YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan is giving the sporty Skyline sedan a high-tech, midcycle update with a new semi-autonomous system that allows for truly hands-free, auto-navigating highway driving.
The refreshed sedan goes on sale this fall in Japan and signals what might be in store for the upcoming Infiniti Q50, the name the vehicle is sold under in the U.S. and Europe.
The minor model change, unveiled on Tuesday at Nissan Motor Corp.'s headquarters here south of Tokyo, also gets a top-tier 400R grade in Japan that is the most powerful factory-built Skyline ever. Its 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbo engine generates 400hp, over the base model's 300 hp.
The engine was already deployed in the U.S.-market Infiniti Q50 but now makes its way to Japan, replacing a Daimler-supplied 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine.
A new Intelligent Dynamic Suspension feature also offers more precise control of suspension damping that correspondents to the driving situation to reduce vibration and improve comfort.
Styling tweaks, for the Japan version at least, include the return of the Skyline's traditional four-circle rear combination lamps with full LED illumination. And for the domestic market, where the automaker does not market the Infiniti premium brand, the Skyline gets Nissan's V-Motion grille.
The prominent Nissan branding -- with the return of Nissan logos -- reverses an earlier attempt to position the current model simply as "Skyline," stripped of any corporate badging. That move was seen by some as testing the waters for a possible introduction of the Infiniti brand to Japan.
Hybrid versions of the Skyline, in both two-wheel and four-wheel drive, come with ProPilot 2.0, the next-generation Nissan's semi-autonomous driving technology, as standard equipment.
"By delivering these new products before anyone else, we have been unlocking the future of mobility," Executive Vice President Asako Hoshino said at the launch.
"This is the first product that enables hands-off driving in certain circumstances in assisting the driver on multilane highways. This is a technology only Nissan can develop," she said.
The new ProPilot 2.0 system makes several advances over the first generation ProPilot technology, which has been sold in 350,000 vehicles worldwide since hitting the market in 2016.
Chief among the improvements is delivering pure hands-off highway driving from on-ramp to off-ramp. The system will switch lanes, pass other cars and help with lane exiting.
The current system does not allow lane changing or take orders from the navigation system to drive itself to a chosen destination. Indeed, in the U.S., a circumspect Nissan tacks on the word "Assist" to ProPilot so as not to engender a false sense of security in its limited abilities.
Nissan said in a statement that ProPilot 2.0 delivers "the world's first driver assistance system to combine navigated highway driving with hands-off single-lane driving capabilities."
The new system fulfills Nissan's promise to launch an auto-navigating, self-driving system for highways by the end of the decade. ProPilot 2.0 cobbles together seven cameras, five radar sensors and 12 sonar sensors, combined with a 3D high-definition mapping navigation system.
The technology can pinpoint the car's location to within 5 centimeters, said Kunio Nakaguro, executive vice president for r&d and product development.
The system allows hands-off driving only when the car is traveling in the same lane. When the car switches lanes, Japanese regulations require drivers to have their hands on the wheel. ProPilot 2.0 still changes the lanes by itself, but the law requires human hand-holding, just in case.