Clever driving technology wrapped up in a beautiful automotive package makes the Infiniti Q50 a great all-rounder, says Tom Robertson
They say: ‘Expand your sense of total control behind the wheel’ We say: ‘Let the car work so you can relax’
Just as Toyota has Lexus to pander to high-end clients, Nissan also has their division for producing luxury vehicles – Infiniti.
By automotive standards, they’re a relatively new company, founded in 1989. But when you see their latest model available here in Oman, the new Infiniti Q50, it’s clear that the emphasis is very much on the future.
Catch sight of the Q50’s silhouette – and notice the aggressive edging that runs the length of the panels – and there’s something slightly reminiscent of the BMW 3 Series.
But the Infiniti also has more of a hint of tomorrow about it, as though the Japanese automakers are future-proofing the car as much as is possible. Whatever tomorrow brings, it’s an extremely attractive piece of motoring kit, right here, right now.
The car’s LED lights give the impression of focused eyes, with eyebrows furrowed as though Madame Infiniti knows she has a job to do – that of proving that the company is now a major player in the sports saloon market.
Packed with the latest technology, you could argue her grill has every right to denote a wry smile too.
First off, Infiniti has put huge effort into the aerodynamics and reducing drag to a minimum, claiming to have zero lift at the front and rear. Hurtling along the Muscat Expressway, there’s little chance of a strong gust pushing you sideways where other boxier cars might struggle.
But sit behind the steering wheel and the Q50 really starts to reveal her arsenal of little tricks.
First up is the optional Direct Adaptive Steering. It’s a mind-boggling concept to say the least. With the system active, there’s no physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels – it’s the Infiniti’s computer that’s actually responsible for making the wheels turn – not you.
Infiniti claims that this system actually results in a quicker response. How that’s possible I wasn’t able to fathom but feedback from drivers has so far been good.
And if that doesn’t start to make you feel redundant, there’s always the backup collision intervention that will apply the brakes if, as you’re reversing out of a space, the Q50 detects an oncoming car.
When you add that to the cruise control that automatically slows down in slow-moving traffic, and a camera-based active lane control system that keeps you heading on the right line, it’s obvious that Infiniti has focused on making the most of technology.
Take a look at the dashboard though, and you realise that that all those controls have to be put somewhere. The word simple doesn’t spring to mind but twin-touch screens keep the interface as straightforward as possible.
Thankfully you don’t need to spend hours fiddling every time you get in the car – the Infiniti inTuition system features a smart key that remembers all your settings exactly as you left them.
The design, quality and craftsmanship in the cabin all add to the purposeful feel of the car. She’s got the brains and the looks and only wants to please.
But whether Infiniti has done enough to compete with the likes of the Mercedes C Class and other rivals is, as yet, unclear. Perhaps the Q50’s sister, the Q50S Hybrid, will prove attractive for eco-conscious customers with its increased fuel efficiency.
What is clear is Infiniti’s intention: a desire to win over customers in the luxury sports saloon market by offering a host of cutting-edge technology embodied within an attractively styled motor. So, it’s a good start in a recently rebadged line. But, in the words of Buzz Lightyear, will it be “to Infiniti and beyond”? Time will tell.
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