Just two months after its world premiere at the NAIAS in Detroit, Infiniti has unveiled the Q50 saloon here in Europe. Powered by either a 168bhp 2.2-litre diesel engine or 359bhp 3.5-litre Hybrid, the new Q50 will go head-to-head with the new Lexus IS in a class dominated by the big German car makers.
The launch of the Q50 also marks the introduction of Infiniti’s new ‘Q’ nomenclature, which harks back to the original Q45 of 24 years ago. In the next few days, the FX will be renamed as the as the QX70, and eventually all models will be badged either ‘Q’ (for saloons, coupes and convertibles) or QX (for crossovers).
The major news with regards to Infiniti’s Q50 has nothing to do with its name. Direct Adaptive Steering, is the controversial new tech which Nissan has chosen to debut in its premium D-segment model – the Q50 is the first production car in the world with such a steer-by-wire system which works by taking signals from a potentiometer mounted to the steering column, sending these to electric motors, which then actuate the steering rack and turn the wheels.
There’s a redundant fall-back, just in case the electronics fail, which in a fraction of a second releases a clutch to re-unite the physical connection between driver and the steered wheels.
Read ‘Key Features: Steer-by-wire’ for further details.
The other distinctive technology innovation in the Q50 is its InTouch Telematics System (along similar lines to BMW’s Connected Drive). This is designed to be future-proofed, and will offer Infiniti’s 24-hour Personal Assistant program and two touch screens, the first showing the most frequently used applications, such as navigation map, while information such as points-of-interest can be handed off to the second screen for more detailed exploration. Customers will be able to download, update and synch personal apps through their smart phones, USB drives or the system’s telematics control unit.
Both engines in the Q50 are class leaders; the Q50 2.2d powered by Infiniti’s first four-cylinder diesel engine delivers 168bhp and 199 lb-ft of torque, with CO2 emissions of 115g/km on the combined cycle. The 3.5 Hybrid’s performance trounces the 220bhp Lexus IS 300h with a stout 359bhp, making it one of the quickest hybrid saloons in the market.
We’ll have details of the new Q50′s pricing and availability when they are confirmed.