Stepping into the new luxury 3.5-litre V6 hybrid sports sedan, the Infiniti Q50S, and driving it out of the Infiniti showroom made me feel like I was in the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
No, the Q50S does not have a flux capacitor or time travelling capabilities (it’s a bummer, I know) but it does give you a good indication of what the future holds for cars and their drivers.
The Q50S unit came equipped with Safety Shield technologies, which is an option so you do not have to get it if you don’t want to but I strongly recommend it.
And here is why.
The bells and whistles for safety in this car runs as long as my arm (I’ll get to the cool bits soon, I promise) and these include Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Distance Control Assist, Lane Departure Prevention and Blind Spot Intervention.
Got it? Good.
Now here’s the cool bit.
I was driving on Jalan Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur and any city dweller can tell you how traffic simply comes to a crawl on that road and sure enough, I was inching my way through it.
And then the Q50S did something which put a broad smile on my face.
With the Safety Shield on, the car started braking by itself when it detected another object in front of it (my foot was off the accelerator and brakes at this point) and the first part of braking was to slow the car down and if you do not do anything as it slowly rolls closer to the car in front of you, the car brakes harder and comes to a full stop ... autonomously!
At this point, you put your foot on the brakes and release it when traffic starts rolling again.
I never enjoyed myself so much in a traffic jam.
Even when you are up to speed, all the safety features are working for you as the car will automatically start braking and even disengage the accelerator (you can actually feel the accelerator pedal kick back) once it determines the speed you’re driving and the object in front of you.
All these advanced safety features are but a taste of the future and how the different processes in autonomous cars are already evident here and in other car manufacturers too (Lane Departure technology for example, is all the rage right now).
But I digress...
Infiniti is the world’s first automaker to introduce the Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) in a vehicle which is a steer-by-wire system that controls the front-tyre steering angle and inputs electronically.
This makes steering rather effortless.
It was more precise and light, so minimal hand movement was involved.
With its Lane Detection Camera to monitor lane markers, the Q50S is often dead centre in the lane and with the Lane Depature Warning and Prevention system, the car steers itself back if you are off your trajectory.
The downside to this steering system is the lack of feedback and I could not tell whether I turned the wheel enough sometimes and where the tyres were pointing.
But it was a minor niggle.
The system has a lot of benefits and you can customise it according to effort (standard, heavy or light) and how fast or slow you want the turning response to be.
Plus for a car this long, with an overall length of 4,800mm, you would be surprised at how easy it is to steer it even in narrow parking lots and tight corners.
This car is also incredibly sexy, what with all its curves and creases.
It sits really low in the front and high in the rear and that gives it a really sporty stance.
Overall, it is quite refined whether you are looking at it from the outside or inside its well-crafted cabin.
And it is all about comfort and elegance when you’re in the car.
The centre dash is designed with the driver in mind with not one but two display system screens.
The leather seats are cosy and inviting and it’s really quiet and spacious too for rear passengers with a wheelbase of 2,850mm.
I enjoyed listening to the Bose 14-speaker Premium Audio System (which is optional) which had a crisp quality to it whether playing CDs or the radio.
And it’s so insulated, that you only hear and feel a slight rumble of the V6 engine once you open up the throttle.But it is still a good sound to hear.
And the power delivery is simply silky smooth; it is like a gush of wind and you are off.
The electronically-controlled 7-speed transmission works effortlessly and mind you, this car has got 364hp combined and 338Nm of torque, so it’s fast.
How fast? The Q50S does the century sprint in just 5.1 seconds.
The suspension is catered more towards comfort while still being firm enough for spirited driving.
And to top it off, it is frugal with a combined fuel economy of 6.2L per 100km.
There is no doubt that Infiniti has produced a car that stands on its own in the luxury class.
There is a learning curve with all the technology involved but it is a pleasure more than an impediment.
The Q50S will be launched in Malaysia late next month together with another variant - the 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
The rear-wheel driven Q50S Hybrid is expected to cost around RM400,000 and the turbo version at RM250,000.