2014 Infiniti Q50
By Gary Witzenburg
On Sale: Summer 2013
Expected Pricing: $39,000 to $45,000
Infiniti, Nissan's luxury brand, got off to a slow start following its 1989 U.S. launch and, despite a variety of generally handsome, fine-performing and well-reviewed luxury/sport products, still trailed rival Toyota's Lexus sales by nearly 100,000 units as of 2012. So the primary mission of new Infiniti Motor Co. President Johan de Nysschen whose previous job was leading Audi in North America is to improve on that performance, as he did Audi's. And one of the first thing he is doing is changing Infiniti's model names.
By 2014, all Infiniti car names will start with the letter Q, harking back to the marque's first luxury sedan, the Q45. Infiniti trucks and car-based crossovers will be QXs.
Instead of engine size, the numbers following those letters will indicate relative size, price and/or hierarchy in the line.
Thus this all-new 2014 Q50 replaces the former G sedan, the G coupe and convertible be replaced by new Q60s, and the larger M luxury sedan will be renamed Q70. On the truck side, the Infiniti EX, 7-passenger JX and performance-oriented FX crossovers will become QX50, QX60 and QX70, while the full-size QX SUV will be QX80.
Infiniti's G sedans have always looked fine to our eyes, but this new Q50 carries the brand's design language to higher levels. Its flowing, sculpted lines look good from every angle, beginning with the raised hood over its signature double-arch grille and the sharp character line trailing rearward from its headlamps. Another line curves over its rear haunch into the rear deck, while aggressive creases in the lower doors are echoed in the rear quarters.
Two propulsion systems will be available in North America for 2014: a 328-hp 3.7-liter DOHC 24-valve aluminum V6 with Infiniti's Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS) and Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL), and a Direct Response Hybrid system with Intelligent Dual Clutch Control. The latter marries a 3.5-liter version of the V6 to a 50-kW electric motor through a single-motor/dual-clutch system to deliver 354 combined horsepower for unhybrid-like strong acceleration and good fuel economy.
Both will drive the rear (or all four) wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission with available magnesium steering column paddle shifters.
Intelligent All-Wheel Drive will be available with either.
Infiniti sports sedans are known for crisp, precise handling, and this new 2014 Q50 lightweight front suspension is a single pivot double-wishbone design, while the revised rear set-up uses multi-links with coil springs and Dual Flow Path shock absorbers. A stiffer sport suspension is available on Sport models.
Four-wheel power vented disc brakes with ABS, Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist will be standard, sport brakes with upgraded rotors, four-piston front calipers and two-piston rears optional. Steering is speed-sensitive power rack-and-pinion. Standard tires will be 225/55R17 all-season run-flats on machine-finished 17-inch alloy wheels, while 245/40R19 run-flat summer or all-season tires on 19-inch alloy wheels will be optional.
The 2014 Q50 also will boast a couple of industry-first features. The first is Direct Adaptive Steering, which enables independent control of steering inputs and tire angle to transmit the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system while quickly communicating road feedback to the driver. Four different settings will adjust both steering effort and steering ratio to the driver's preference and road conditions.
The second is Active Lane Control, part of the available Lane Departure Prevention system, which uses camera-based lane-marker detection to not only correct unintended lane drift with small steering adjustments but also make finer adjustments for minor road surface changes or crosswinds.