Infiniti Q50 replaces G37, becomes tech showcase
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DETROIT -- Infiniti is upping the ante on its biggest volume model with a redesign that makes it a showcase of new technologies.
Nissan Motor Co.'s luxury arm introduced the new 2014 Q50 -- the new name for the brand's bread-and-butter entry sports sedan, the G37 -- at the Detroit auto show today.
Among the technology advances: a steering system that gives drivers a spectrum of choices on how stiff the steering is, and an automated distance control feature that watches not merely the car in front of you, but the vehicle in front of that one.
The Q50 also will offer a rear-drive-based hybrid-electric drive system that Infiniti expects to market as a performance enhancer while improving fuel-economy.
Promising that the model will propel the brand "in a bold new direction," Infiniti's Hong Kong-based president, Johan de Nysschen, said in prepared remarks the car was designed to appeal to a new generation of luxury buyers.
The redesign is intended to help Infiniti toward its goal of challenging larger global luxury competitors, like BMW, and de Nysschen's former employer, Audi.
BMW recently redesigned its high-volume 3 series, and Lexus is unveiling a redesigned IS at this week's Detroit show.
The entry-level Infiniti model has not received a makeover since the 2007 model year.
In addition to the new styling, the Q50 has been packed with almost every new technology that Nissan has in its arsenal, says Nat Mason, marketing director for the car.
Infiniti believes the new features, enhancements to its ride comfort and the availability of a hybrid powertrain option will broaden the sports sedan's base of luxury shoppers when it goes on sale this summer.
Last year, G37 sales totaled 59,844, a 3 percent increase, despite its age. Infiniti's total sales rose 22 percent to 119,877, largely on the addition of the JX crossover last March.
Bert Brooks, senior product planning manager for the car, says the Q50's enhancements should attract shoppers at both end of the luxury sedan segment -- sports-performance drivers and non-sporty drivers.
The base Q50 model will retain its 328-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 with 7-speed automatic transmission. The Q50 Hybrid will use a 3.5-liter V-6 mated with a 50 kW electric motor that produces 360 hp.
"We discovered in the past few years of research that customers who were not really looking for a sports-oriented luxury sedan liked our car for other reasons," Brooks says. "We realized there's an aspect of our vehicle that we weren't doing enough with -- that some customers were not as focused on winding roads as we were."
The Q50 will carry the automaker's first application of "Direct Adaptive Steering," which lets a driver scroll through 96 different steering settings to pin the car's handling to specific road conditions. The selector changes the steering ratios to make the handling tight and firm for curving along a canyon road, or looser to accommodate a grocery store parking lot.
The new "Predictive Forward Collision Warning" safety feature monitors the vehicle beyond the car directly in front of the Q. If the car in the front brakes, but the vehicle immediately in front of the Q does not, the system will alert the driver, and then apply braking automatically if the Q driver doesn't respond.
"Active Lane Control" will also debut on the car. Unlike the current lane-departure intervention, which applies a slight braking when a car drifts out of its lane, the new feature will interact with the car's steering to correct the drift.
The Q also will have "back-up collision intervention, which automatically stops the car rather than let it back into an object or person, and also "moving object detection," which detects other vehicles that may enter the car's path as it backs up.
Both of those features first appeared last March on the JX.
The Q also will launch the creation of an Infiniti apps store. Infiniti will begin allowing owners to download and sync personal apps for the car through their cell phones and USB drives, Brooks says.
"This car is critical to our company," he says. "This size and this segment of near luxury are critical to all luxury carmakers. Our goal was to make it even more refined and successful than the car we already had out there.
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