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Q50 hybrid is Infiniti’s eco-bahn stormer

19.09.2014

WHEN the Infiniti Q50 was dropped off outside Autodealer’s HQs, I was excited. You see, this was my first taste of Nissan’s luxury wing since it entered South Africa, a couple of years ago.

I wanted to see why the public at large was so unaware of the brand. You hardly see any Infinitis on the road, and after driving one for a week I have to ask, why? It’s very good – indeed!

I started my mini-research assignment with random traffic light, shopping centre and sidewalk enquiries whereby I would ask random citizens what they thought of the vehicle. The general consensus was that it is a handsome vehicle but some did ask whether it was a Chinese product. When asked why, many thought that its badge resembled that of the Chery. Others said it looked German but the vast majority said they had no idea.

I assured them that this was Nissan’s rather impressive answer to Lexus. Many were impressed and even asked if they could have a look inside. Herein lies the problem with the brand in SA… in my opinion. They are producing beautiful cars to look at and to drive, but the public is unaware of them.

My test unit was the performance hybrid Q50 which has a 3.5-litre V6 engine, similar to that fitted to the Nissan 370Z, with an electric powertrain supplementing power and torque for a combined output of 261kW/536Nm. The hybrid powertrain makes this a very fast car with a 0-100km/h time of 5.1 seconds. It’s the instantaneous torque that impresses most, though, as there is a degree of snap-on power in the Q50 that makes pressing the loud pedal quite intoxicating.

There’s a sports suspension, better brakes with regenerative braking and even a steer-by-wire steering system as standard. There may be more than enough grunt, but I felt disconnected from the driving experience when pushing the car along. It does much better as a fast grand tourer as it’s very comfortable and even quite frugal on the open road as I was able to get consumption as low as 7.8-litres/100km on a round trip.

It also works well as an everyday car hustling through the traffic-laden streets of Johannesburg, with an all-electric coasting function where the car shuts down the petrol engine, meaning zero fuel consumption when sitting in traffic. I managed to use the all-electric mode, right up until 40km/h.

The interior of a premium product is important and the Q50 doesn’t disappoint with solid build quality, high-quality materials and a modern facia. There are two LCD screens in the centre console which are slightly confusing at first. Infiniti call it the ‘InTouch’ system. It feels a bit like having two smartphones at the same time however, it does actually come in handy as it allows you to view two of the infotainment functions such as the Bluetooth, USB/iPod, radio or navigation simultaneously.

You also get features such as climate control, cruise control, speed limiter, stop/start, hill start assist, rear- view camera, rain sensing wipers, keyless entry, VDC, tyre pressure warning and brake assist. There are several packages available but the most useful is the Safety Shield Pack fitted to my test unit, which includes radar-guided cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot indicator, emergency braking and collision warning, both front and rear.

The one problem with the hybrid model is that the boot has been made smaller to accommodate the electric powertrain. This means the hybrid is missing a fairly vital piece of practicality required of an executive saloon.

In summation, the new Q50 is a very impressive vehicle with the latest in hybrid technology. The problem is that in terms of handling and practicality, the vehicle it is out-gunned by its German competition. On the other hand it goes, sounds and looks the part, which makes it very temping for the prospective executive saloon buyer out there.

The Q50 is covered by a three-year/100 000km warranty as well as a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan

Model: Infiniti Q50 hybrid RWD

Power  261kW/536Nm
Pricing R559 000
We Like Performance combined with efficiency
  Ride and comfort
We dislike Small boot

 

Article written by Sean Nurse
19.09.2014
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