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Infiniti injects some beast into Q50

Code red: A mild makeover will hide major changes under the bonnet for Infiniti’s Q50 in the second half of 2016.

New 298kW twin-turbo V6 set to light up Infiniti’s Q50 mid-sized sedan in 2016

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Infiniti logo16 Dec 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

INFINITI’S manic Q50 Eau Rouge super sedan project might have been stillborn, but the Japanese luxury car-maker is getting set to dish up the next best thing in the form of a 298kW twin-turbo V6 Q50 performance flagship, that borrows technology from the legendary Nissan GT-R.

The output is well short of the promised 420kW of the Q50 Eau Rouge concept shown at the 2014 Geneva motor show – and shelved in January this year after prototype testing – but still within 19kW of the benchmark BMW M3 with its 317kW/550Nm 3.0-litre inline twin-turbo six.

The new lightweight engine – dubbed VR30 – will be also come in a less frantic 224kW/400Nm version when the powertrain arrives as part of a 2016 update for the mid-sized Q50. The engine will be spread across other Infiniti models over time.

The updated Q50 will also get significant technology gains, including an upgraded adaptive steering system and multi-mode dynamic suspension control.

Infiniti Cars Australia today confirmed that the changes will arrive in this market in the second half of 2016.

The arrival of the improved Q50 will cap a huge year for Nissan’s luxury brand in Australia where the updated Q70 sedan will kick off proceedings in February and be followed by the all-new Q30 hatch and related QX30 crossover in the third quarter, and the all-new Q60 sports coupe in the fourth quarter.

The names of the new Q50 V6 variants for Australia are yet to be revealed, but the media release from Hong Kong calls the 3.0-litre versions Sport, and photographs show a “Q50S” badge on the boot.

The new VR V6 will become the fourth powertrain line in the Q50 in Australia, joining the 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre petrol four cylinder, 125kW/400Nm 2.2-litre diesel and 268kW/546Nm petrol-electric hybrid based on the VQ 3.5-litre V6. The hybrid can be had in two- or four-wheel drive formats.

All engines are mated with Infiniti’s seven-speed automatic transmission with so-called adaptive shift control that uses a lateral acceleration sensor to detect sporty driving and adjust the changes accordingly.

At 3.0 litres, the VR engine is smaller than most of the VQ engine variants before it, but nevertheless is more potent, thanks to a range of engine developments such as a new blower design, high-pressure direct injection and advanced valve timing than employs an electric motor mounted on the valve timing system.

The new turbos are said to spin to 220,000 rpm – 10 per cent faster than before – thanks to a new optical turbine speed sensor.

This results in a 30 per cent boost in turbo performance in the most potent version of the VR engine that develops peak power of 298kW at 6400rpm and top torque of 475Nm between 1600rpm and 5200rpm.

No fuel consumption figures have been provided, but Infiniti claims a 6.7 per cent improvement over the VQ engine and best-in-class power-to-efficiency ratio.

To cope with the extra heat generated by the higher performance, the 298kW version of the V6 gets twin waters pumps, while the 224kW version gets one.

As well, the engine gets a new air-to-liquid charge cooler, and a new electronic waste-gate actuator designed to reduce turbo lag and improve engine efficiency.

At 194kg, the engine’s core structure is 14kg lighter than that of the VQ V6, although the new turbos and charge cooler stack on an extra 25.8kg.

Infiniti says the Q50 will get its new second-generation adaptive steering system that delivers improved steering feel and the ability to tailor the steering to the driver’s preferences.

For the first time, digital suspension control will not only constantly adjust damper control for flat cornering but also allow Q50 drivers to dial up suspension settings to their taste, from comfort to sporty.

The Drive Mode Selector has six settings – standard, snow, eco, sport, sport+ and personal. The latter allows for bespoke engine, suspension and steering characteristics.

These new features will be added to all Q50 variants with the arrival of the MY16 range.

The 298kW Q50 will be distinguished from its tamer brethren by 19-inch alloy wheels and big-bore chrome-tipped twin exhausts.

Inside, the updated Q50 gets twin LCD screens – eight-inch upper and seven-inch lower – with advanced hand-gesture operation.

Launched in Australia in early 2014, the Q50 replaced the Infiniti G under Infiniti’s new nomenclature. Current Q50 prices start at $50,900 for the 2.0GT and top out at $73,400 for the Hybrid S-Premium AWD.

So far this year, Infiniti sales have jumped by a third over the same period of 2014, with dealers delivering 530 units.

The Q50 accounts for about half of those sales – 288 units – and if by far the brand’s biggest seller.

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