Getting technical with the Infiniti Q50

By JAY WONG | 9 May 2016

With shapely contours and crisp lines, its sheet metal coloured in Venetian Ruby, the Infiniti Q50S Hybrid disrupted the calm one bright cloudless morning as the rear tyres struggles to keep traction letting loose a few yelps as the electric motor catapults it forward before its V6 engine rumbled to life.

At the Infniti Drive Malaysia event held a few moons ago at Desa Park City, Kuala Lumpur, motoring journalists got to experience the unique selling points about the Q50 luxury sports sedan.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 05 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid
Speak hybrid and anything but “performance” comes to mind, but in the case of the Q50S Hybrid, we beg to differ, because it’s gone the way of the Porsche 911 GT3 Hybrid in having a very capable engine that’s supplemented by an electric motor to enhance performance.

During an acceleration and brake test, the Q50S simply sinks the senses into the seat’s backrest – it’s not as visceral as a Nissan GT-R, but the initial pull off the line makes the body think that Earth’s gravitational pull seems to have gone horizontal for a split-second.

Costing RM398,800 (OTR without insurance), the Q50S Hybrid under full throttle uses a 62hp/270Nm electric motor as a “prime mover” to get the car rolling from standstill.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 28 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid
Once sufficient momentum has been reached, the Japanese luxury sedan’s 298hp/338Nm 3.5-litre Atkinson-cycle V6 engine jumps to life to deliver a petrol/electric combined performance of 364hp and 546Nm of torque for a exhilarating drive.

Power transfer via a seven-speed automatic gearbox to the rear wheels are silky smooth and jerk-free.

With such performance figures, passenger window visibility goes from clear to blur in 5.1 seconds when accelerating from 0 to 100kph, before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 250kph.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 21 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid
The car rolls on 19-inch wheels with 245/40 series tyres that partially obscure the four-piston front and two-piston rear callipers that bite down on 320mm front and 308mm rear discs when hurtling down the few hundred metres that were provided.

Following the hard acceleration, we had to “stand” on the brake pedal to try and bring the sedan to a complete halt within an allotted area and that meant we didn’t have the opportunity to experience its braking performance in real-world conditions.

However, we can say that the brakes (in dry conditions), feel very capable in bleeding the speed of this hefty 1,788kg (kerb) hybrid, down to a complete standstill plenty of reassuring confidfence.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 20 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid
With a flick of the wrist to the right and the foot off the brake, the hybrid rolled around the corner and was suddenly faced with an attractive-looking wall of boxes, to which we found ourselves steadily gravitating towards at a not-so-perilous speed of roughly 25kph.

But just as we were about to “kiss” the wall, the radar – after detecting a proximity alert, activates the Forward Emergency Braking (FEB) system, which tightens down the seat-belts and makes the brake callipers bite down hard.

Depending on speed, the FEB system will try to slow the vehicle down or make it come to a complete stop to try and help minimise injuries or damages or simply to help prevent a collision.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 41 Infiniti Q50
Infiniti Q50 without DAS

To end the day, we concluded with a Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) test – a world’s first technology that took Infiniti more than 10 years to research and develop before releasing it into their production vehicles.

What it “DAS” is maintain the front tyre’s steering angle based on the driver’s steering inputs and removes any undesired road vibration and feedback from the tyres to the steering wheel when going over uneven road surfaces.

Using a Q50 priced from RM239,800 OTR with GST without insurance (available in three variants of 2.0t GT, 2.0t GT Premium and the range-topping 2.0t GT Premium Sport), it has three steering modes of Light, Standard and Heavy that pretty much describes the level of energy required from the driver.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 32 Infiniti Q50
This particular Q50 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine sending 211hp at 5,500rpm and 350Nm from 1,250 to 3,500rpm to the rear wheels via an electronically controlled seven-speed adaptive shift automatic transmission with manual mode.

Before testing it out, we first had to navigate through a short two-part course in a non-DAS equipped Q50 2.0t GT, which consisted of a short winding section and a straight lane with plastic speed bumps that covered half of it in alternating successions – so that the left wheel would go over a bump first and then followed by the right wheel.

Without DAS in Heavy mode, the forearms did feel a little burn from the short winding track and switching it to Light mode did require less effort to turn, but there was still some heft to the steering feel.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 33 Infiniti Q50
Infiniti Q50 with DAS

As for the alternating speed bump test, we took our hands off the wheel and allowed the car to roll though them.

Regardless of which steering mode the Q50 was in, the steering wheel was well affected by the bumps causing it to deviate off its intended course and requiring intervention before any cones were turned into triangles.

With a DAS-equipped Q50, the weight of the different steering modes took a different turn – excuse the pun, with Heavy mode feeling similar to Light mode in the non-DAS equipped Q50.

Infiniti Drive Experience - 37 Infiniti Q50
Not to mention, going through the alternating speed bump test allowed us to keep our hands to ourselves all the way through and there was absolutely no fuss from the steering wheel, even though the car rocked from side to side when going over the bumps.

Although Infiniti demonstrated a few specific technologies found in their cars, there are other technologies that are also available (depending on variant).

Such technologies include Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Active Lane Control, Intelligent Cruise Control and Back-up Collision Intervention to name a few, and all of them help make this Japanese luxury brand a more pleasurable and ultimately safer one to drive.