The Infiniti Q50 Sport features an award-winning steer-by-wire system
Infiniti reinvented UNUSUAL: The centre console in the Q50 has two vertically stacked touchscreens. The eight-inch screen on top displays the clock and reverse camera images and other peripheral functions, while the seven-inch screen below accesses the various vehicle settin

UNTIL recently, Infiniti was better known for its outsized petrol engines. But with the introduction of the Q50 with a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit, this well-priced mid-sized sedan is quickly building a name for the marque.

Now the curvaceous model is further defining its image with a new technological feature - steer-by-wire.

Like drive-by-wire, there is no mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels on the Infiniti Q50 Sport. Actually there is, but the Direct Adaptive Steering or DAS system physically engages the steering shaft to the column and rack only as a backup in case of electronic failure.

Otherwise, the award-winning innovation bypasses the shaft to electronically transmit driver input to the front wheels through a steering sensor integrated with a compact motor. The effect is to reduce unnecessary feedback from the road surface and increase stability.

The result is very sensitive steering that can be customised depending on personal preference.

DAS allows for combinations of what it terms "Effort" and "Response". At one end of the spectrum, there is Light Effort with Casual Response for "smooth steering feel with lighter effort and easy vehicle response with slower steering ratio". In the middle, Standard Effort with Standard Response offers, as expected,

a standard steering ratio with a more balanced feel.

The other extreme is Heavy Effort with Quick Response. This mode may initially feel overweighted but when you get used to it, it is difficult to select another. With its quicker steering ratio, it is highly reassuring when travelling fast.

Best of all though, it provides excellent feedback and precision. It is so responsive that even halfway into a sweeping corner, it is still possible to make small adjustments to your trajectory with confidence.

Alternatively, Standard Effort can be combined with Quick Response for slightly less heavy but still faster steering. But maximum steering effort and response has to be the best combo for keen driving.

The Q50 already has very sporty handling with front double wishbone suspension and rear multi-links. It hugs the road well, with a ride that is very firm but not harsh. The two-litre turbocharged engine which drives the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission is a Mercedes-Benz powertrain that

is also found in the C-Class and E-Class. So it's no surprise that the transmission, which can also be manually shifted using the gear lever, is slick.

The interior is pleasant but doesn't otherwise stand out except for the eye-catching metallic trim inspired by samurai body armour.

The centre console is unusual, however, with two vertically stacked touchscreens. The eight-inch screen on top displays the clock and reverse camera images (there are four cameras for front, rear and bird's eye views) and other peripheral functions, while the seven-inch screen below accesses the various vehicle settings like climate control and the sound system.

At the back, the rear bench is slightly raised for better forward visibility but headroom is still good. So is legroom with the long 2,850 mm wheelbase. But the centre seat is a tight due to the transmission tunnel.

There are two variants and only the Q50 Sport comes with the DAS feature. It costs S$15,000 more than the Q50 Premium, with other equipment differences including an electric sunroof, 14-speaker Bose sound system and 19-inch alloy wheels versus 17 inches. But it would be money worth spending if only for the first-rate steering.

CAR INFORMATION

Infiniti Q50 2.0T Sport (A)

Price

:$204,800

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,991 cc

Horsepower

:

208 bhp / 5,500 rpm

Torque

:

350 Nm / 3,500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A)

Acceleration

:

7.2 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

245 km/h