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Driven: Infiniti lands Q50 3.0tt punch

Seventy four, seventy five: Hand Infiniti an extra grand over the cost of the entry Q50 3.0tt and it will deliver the Red Sport variant which has an extra 74kW and 75Nm under the bonnet.

Feistier Infiniti Q50 likely to follow new twin-turbo 3.0tt performance pair

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Infiniti logo30 Sep 2016

INFINITI has taken another “step up” in its strategy to recapture the attention of Australian car buyers with a pair of twin-turbocharged V6-powered Q50 range-toppers that form a new performance halo for the brand.

Priced from $69,900 before on-road costs or $79,900 for the 298kW power king, the Japanese luxury car-maker now has a serious contender to do battle with BMW’ s 340i, the Audi S4 and Jaguar’s XE S, but an even more potent version is likely to join them.

If confirmed, Infiniti will be able to boast a challenger to the esteemed BMW M3 performance standard as well as the Mercedes-AMG C63 that snaps at its heels.

Speaking at the launch of the new Q50 3.00tt S Premium and 3.0tt Red Sport, Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux told GoAuto that the latest Q50 variants were a “stepping stone” and part of the brand’s focus on high performance.

“We are looking at options,” he said. “Performance is very important part of the brand … we are looking at more things that we can be doing in that respect.” “This engine is a real step up in terms of performance strategy. It’s a stepping stone.” Mr Roux would not elaborate on exactly what the Q50 3.0tt was a stepping stone to, but corporate communications general manager Peter Fadeyev added fuel to the fire when he highlighted the performance potential of its new 3.0-litre turbo V6.

“There’s a lot of scope of performance with this engine,” he said. “Watch this space”.

In 2014 Infiniti started development of a hi-po Q50, dubbed the Eau Rouge, that was powered by the Nissan GT-R’s twin-turbocharged 424kW 3.8-litre V6, but it was dropped in 2015 so the brand could focus on developing core models.

If Infiniti winds the taps open on its force-fed six-cylinder it could serve as both a flagship powerplant for both the Q50 sedan and forthcoming Q60 coupe, adding another contender in its ranks to take on the hi-po Europeans.

Until now the Q50 Hybrid S Performance has rounded out the top of the sedan range and Mr Roux explained that the electrified variant kicked off Infiniti’s performance push but would hand the baton on to the new V6 versions.

“Hybrid was the first element of performance, this (3.0tt) is another step up compared with where we were. Hybrid is a key focus for us as a point of differentiation compared to the competition. We don’t do hybrid as other companies do hybrid. We do performance hybrid.

“We are the technical partner for the Renault Formula One team so performance has always been in our DNA. Performance is a clear brand pillar”.

Until a new even more potent version arrives, customers have the choice of a 224kW/400Nm 3.0tt S Premium or the 298kW/475Nm 3.0tt Red Sport, which in both cases send power to the rear wheels via a Jatco seven-speed automatic transmission with magnesium paddle shifters.

Infiniti has not released performance figures for either version but comparisons to US models and zero to 60mph tests put the most powerful version in the zero to 100km/h acceleration region of between 4.8 and 5.1 seconds.

Top speed is limited to 250km/h and estimated fuel consumption is almost identical for both versions – 9.2L/100km for the S Premium and 9.3L/100km for the Red Sport.

At its core, the 3.0-litre V6 engine in both variants is mechanically the same, but their ancillaries differ significantly to liberate the extra 74kW and 75Nm from the Red Sport version.

In place of the single intercooler of the S Premium, the Red Sport has twin charge-coolers allowing the brace of turbochargers to pump out an increased boost pressure of 14.7 psi, up from 9.5 psi.

The adoption of air-to-liquid charge cooling over air-to-air intercooling reduces the distance that the air has to be channelled and increases the efficiency of the Red Sport arrangement as well as offering a more compact package.

Another significant update for the Q50 is a software revision for its revolutionary Direct Adaptive Steering which has been returned for a more natural and mechanical feel, says Infiniti. The DAS 2.0 system also now has six switchable settings and a faster reaction time.

The V6 pair also introduce Dynamic Digital Suspension for the Q50 range, while the five sub-3.0tt variants roll on sport-tuned double-wishbone suspension at the front end and a multi-link set up at the back.

Practicality has also been given a boost with a 60/40 split folding rear seat, with second row passengers also treated to a fold-down centre arm rest with cup holders.

Like the previous flagship Hybrid S Premium, the new Q50 pair have 19-inch wheels, the largest brakes of the range measuring 355mm with four-piston callipers at the front and 350mm at the back grabbed by twin-piston callipers.

The Eco accelerator pedal is also a carry-over from the hybrid and can push back at the driver’s foot to indicate a less efficient driving style.

Generally speaking the Q50 3.0tt S Premium equipment levels aligns with the three other S Premium variants including sports front seats covered in leather and electric adjustment, sport grille and bumpers, and sunroof.

The Red Sport range-topper adds to the S Premium kit with a black boot spoiler in addition to its performance credentials.

Infiniti trades on its proposition of generous levels of equipment for all versions included in the asking price and each of the now seven variants are supplied with a broad range of standard equipment.

LED headlights and foglights, a cabin air purifier, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry and engine start, double 7.0- and 8.0-inch central digital monitors complemented by a 5.0-inch vehicle information display and leather steering wheel are all included.

Standard safety systems are also well represented with Isofix child seat anchors, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and 360-degree view, tyre pressure monitoring and a five-star ANCAP rating.

All versions above the base GT pair also get adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning and assistance, blind-spot monitoring and assistance, back-up collision intervention and autonomous forward collision braking that monitors two cars ahead.

Comfort features for the V6 turbo Q50s include a 14-speaker Bose sound system with noise cancellation and surround sound, Bluetooth, USB, SD card, smartphone and auxiliary connectivity, digital radio, Infiniti InTouch applications and voice control.

2016 Infiniti Q50 pricing*
2.0t GT (a) $51,900
2.0t S Premium (a) $61,500
2.2d GT (a) $52,900
2.2d S Premium (a) $62,500
Hybrid S Premium (a) $68,900
Hybrid S Premium AWD (a) $74,400
3.0tt S Premium (a) $69,900
3.0tt Red Sport (a) $79,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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