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Infiniti goes for gold


WHILE the Infiniti badge may be relatively unknown locally, F1 fans will be well- versed in this luxury brand’s history as the driving force behind the Red Bull team.

Launched on South African shores about two years ago, the Infiniti brand has slowly been growing its dealerships and its local footprint. And now, with a serious contender to take on the German trio in the D-segment, in the form of the Q50, this Japanese-bred machine pioneers a host of firsts in this segment.

It’s a superb looking Samurai in the flesh with some exotic lines and curves. The front face is aggressive and the halogen daytime running lights or distinctive LED headlamps on the premium grade are stunning. Moving along the sleek coupé-like profile to the rear, where LED lights in the rear lamp units and twin chrome-trimmed exhaust pipes greet you.

There is certainly an understated level of sporty performance that can only be felt and enjoyed when getting behind the wheel of this Japanese warrior.

Inside, it’s all class, thanks to the premium finish, which includes a leather-bound steering wheel and a high level of technology, as the dashboard features the Infiniti’s all-new InTouch system with its dual LCD VGA touch screens along with a fully customisable digital environment.

It’s an intuitive system and once you understand how it operates, it will usher in a new way of how we interact with the Q50.

The cabin feels organised and depending on your spec level, there could be hints of a sporty touch decorated throughout the interior.

Two engine derivatives are available: the easygoing 2.2-litre diesel, which thrives on the open road and cruises along rather nicely and - not forgetting Infiniti’s sporty nature - it also offers a hybrid model mated to a 3.5-litre V6 engine.

Performance is truly the name of the game as it shuffles from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and thanks to the power being transferred to the rear wheels it’s rather fun as the car willingly hangs its rear out when being chucked through the corners.

Flicking through the various suspension setups and steering response, the Q50 delivers a rather engaging drive. But for those who prefer greater stability an all-wheel option for the hybrid grade is available.

An innovation being used, which adds to the sportiness, is the Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS), ‘steer by wire’ technology that has only previously been seen on the latest jet planes. DAS provides the driver with the ability to adjust both the steering’s response and weight to suit personal preferences and type of driving.

The Q50 is an impressive first outing for Infiniti in this segment locally; offering a strong package which delivers on driving fun and space, along with various innovative technologies.

However, the newly launches Mercedes C-Class is certainly the show-stopper in the segment and already leaves Infiniti playing catch-up.

That said the Q50 is aimed at the premium buyer who wants to sway away from the norm and mundane and step in and drive out with something unique.

Starting at R399 900 for the Q50 base, which includes features like drive mode selector, rear-view camera and cruise control to name a few. The Q50 Premium sells for R429 000 and offers, in addition, leather seats, front heated seats and a seven-speed auto. The Sport will retail for R474 000 and gets 18-inch alloy wheels and sport powered front seats and a host of other features. The range-topping Q50S Hybrid will retail for R559 000 and comes with the sports suspension and regenerative braking system as well as sport brakes.

The Q50 can also be personalised with five different option packs ranging from around R20 000 for the Visibility pack to R27 000 for the Safety Shield pack.

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