Vettel signed off the chassis but it's a hybrid: the highs and lows of the new Infiniti Q50
There's little doubt that Red Bull and co-sponsor Infiniti have given Sebastian Vettel the vehicle for F1 dominance. It's just a shame for Seb about the product endorsements that follow. Oh sure, Alonso and Massa have to endure the odd awkward 'thumbs up beside a Fiat 500 limited edition' photocall from time to time. But, ultimately, endorsing Ferrari road cars and doing the odd junket around Fiorano with an F12 isn't the most tiresome chore in the world. Likewise Button and - as was - Hamilton getting to shake down 12C prototypes for the cameras. How's that new A-Class looking by the way Lewis? Configured those side sweeps with thin strips of fur to mimic your facial fuzz?
'Slightly mysterious' - and that's Infiniti talking
Meanwhile what does Vettel get for his towering performances on the track? A re-wheeled 'signature' edition of an ageing SUV. Awkward cameos in pop videos. And now the proud boast that he helped sign off the chassis for the new Infiniti Q50.
Q-what? Q-3 Series, Q-C-Class, Q-A4, etc... this is the first all-new fruit of Infiniti's bravely new prefixed future and a replacement for the outgoing G37. In simple terms it's a mid-sized exec saloon with a mildly spicy engine line up comprising a regular 3.7-litre V6 with 328hp or a 3.5-litre version with a bit of hybrid assistance and total of 360hp, both driving the rear wheels via a seven-speed auto with paddleshift override. 'Intelligent All-Wheel Drive' is an option. The 3.7's 269lb ft of torque won't see which way a diesel-powered German rival went, the hybrid's combined 456lb ft offering a fighting chance at least. The Detroit debut is the clue here though - the powertrain options are very States-friendly and Infiniti is promising further engines for other markets. So you can safely assume that means at least one diesel version for Europe.
Token chassis input from Vettel and Buemi
For a brand starting - on these shores at least - effectively from scratch, Infiniti has had to work hard to establish a visual signature of its own and the Q50 successfully continues the swoopy work of the distinctive FX and EX crossovers, translated into saloon form. "The Q50's enhanced sense of three-dimensionality gives it a look of strength and agility," says Infiniti's 'chief creative officer' Shiro Nakamura, "a look that is highly personal, seductive and slightly mysterious." Is 'slightly mysterious' a desirable quality when you're up against the branding might of BMW, Audi and Mercedes? We shall see, but it's certainly trying hard to stand out.
With the Germans going all-out on tech, Infiniti has had to keep pace, so the Q50 is packed with all the gizmos you'd expect, including two touchscreens and 96-way personalised settings via your own key fob for seat position, climate control, infotainment preferences. There are another 93 options we won't bother listing right now. The electronic safety nets are vast and complex too; perhaps necessary if you're going to get carried away with all that dual-screening configuration for your 96 personalisation options.
Touchscreens and gizmos galore
The European spec Q50, with that promised expanded engine range, will debut at Geneva in March. Expect further pricing information and the rest then.
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In a recent interview, Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer revealed that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn considered killing off Infiniti. Speaking to Wards Auto, Palmer said that Ghosn told him "We don’t need Infiniti, we just don’t need that brand." Ghosn added, "We don’t have to do Infiniti, you can cancel it if you want."
Instead of killing the brand, Palmer decided to keep it and push for more autonomy from Nissan. In his view, Audi is only premium brand that isn't plagued by being owned by a mainstream manufacture. As he explained, the distance between Audi and Volkswagen has allowed them “to create a series of professionals that understand the premium market in a very premium way.”
This eventually led Nissan to appoint former Audi USA chief Johan de Nysschen as Infiniti's president. In order to lure the executive, Infiniti had to partner with Daimler, relocate their offices to Hong Kong and green-light the Q50 and JX crossover. Since de Nysschen's arrival, he has encouraged Infiniti to become less about volume and more about becoming a 'proper' luxury brand.
jimmyjimjim19 Jan 2013
Oddly enough, that's something else that's at the back of my mind.
Again, you start speccing it out and it becomes expensive.
Not convinved of its looks, either.
Captain Cadillac19 Jan 2013
Drive a Caddy ATS before you buy anything. It's like a 3 series, only better in every way.
22rgt B Squadron19 Jan 2013
Looks cheap and tacky and as for competing with the Germans, not a chance. German badge kudos immense, Jap badge kudps equals fail..
jimmyjimjim19 Jan 2013
I'll get slated for this, but what the hell.
I'm seriously considering a Q50, with the 3.7 V6 as my next car in a few months.
Why? Well, I'm in the US, and while the evo is fun, I'd like some more refinement and comfort. Like The Heretic, I like the G35 and G37 (though I preferred the look of the G35 to the G37).
So, broadly similar performance to the evo, more refinement, more comfort. AWD very desireable for the weather.
You're looking at entry level 'compact executive' cars.
What are the options? For similar performance/power, BMW 335i, obviously. Infiniti Q50/G37. Audi A4/S4. Mercedes C350. Volvo S60. Some detroit pig iron.
Judging from the G37, a fully loaded Q50 3.7L AWD will be about $48k. BMW 335iX, similar spec - about $62k. Audi S4, similar spec - about $64k. Merceds C350, similar spec -about $53k. Volvo S60, similar spec, about $53k.
For the price and spec, you can't fault it.
As an aside, the prices about are only very rough approximations; judging from some of the features listed on the Q50, I'd say that, if they were available on the other choices, then they'd be 3K or so higher.
The Infiniti starts looking more interesting now, doesn't it?
Servicing costs? Probably cheaper, too.
Looks? Purely subjective. I personally like them. Certainly looks more interesting than the BMW or the Audi. Nicer than the G37 in my opinion, that I've also been tempted by, so a plus there.