A few years ago steering wheels that had no connection to anything mechanical and relied on computers to work were confined to driving simulators and games like Gran Turismo and Need for Speed.
But in the fast developing world of cutting-edge automotive technology, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that steer-by-wire has arrived in the real world and Infiniti’s brilliant new Q50 is the first car on the planet to use it.
It’s called Direct Adaptive Steering. DAS is actually digitally enhanced steering.
It bypasses the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the car’s wheels.
In other words, the steering column is redundant, well, sort of. Instead, electronic sensors measure the driver’s turn of the steering wheel and transmit data to an actuator which operates the steering rack and decides the angle of turn.
Just to be on the safe side there are two back-up systems in case one fails.
In the unlikely event of all three malfunctioning the car re-engages the traditional mechanical steering.
My immediate concern was that because there is no direct connection between the steering wheel and the road there would be no feedback to the driver and it would feel a little numb.
That isn’t the case because the actuator provides feedback and although this is simulated it works spectacularly well and I found the steering incredibly precise at all speeds.
The benefit of having no direct mechanical connection to the road also means that all vibrations, caused by uneven surfaces are totally eliminated, providing a smoother drive.
The Q50, which replaces the outgoing G37, represents Infiniti’s determination to take on the German premium brands that currently dominate the luxury sedan sector and one look at this handsome car tells you they mean business.
The design, without being overspectacular, is muscular and sleek.
The front, with its LED headlights, is probably its best feature with a distinctively aggressive look whilst the side profile and the rear complete a classy appearance.
Inside, Infiniti have done a great job of creating a cabin that is compact and luxurious with stylish leather seats, wood veneer trim, brushed metals, and a really cool centre console which has two touch screens, one 8-inch at the top for the impressive sat-nav display, and a 7-inch at the bottom where you control the infotainment.
Using Infiniti InTouch you can access an impressive array of apps which can be used to integrate your smart-phone into the car’s computer.
It even has a system which reads out your incoming emails while you concentrate on driving.
The Q50 also has something called Predictive Forward Collision Warning which not only monitors the car in front of you but also the one in front of that to give you extra time to react to an emergency.
To drive, the Q50, which was officially launched in Abu Dhabi by Al Masaood Automobiles on Sunday, is superb.
There are four different modes you can select, depending on how you want the car to perform, from economy to sport.
The 3.7 litre V6 engine with 326 bhp and torque of 361nm is gutsy and efficient, delivering power to the rear wheels via an excellent automatic gearbox.
I drove the Q50 S version but there is a hybrid available which, with the electric motor, boosts the bhp to 350.
The car has a 0-100kmh time of around five seconds and the handling is faultless Apart from the amazing technology, performance, and high-end quality the Q50 is well priced for a prestige vehicle.
Starting from Dh169,000 for the entry model it is excellent value for an extraordinary car that is more than a match for its German rivals.
Why Buy It
Infiniti Q50 – Specifications
Manufacturer : Infiniti
Production : 2013 to present
Class : Luxury sedan
Body style : Four-seater
Layout : Rear wheel drive
Engine : 3.7 litre V6
Output : 326bhp
Torque : 361nm
0-100km : 5 seconds (approx)
Transmission : 7-speed automatic with paddle shifts
Kerb weight : 1,756kg
Top speed : 233km/h
Price : From Dh169,000
Rating out of 10: 8.5
Here is a review of the Infiniti Q50
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