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2014 Infiniti Q50 Overview
Infiniti debuts a new naming convention and a truly next-generation compact sedan in the 2014 Q50. Essentially a redesigned G37, the Q50 is slightly wider and indeterminately shorter than its predecessor, but massively updated on all fronts except for its 3.7-liter V6 and 7-speed automatic transmission. That powerplant carries over without the option of a manual transmission, but with a slight drop in its final power rating—now marked for a less-catchy 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque as opposed to the previously round 330 and 270 figures, respectively. Otherwise the Q50 changes everything about the G37—and probably everything about drivers' expectations of a sedan, too.
Take for instance the new drive-by-wire system—a first in any production-line car—tweaked toward perfection with the help of Infiniti's favorite Formula One champ, Sebastian Vettel. In addition to Snow, Eco, Standard and Sport modes, the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector now adds a Custom setting that acts on this drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering to shift wheel angle and steering feel according to the driver's enthusiasm, but nobody has their hands on one yet to say how it handles a driver at the helm. This system is also used in the Q50's debuting Active Lane Control assistance, which couples with the Lane Departure System to detect road conditions, crosswinds and lane markings in order to adjust the car's bearing on center accordingly.
Drive-by-wire differs from the normal hydraulic or electric steering systems in that it doesn't use mechanical aids to move mechanical drivetrain parts, instead allowing computer-controlled maneuvers with wholly adjustable responsiveness directly on moving parts. Such systems are optimal for advanced assistance like collision avoidance and other autonomous driving applications, something Infiniti has stated is a primary interest, so look forward to more of this in future models. To assuage any concerns, Infiniti's system is still rack-based with double fail-safe backup controllers and a mechanical clutch that gets the rack and steering wheel talking again should anything go wrong.
That may seem like a huge leap in automaking all on its own, but Infiniti didn't stop there. The Q50 also features a double stack of touchscreens that not only communicate among themselves to act like a split screen for things like navigation and car functions, but also remember everything from driving position, climate control settings, audio preferences and even navigational inputs for up to 4 drivers through its new i-Keys system. If remembering your every preference isn't quite far enough to say “Welcome” to you, the Q50 also features new contoured ergonomic seating and improved access to the rear 3-seat bench, alongside improved materials and a total style overhaul affording a whopping 18 cubic feet in the trunk before you fold down the seats.
Still offered with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive in the same Base, Premium and Sport trim levels, it's safe to expect slight improvements to the G37's 6-second trip to 60 mph and 19 mpg city/27 highway fuel-economy rating, given all of its newly aluminum components and new class-leading 0.26 drag coefficient. If that's not quite enough miles to the premium gallon for you, look to the Q50h hybrid, also debuting for 2014, for a little bit more power and equally improved economy. In all, the Q50 line stands to completely eradicate any concern of every driver in the G37's last 5 generations in one fell swoop of a debut, but since nobody has their hands on one as of this writing, you'll just have to see for yourself whether the rubber meets the road.
by Patricia Mayo
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