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Infiniti dollops 400hp into Q50. Image by Infiniti.

Infiniti dollops 400hp into Q50
Improvements to 2016 Infiniti Q50 include biturbo V6 engine and revised steering set-up.
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What's all this about?

Infiniti is a brand that is still struggling to make an impact here in Western Europe. But recent new products, like the Q30 hatchback and the forthcoming QX30 crossover, promise to bolster the company's modest showroom numbers. However, with global sales from January to October 2015 already up 65 per cent on the same period in 2014, things are already moving in the right direction for Infiniti. So now it's time to make the Q50 sports saloon a bit more of a competitive package.

How has Infiniti gone about that?

Possibly the biggest news revolves around the Q50's Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS), which was always a bugbear of the original car. DAS is an extremely sharp thing to use and it makes the otherwise fine Q50 hard to drive smoothly on a motorway. Well, Infiniti says this 'digital' steering is on its second generation for the 2016MY Q50, which apparently has steering feel and feedback 'more akin to that of a conventional steering system'. Some models get a standard hydraulic, electrically assisted steering rack, while others get the gen two DAS system or even an enhanced version called RACK Electronic Power Steering.

You said possibly the biggest news - what could be bigger than steering that actually works properly?

How about the presence of a 400hp biturbo V6 model in the line-up? Yes, that's got your attention, hasn't it? The 'VR30' unit is a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol engine and while it will be offered in 'lesser' 300hp trim in the Middle East markets, here it'll come as the 400hp full fat bad boy only. It develops peak power at 6,400rpm and backs that up with the healthy 475Nm from 1,600- to 5,200rpm, which means this should be a hell of a sleeper rival to the likes of the BMW M3. No performance data is released as yet but the Q50 V6 should be pretty brisk.

What other engines are on offer?

Two are familiar, carry-over conventional motors, a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit with 208hp and 350Nm, and a 2.1-litre turbodiesel with 168hp and 400Nm; both of these are sourced from Mercedes-Benz, whereas the VR six-pot is a Nissan/Infiniti developed powerplant. Additionally, there's a hybrid model that teams a 3.5-litre V6 of 302hp and 350Nm with a lithium-ion battery and a 50kW electric motor adding 67hp and 270Nm of torque. Infiniti quotes a maximum drivetrain output of 360hp. All engines, including the new biturbo V6, are mated to a seven-speed auto transmission with paddle shifts.

Has Infiniti changed the Q50's chassis?

Yes, Dynamic Digital Suspension (DDS) is included on the 3.0-litre, which is Infiniti's version of adaptive damping - it provides softer and firmer settings for various driving styles, which can be accessed by the car's Drive Mode Selector (DMS). Passively sprung Q50s, by the way, get their own revised suspension settings and front/rear anti-roll bars.

And can it still drive semi-autonomously along motorways?

If it's fitted with DAS and the Active Lane Control, then yes it can. Infiniti says this is just one step on the road to fully autonomous cars.

When does it go on sale?

In selected markets later in 2016, according to Infiniti.

Matt Robinson - 16 Dec 2015

2015 Infiniti Q50. Image by Infiniti.2015 Infiniti Q50. Image by Infiniti.2015 Infiniti Q50. Image by Infiniti.2015 Infiniti Q50. Image by Infiniti.    - Infiniti road tests
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