Infiniti has touted itself as a sporty and high-tech luxury alternative to German premium brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
It may not yet have the heritage and cachet of those rivals, but does have driving input from four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel, the brand’s performance director.
The Infiniti Q50S Hybrid, a hybrid sports car, is the latest offering of the Nissan-owned luxury brand that aims to renew the competition in the crowded performance hybrid market.
|Behind the Wheel / Infiniti Q50S Hybrid: |
Design: ★★★☆☆, Interior: ★★★☆☆, Engine: ★★★★☆, Fuel economy: ★★★★☆, Cost and A/S: ★★★☆☆
Despite skepticism about the concept of a performance hybrid, now big names, including Porsche, McLaren and even Ferrari, are rolling out hybrid supercars.
Among them, the Infiniti Q50S Hybrid, priced at 67.6 million won ($66,000) here, is one of the cheapest hybrid supercars on the market. The cheaper pricing, however, doesn’t mean any compromises on power and speed.
The car shares the 364-horsepower V6 engine with the Q70S, the world’s fastest-accelerating full hybrid, while being equipped with an ultra-light lithium-ion battery pack.
Its zero to 100 kilometers per hour acceleration time takes just 4.9 seconds compared to the more popular, non-hybrid Q50’s 5.2-second run. Its fuel economy is 12.6 kilometers per liter.
Among a myriad of latest technologies on the car is the Direct Adaptive Steering, the world’s first steer-by-wire system, which allows a faster steering response and eliminates vibration at the steering wheel.
Unlike most cars having an electric motor hooked up to their steering rack, the Q50S has no tangible connection between the steering and the front wheels. A sensor on the wheel sends a signal to a computer, which sends a signal to the electric motors that move the front wheels.
It took some time for me to adjust to the artificial feeling of the steering when pulling out the parking lot. But the steering response became sharper and more accurate on the Sport mode. There was stark difference in the steering between driving modes.
The active braking system was good, bringing the car to a comfortable stop from any speed.
Other upscale features include the collision mitigation system that looks two cars ahead in order to prevent an accident by applying the brakes and a camera mounted on the front windshield that keeps the car in the center of the lane.
Two wide touch screens sit in the center stack and give access to a number of controls ― a better fit for Korean drivers who prefer touch controls rather than the tricky dials on BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The Q50S Hybrid is not a car for the mass market. Some critics would say the car fails to satisfy both sports car aficionados and economic drivers.
But it is undeniable that the emphasis in the luxury market is now on multitasking. A car needs to be comfortable, but also sporty enough for you to sneak in and out of traffic while texting your friends.
The intellectual technologies of the Q50S Hybrid will make you keep entertained on your otherwise boring commute.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com)