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Infiniti is starting a new chapter in its relatively short life, with the new Q50 sedan the first model to be launched under the automaker’s bold new naming strategy.
It’s also the first to be launched under the watchful eye of Audi veteran Johan de Nysschen, who was recently appointed head of Infiniti’s global operations, which means it should come as no surprise that Infiniti’s new naming strategy mimics that used by Audi.
That new naming strategy essentially places a letter Q as the prefix for Infiniti’s regular models and a QX for its SUVs and crossovers.
The first of these new Q-cars, the Q50, serves as the replacement for the G37 Sedan and will initially launch with two powertrains. One is the 3.7-liter V-6 from the previous G37 and the other is the hybrid system found in the M35h. More powertrains, including a potential diesel, will be launched down the track.
Thanks to a leak over the weekend we already know what the Q50 looks like, however, these are the first official shots of the car, which was revealed to the public earlier today at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.
The styling of the car and the technology it’s packing sets the tone for future Infiniti models. The muscular look draws influences from previous Infiniti concepts such as the Essence and more recent LE, while elements such as the double-arch grille, waving character lines and crescent-cut C-pillar hint at past models in the lineup.
In the rear, the character lines smoothly merge with the shape of the LED-enhanced tail-lights. Infiniti says the windswept shape results in a coefficient of drag of just 0.26. The Q50 is also said to feature zero front and rear lift.The 3.7-liter V-6 available at launch rates at 328 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, while the available hybrid option matches a 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor for a combined output of 354 horsepower. This is the same output as the hybrid setup in the M35h, which remains the fastest accelerating hybrid.
With the new Q50’s presumably lighter body (it’s smaller than the M sedan), the hybrid version of the car could potentially be quicker and even more fuel efficient. The M35h does the 0-60 mph sprint in around 5.5 seconds and is capable of returning 27/32 mpg city/highway 29 mpg combined.
Both models feature a seven-speed automatic, though the hybrid Q50 (Infiniti doesn’t give it a unique name) packs its electric motor inside the gearbox. Two electronically-controlled clutches allow the full decoupling of the V-6 when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes, helping to reduce mechanical drag and boost the efficiency of the electric motor.
In addition to these two powertrains, customers will also have the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.
The suspension features double-wishbones up front, a multi-link setup in the rear and stabilizer bars at both ends. The standard wheels are 17-inch aluminum units with all-season run-flat tires, though 19-inch wheels with sport tires are available.
Steering is provided by a power-assisted vehicle-speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion system. One unique aspect is what Infiniti likes to call Direct Adaptive Steering technology, which allows independent control of the car’s tire angle and steering inputs, transmitting the driver’s intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system. Four different steering settings are offered, allowing customization by driver preference or road conditions.
A backup mechanical steering system is provided with models utilizing the new Direct Adaptive Steering technology. The new Q50 also gets an active lane control system that can automatically made adjustments to the steering wheel if it detects you’re crossing over into another lane.
Step inside and you’ll find a driver-focused cabin with plenty of luxury appointments as well as Infiniti’s new InTouch connectivity system. This latter feature relies on two touch-screen displays as its interface, one upper and one lower. Content and functions directed to the upper screen includes the most frequently used applications, such as navigation maps, while the rest goes to the lower display screen.
The two screens work together so that, for example, the navigation map can be viewed on the top screen while setting destinations or finding points-of-interest can be done on the lower screen. The system will also allow owners to download, update and synch personal apps through their smartphones or using the USB drives.
So that your favorite settings aren’t erased whenever someone else drives the car, Infiniti offers a new i-Key feature to recognize settings for up to four different drivers. Interestingly, the i-Key can recognize each driver and automatically engage pre-set preferences for driving position, heating and cooling, audio, navigation and telematics.
Key competitors for the new 2014 Infiniti Q50 include the Cadillac ATS, BMW 3-Series/ActiveHybrid 3, Lexus IS 350/ES 300h, Mercedes-Benz C Class and Buick Regal.
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