DRIVEN’s ace correspondent James Lamdin is back with another racy report. Read on…
We’ve said it time and again: the only proper way to try out a new automobile is on a racetrack.
A potent road machine from Infiniti that comes chock-full of high-tech features
The Q50S (née G37) is a looker, a potent road machine, and comes chock-full of high-tech features on which the brand is basing most of its marketing efforts (more on those later).
But before we get to all that, let’s get this out of the way immediately: this new Q goes like stink.
And by “goes like stink,” I mean the kind of demonic-smile-inducing, tire-cooking, ass-out drifting stink that can only come from a RWD-biased 360hp beast… with traction control off.
In full disclosure, my first lap around the track was with the traction left in the “ON” position, and the experience wasn’t anywhere near the above-described madness.
Demonic-smile-inducing, tire-cooking, ass-out drifting goes like stink
It was… well, it was what you’d expect from a modern techno-sport-sedan laden with all the latest in dynamic electronic nannies.
But unlike many of its counterparts, they can be shut off to good effect.
Most times shutting off traction control doesn’t add up to much else than moving the activation threshold back ever so slightly.
With the Q50S, deactivating the nannies let’s you hang it all out.
Let’s just say my second lap was a breath of fresh air. And a little bit of freshly mowed grass.
Needless to say, this got me in a little trouble with the track officials.
With the Q50S, deactivating the nannies let’s you hang it all out
Apparently, smoking tires whilst drifting a decreasing radius right hooker is frowned upon south of the Mason-Dixon.
Fortunately, Southern manners being what they are, they let me keep my helmet on and my ass planted in the driver’s seat.
It took several more polite requests before I backed off on the heavy right footing—plenty of time to experience the Q50S for what it really is underneath all of its technologically dazzling outerwear: raw.
Quite frankly, the car reminded me of an older German sedan, one without all the refined (read: boring) elements currently found in the current generation benchmark sedans.
It harkens back to the late-’90s/early-2000s era of high horsepower without electronic overlords.
When teens jacked up on Mountain Dew were wrecking BMW M3s just by looking at them
When teenagers jacked up on Mountain Dew were wrecking BMW M3s just by looking at them.
And that’s not at all a bad thing.
With age comes wisdom (or just experience), and now that same generation of drivers can have a car that is nearly as untamed with the traction switched off—but have the option of driving it like an adult when it is on.
For the record, being an adult is overrated.
On the road, the Q50S is not quite as refined as its German competition in regards of handling, but that may be beside the point.
Furthermore, Global President Johann de Nysschen himself (former president of Audi North America) was clear in his presentation that Infiniti wasn’t targeting the other “Big Three” directly.
Infiniti is queued up to take top billing from the rest of the field
Rather, they are queued up to take top billing from the rest of the field.
And based on our time behind the wheel, that might not be so difficult for them.
As mentioned previously, the Q50S is also a veritable showcase of the most modern technologies available in a road car.
Most notably, the Q50S is the world’s first production car to feature Steer-by-Wire technology.
Still featuring a backup mechanical (rack and pinion) steering layout for the time being, representatives from Infiniti are adamant that the technology will ultimately become mainstream, and find its way into automobiles from every major manufacturer.
The world’s first production car to feature Steer-y-bWire tech
The benefits of Steer-by-Wire are simple in theory: more precise steering, minimized feedback through the steering column on rough roads, and the ability for a computer to make micro-adjustments to your lane position without driver input.
We put that last bit to the test on the freeway, cruising at 75 miles per hour without hands on the wheel while the car steered itself and maintained lane position for several miles.
The obvious robot uprising notwithstanding (remember Skynet??), we are slowly warming to the reality that all these fancy technologies are here to stay, and that three-pedaled, crank-windowed, carbureted machines are never coming back.
Ultimately, the Q50S is a bit of a rolling contradiction.
It is a supercomputer on wheels, combined with a raw, tire-burning appetite for mayhem.
A supercomputer on wheels, combined with a raw, tire-burning appetite for mayhem
Infiniti may be furthering the evolution of the automobile at an alarming rate with their Steer-by-Wire technologies and whatnot, but as long as you can switch traction off and hoon it around a racetrack just like we used to in the good old days.
And I’m okay with that…
- Posted December 20, 2013
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- James Lamdin for DRIVEN