For Sale By:Dealer
Warranty: Vehicle has an existing warranty
Options: Leather, Compact Disc
Safety Features: Anti-Lock Brakes, Driver Side Airbag
Sub Model: 2dr Sport
Power Options: Air Conditioning, Cruise Control, Power Windows
Exterior Color: Amethyst Graphite
Interior Color: Gray
Number of Cylinders: 6
Engine Description: 3.7L V6 CYLINDER
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Auto blogMon, 03 Feb 2014 11:57:00 EST
Ten years ago, nearly to the day, I took delivery of a brand-new 2004 Infiniti G35 6MT. The sporty rear-wheel drive sedan, equipped with its throaty 260-horsepower V6, slick manual gearbox and limited-slip differential replaced my 2001 BMW 330i because the Japanese competitor touted a product that was roomier, better equipped, quicker and lower priced. The G35 trumped the German in nearly every measurable category - at least on paper.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is the direct descendant, albeit two generations later, of the car I owned a decade ago. It is dimensionally about the same size, but it has gained more than 300 pounds of mass thanks to numerous safety upgrades and technical innovations. The additional weight is largely dismissed by a larger and more efficient powerplant that delivers an additional 68 horsepower, a welcome arrival, but the manual gearbox that charmed enthusiasts has been pushed out of the picture by a mandatory seven-speed automatic transmission.
As it has in the past, Infiniti touts its all-new Q50 as a luxury sport sedan worthy of the title. Decades ago, impressive performance statistics may have sealed the deal. Yet there is much more to the assignment today, as the model must offer premium appointments, sophistication and engaging driving dynamics if it's going to entice and capture the next-generation of young, premium buyers - much like the G35 did for me ten years ago.
It only takes about half a lap of the Millbrook Proving Grounds for me to become convinced that Infiniti must build this car.
The sedan I am piloting around the English circuit is a working prototype of the Q50 Eau Rouge Concept that made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year. As a refresher, the exquisitely painted, burgundy metallic, four-door show car is based on the production Q50, enhanced with Infiniti Red Bull Racing-inspired carbon-fiber bodywork, aerodynamic upgrades and - as we would come to learn at the Geneva Motor Show a few months later - fitted with a beastly twin-turbocharged engine shared with the parent company's spectacular Nissan GT-R.
Despite lacking the concept's gorgeously expensive paint, the vinyl-wrapped red prototype seen here is much more appealing than the static concept, as it is mechanically complete - it can be driven - thus explaining why I have traveled one-third of the way around the world to test this enthusiast-tuned, one-of-a-kind machine at one of Europe's premier testing facilities.
Infiniti's Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) is quite a novelty - the system employs no physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels under normal circumstances and instead relies on a computer, clutch and steering-angle actuator to guide vehicles down the road with input from the driver.
In our First Drive review of a 2014 Infiniti Q50 equipped with the system, we weren't overly impressed by the artificial feedback. But we can't help but be impressed with how long Infiniti spent on its development: a full 10 years, according to Autoline Daily in the video report below. A staggering 70 percent of the research and development time spent on DAS was devoted to getting the steering feel right, and unfortunately, our first impression suggests their results still leave something to be desired, as we found it lacked the sporty feeling a sport sedan should have.
The weight of DAS is comparable to that of a conventional steering system due to its complexity. For example, three ECUs are used in the first-generation DAS system to ensure there's never a loss of steering, but Infiniti is refining the technology and is working to simplify it to reduce weight. One day Infiniti hopes that only one ECU will be needed to control DAS. We just hope it doesn't take the Japanese automaker another ten years to get the steering feel right.