you're seated inside. Rear passenger head and knee room is adequate and competitive in the segment.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 will go on sale in the Canadian market late this Spring, 2013. Pricing is yet to be announced: expect the new Q50 to start with a base price around the $44,000 mark.