The Truth About Cars » q50 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 30 Jul 2015 22:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » q50 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 2015 Infiniti Q50S Review (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-infiniti-q50s-review-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-infiniti-q50s-review-video/#comments Mon, 08 Jun 2015 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1078809 When Infiniti launched their original G sedan, the brand started gaining a reputation as “the Japanese BMW” due to its sharp handling and V6 engine that loved to rev. Today, the Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS have taken the 3-Series’ place as the compact luxury sedans with the sharpest handing and best feel. What of […]

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2015 Infiniti Q50S Exterior

When Infiniti launched their original G sedan, the brand started gaining a reputation as “the Japanese BMW” due to its sharp handling and V6 engine that loved to rev. Today, the Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS have taken the 3-Series’ place as the compact luxury sedans with the sharpest handing and best feel. What of the Japanese BMW then? To answer that question, Infiniti sent me a 2015 Q50S with all the options, including the controversial steer-by-wire system.

It’s my opinion the run-away sales success of the 3-Series (142,000 sold in the USA alone last year) has more to do with BMW being the ultimate marketing machine, not making the “ultimate driving machine.” The current generation 335i is certainly fast, but compared to the E36, it’s bigger, softer, more numb, more luxurious and better built than ever before. That’s not a slam because those qualities are exactly why I like the 3-Series more now than ever before. Rather than chasing the “old 3-Series” as Lexus and Cadillac have in many ways, Infiniti decided to create their own definition of the ultimate driving machine.

Before we go much further, you should remember when Infiniti launched the Q50 as a “replacement” for the G37, they kept the G37 around and renamed it the Q40 (still available as a 2015 model). This is an interesting twist on the norms in this segment. Most of the competition simply drops a lower output engine in the same vehicle rather than keeping the old model on as the discount alternative. This means the IS 250, 320i, A3 and CLA 250 all start below the Q50’s $37,150 price tag and compete more directly with the Q40. Although some have called the Q50’s sales “weak”, when you look at the whole picture, the Q40 and Q50 combined have outsold the Lexus IS 250 and IS 350 by 4,000 units and together are nipping at the Lexus ES’ heels.

2015 Infiniti Q50S Exterior-005

Exterior
Styled after Infiniti’s Essence concept, the Q50’s exterior combines sleek, flowing lines with an enormous maw and angry LED headlamps. Although I know that some of our readers have referred to the Q50 as an “angry fish,” I actually like the look. I don’t think it’s as aggressive as the ATS or as refined as the new C-Class but it is far more distinctive than the 3-Series and A4 and less controversial than the IS 350 F-Sport. For some reason, the side and rear of the Q50 remind me a great deal of the Mazda6. Let me know what you see down in the comment section.

Infiniti’s entry in this segment has always been on the larger side of things and that continues with the Q50. At 189.1 inches long, the Infiniti is a hair bigger than the Audi A4 and slightly smaller than the 3-Series GT hatchback. In case you were wondering, that’s still several inches shorter than the Acura TLX and Lexus ES which are 5-Series sized but 3-Series priced.

2015 Infiniti Q50S Interior

Interior
The Q50 wears the best interior that Infiniti has ever made. While no hands have rubbed silver dust into the Q50’s optional maple trim (as in the Q70), this cabin is easily one of the best in the segment. The new Mercedes C-class still wears the interior design and workmanship crown, but the compact Infiniti climbs up the luxury ladder to a place above the Acura TLX and a small notch above the BMW 3-Series. (The maple trim is only offered on top-end trims.)

Thanks to the Q50’s generous exterior dimensions, we have rear seats with more leg room than any of the compact luxury sedans, but you will find more room in the 3-GT. Unfortunately, like many compact luxury entries, rear headroom suffers due to the car’s sexy side profile. If you were hoping for a large trunk, you’ll be disappointed. The Q50’s trunk holds just 13.5 cubic feet, only a hair bigger than the Mercedes CLA or BMW 3-Series despite the car being larger in general. If you opt for the Q50 Hybrid then trunk volume shrinks to a decidedly convertible like 9.4 cubic feet, a hair less than BMW’s ActiveHybrid 3.

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Infotainment
The Q50 is the first Infiniti to receive the new 2-screen InTouch infotainment system which uses both an 8-inch touchscreen LCD and a 7-inch touchscreen LCD. Like the last generation Infiniti systems, you can also control most of the system’s functions via a joystick-like button on the steering wheel. But wait! There’s more! Infiniti also includes a new navigation control wheel in the center console behind the shifter a la iDrive and MMI. This gives the driver three different input methods to choose from. However, not all features can be accessed via the steering wheel control or the control wheel, and some options will need to be ‘touched’.

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Some passengers were truly and permanently perplexed by the 2-screen layout, but I adjusted to the software quickly. While this sounds like Acura’s 2-screen system, Infiniti’s solution is better thought out and both screens are touch-enabled rather than just one as in the Acura system. Acura’s advertised goal was to allow you to keep the top screen for navigation while you used the lower screen to play with your audio device, but that’s only half true as the top screen is needed to perform a large number of audio functions. In the Infiniti, the function overlap between the screens is large, so you can browse your media device and perform select other operations via either screen. This level of choice seems to be what confuses some shoppers. I have never seen a car infotainment interface that has so many ways of doing the same thing. On the flip side, by the second day, I settled into the system preferring to ignore the controller in the console and use a combination of steering wheel controls and the lower touchscreen.

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Drivetrain
Rather than starting with a turbocharged four-banger, Infiniti skips entry-level power and makes a 328 horsepower 3.7L V6 standard on all Q50 models. (Other world markets get a Mercedes sourced four-cylinder turbo gasoline mill and four-cylinder diesel as well.) The engine’s 269 lb-ft of torque slots between the 2.0L turbo and 3.0L turbo competition. Should you need more oomph, Infiniti’s answer is not forced-induction, but hybridization. The Q50 Hybrid uses the same hybrid system we first saw in the M35h. Engine displacement drops to 3.5L and power to 302 horsepower. The engine is then mated to a 67 horsepower electric motor for a combined 360 horsepower and an undisclosed torque figure. (I estimate it at 380-400 lb-ft.)

Both engines are mated to essentially the same 7-speed automatic transmission and an optional mechanical AWD system. The key differences in the hybrid model (aside from the electric motor) are the additions of a dry clutch between the engine and the 360V AC motor and a wet clutch inside the transmission case that allows the wheels to be decoupled from the transmission. This allows the batteries to charge while the car is stationary and smooths out EV-to-gasoline mode changes.

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Drive
Our tester was the “S” model which “sported” sport brakes, sport seats, sport suspension, magnesium paddle shifters staggered summer tires (245/40R19 front and 265/35R19 rear). Even with 3,675 pounds of curb weight to hustle, the Q50S corners exceptionally well and the double wishbone suspension and dual-mode dampers keep the suspension settled over broken pavement. Opt for the standard all-season rubber and grip is a little lower than the more athletic competition. Where the Q50 splits from the pack is in the feel.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the optional Direct Adaptive Steering system. That’s what Infiniti calls their steer-by-wire system in the Q50 and, to be perfectly blunt, it makes the Q50 feel “video game-ish.”

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Unless the system detects a fault, there is no mechanical connection between the wheels and the steering wheel. If a fault is detected, or if the power is off, a clutch pack closes giving a mechanical connection. This allows the steering system to “compensate” for things like potholes, cross winds, grooved pavement, etc by keeping the wheels pointed the direction you’ve indicated by the steering wheel regardless of slight inputs from the road. The car can send back as much feedback as it wants, but this is kept to a minimum. This reduces driver fatigue on long trips, but the feeling of the car moving slightly in the lane in response to external forces while the steering wheel does nothing is unusual to say the least.

In addition to the steer-by-wire system, the Q50 gets “active trace control”, which uses the brakes to slow individual wheels “vectoring” you around the corner. The result of all these systems together is steering that may almost be “too precise.” In a corner, at even eight-tenths, you expect to get a slight hint of understeer. You may not even realize that your car is doing this because it is so “normal.” The Q50, however, goes exactly where you point it, something that takes some getting used to. Infiniti’s interpretation of the “ultimate driving machine” philosophy seems to be one that prioritizes actual steering precision and road holding over feel and connection.

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Steering feel aside, the Q50 acquits itself well in every other area. The S model accelerates with the best in the segment, posting a 5.05 second run to 60 in our RWD tester and a 60-0 distance of a scant 111 feet. Non S rear-wheel drive models will be a hair slower due to the reduced traction. Also, since there was essentially no wheel slip in the rear-wheel drive Q50S, the AWD model will actually slow the 0-60 time by a hair. If you want something faster, the hybrid model will dip below 4.8 seconds. There are few entries faster than the Q50 and if you want to get to highway speeds faster than the Q50 Hybrid, you’ll be left with just the 335i, C400 and S4.

Fuel economy in the Q50 is similar to the other 300+ horsepower entries in this segment, with the exception of the Volvo S60 T6 Drive e and BMW 335i that can average in the mid 20s when driven gently. Jump in the hybrid and you can average over 30 mpg if you keep your highway speeds under 75 mph. The economy is similar to the GS 450h but 0-60 and passing performance is dramatically better.

2015 Infiniti Q50S Exterior.CR2-002

For 2015, the Q50 starts at $37,150, which is closer to the less powerful four-cylinder competition. That is just $600 more than the sluggish IS 250, $910 more than an ATS 2.0T and manages to actually be $350 less than a base 328i. Audi’s A4 is a decent deal starting $1,650 less than the Q50, but you get 108 fewer ponies and they are all prancing through the front wheels via a CVT. When it comes to the 300 hp crowd, the Infiniti is $5,000 less than the ATS 3.6 and $2,000 less than even the Volvo S60 T6. Start adding options to your Q50 and some of the discount shrinks, but the Q50 remains the discount RWD alternative. The Q50 Hybrid is $4,400 more than a comparable gasoline Q50, but $10,000 less than a comparably equipped BMW ActiveHybrid 3.

If you know me, you know that I love a bargain. The very word “value” causes my loins to burn. The Q50 is the best RWD value in this luxury segment. Period. We get more standard power and performance, a well-appointed cabin, standard LED lamps and two screens for less with reasonable resale value expectations.

Perhaps the most important thing to know about the Q50 is Direct Adaptive Steering is not standard – you do have to select the $3,100 “Deluxe Touring Package” to get it. On the downside, that package includes real wood trim, auto dimming mirrors, power tilt/telescopic steering column, memory seats, parking sensors and the nifty 360 view camera. Not selecting that package gets you a steering rack that is still un-engaging but feels considerably more traditional. The rumor mill tells us that the G37’s hydraulic steering rack is likely to be resurrected and grafted into the S trims of the Q50 for 2016. Let’s hope that happens soon.

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While the ATS and IS 350 are more dynamic options, I suspect I’d buy the Q50 instead due to its interior, infotainment system, performance and price. I have to admit that I would also buy the model with DAS if I was unable to wait for 2016. No, I don’t actually “like” DAS, but I like the features bundled with it more than I dislike it. If there’s one thing that becomes obvious when you drive over a hundred cars a year, it’s that actual buyers adjust to the way a car feels much more readily than journalists do. Is the Q50’s steering odd feeling? Sure, in a comparative sense it is, but you’ll also get used to it after a few days and then it will feel perfectly normal to most shoppers. I wouldn’t call the Q50 the ultimate driving machine, but if my money were on the line, I’d get the Q50S AWD Hybrid.

Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.1 Seconds

0-60: 5.05 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 13.45 Seconds @ 104.2 MPH

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US Nissan Plant To Supply Engine For Euro-Special Infiniti Q50 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-nissan-plant-to-supply-engine-for-euro-special-infiniti-q50/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-nissan-plant-to-supply-engine-for-euro-special-infiniti-q50/#comments Thu, 12 Jun 2014 11:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=842922 In its fight against the big premium brands in Europe, Infiniti is calling upon some German-designed American firepower for its Japanese-made, Euro-market special Q50 sedan. Automotive News reports the Q50 will receive a 2-liter turbo-four from an $319 million Infinti-only line inside Nissan’s engine plant in Decherd, Tenn.; total overall production is expected to reach […]

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2014 Infiniti Q50

In its fight against the big premium brands in Europe, Infiniti is calling upon some German-designed American firepower for its Japanese-made, Euro-market special Q50 sedan.

Automotive News reports the Q50 will receive a 2-liter turbo-four from an $319 million Infinti-only line inside Nissan’s engine plant in Decherd, Tenn.; total overall production is expected to reach 250,000 annually while employing 400. The same engine will be used by Mercedes in its next-generation C-Class launching this year from the German automaker’s factory in Vance, Ala.

The plan, set to begin in late June, is part of a product-sharing agreement between parent companies Renault-Nissan and Daimler, as well as a checkbox for Infiniti’s to-do global portfolio expansion list.

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Skyline Sedan to Wear Infiniti Badge, Not Much Else http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/skyline-sedan-to-wear-infiniti-badge-not-much-else/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/skyline-sedan-to-wear-infiniti-badge-not-much-else/#comments Wed, 13 Nov 2013 14:22:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=650114 While Nissan plans to resurrect Datsun to battle Toyota’s scions in North America, the automaker is bringing Infiniti back home to Japan by delicately mounting its badge just so upon the grill of what will be the Skyline sedan. Just the badge, though. Not only will the new Skyline — based off the Q50 — […]

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Infiniti Q50 - Skyline

While Nissan plans to resurrect Datsun to battle Toyota’s scions in North America, the automaker is bringing Infiniti back home to Japan by delicately mounting its badge just so upon the grill of what will be the Skyline sedan. Just the badge, though.

Not only will the new Skyline — based off the Q50 — not be dubbed an Infiniti, it also won’t be dubbed a Nissan, instead going by the full name of Skyline, by Nissan Motor Co. The new identity is an attempt to tie the new Skyline back into the Japanese imperial family, whose Emperor Akihito lent his then-title to Prince Motor Co. in 1952; the first Skyline debuted three years later.

With this strategy, Nissan is entering into a (very) soft launch of the Infiniti brand in its native Japan by doing more to separate the two lines; as a further example, Infiniti’s headquarters were recently relocated to Hong Kong, with their C-suite focused solely upon the luxury brand.

Expectations for the Skyline include 200 sedans sold to local customers per month, increasing to 500 sales/month a year after its launch. Nissan will also price the Skyline accordingly to match their German competitors in BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

Should the experiment prove fruitful, Infiniti could make its debut in Japan sooner than later to aid in the capture of 10 percent of the global premium car market by 2020 as part of CEO Carlos Ghosn’s Power 88 plan.

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Inside The Industry: If It’s So Hard For Infiniti To Come To Japan, How Easy Do You Expect It To Be For Other Brands? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/inside-the-industry-if-its-so-hard-for-infiniti-to-come-to-japan-how-easy-do-you-expect-it-to-be-for-other-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/inside-the-industry-if-its-so-hard-for-infiniti-to-come-to-japan-how-easy-do-you-expect-it-to-be-for-other-brands/#comments Wed, 15 May 2013 12:31:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488555 “So would this new Infiniti Q50 be the new JDM Nissan Skyline?” asked TTAC commenter luvmyv8. One of the benefits of having a TTAC editor on the other side of the globe, as opposed to in a basement in Peoria, is that we can get first-hand answers to luvmyv8, straight from Nissan’s and Infiniti’s top […]

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IMG_4647“So would this new Infiniti Q50 be the new JDM Nissan Skyline?” asked TTAC commenter luvmyv8. One of the benefits of having a TTAC editor on the other side of the globe, as opposed to in a basement in Peoria, is that we can get first-hand answers to luvmyv8, straight from Nissan’s and Infiniti’s top men.IMG_4161

“What I can tell you today is that the Skyline name will continue in Japan,” said Nissan’s CEO Carlos Ghosn in regards to luvmyv8. When pressed further, Ghosn said that bringing Infiniti to Japan “has always been the object of a lot of discussion within the company.” Ghosn started his answer with a mild put-down:

“With the arrival of newcomers … by Johan de Nysschen now heading the Infiniti business, he also brought with him a lot of very competent people from the industry who have a very good knowledge of the premium market. We are debating and challenging everything. But so far there is no decision that has been taken about the introduction of the Infiniti brand to Japan. But it is being discussed. There are pros, there are cons. Usually, we make thorough business decisions based on the analysis of the pros and the cons. For the moment, all I can tell you is that there is no decision to introduce Infiniti in Japan. The Skyline will continue in Japan.”

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TTAC readers know that Infiniti chief de Nysschen is a strong advocate of Infiniti coming home to Japan. In an interview last year in Hong Kong, de Nysschen said :

“Ironically, we take models that are unique Infiniti platforms, developed for Infiniti, and in Japan, we put a Nissan badge on them.”

De Nysschen may be a newcomer to Nissan, but not to Japan. He managed Audi’s business in Japan, and came here in 1999, at the same time as Ghosn arrived in Tokyo. Ghosn immediately wanted to hire de Nysschen, but had to take a rain-check. De Nysschen knows the market, and that it is not easy.

When a reporter asked de Nysschen in Tochigi about Infiniti’s homecoming plans, the questioner found himself instantly castigated:

“So, that means that if you ask Mr. Ghosn a question and he doesn’t answer, you are making another attempt to get an answer out of me?”

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Nevertheless, there was an answer, delivered wrapped into de Nysschen’s trademark carefully carved sentences:

To be a global brand, you might well want to compete in the premium sector in your domestic market.

We spend a lot of time talking about Infiniti brand values, and how those are to be communicated, not only in the tone and manner of our marketing and our advertising communication, but also, they need to be expressed and conveyed through the product, through design, through technology, through the engineering.

It seems to me to be very difficult for all the men and women who work on expressing these values in the Infiniti product to then not also see the vehicle and the brand being available in the domestic market.

Also, in term s of the international flavor for the brand, our customers are internationally mobile. And one important cornerstone of premium brands is that wherever you encounter them, they are positioned consistently, they portray the same values and qualities, whether you meet them in New York, or in London, or in Beijing, or indeed in Tokyo.”

After having made a strong philosophical case for estranged Infiniti coming home, de Nysschen sees himself faced with the realities:

“One of the disadvantages of course is cost of entry. It is very expensive to set up a distribution network in Japan. Last time I looked, not too many free open spaces were shouting to come and build an automotive showroom.”

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Again, this is coming from a former Audi manager who had busted a cozy (and largely unknown) distribution agreement between Volkswagen and Toyota, and who had talked Ferdinand Piech into setting up an exclusive network in Japan. Eventually, this led to the end of Volkswagen’s Japanese distribution agreement with Toyota. This case should be a required course in the education of carmakers, especially those who feel entitled to major shares of the Japanese market without really trying. Continued de Nysschen:

It is my commitment that Infiniti will achieve profitable growth, and that we will achieve very quickly a positive contribution to the overall operating profit of Nissan. That means that we have to balance the speed with which we want to enter the Japanese market.”

I take that as a carefully wrapped no.

In regards to luvmyv8’s question and with regards to luvmyv8, de Nysschen said that “on the Skyline, I really have no further comments to add other than those already expressed by Mr. Ghosn. I would urge you to be patient for just a little while.”

As this is a question and answer session, let me try to answer  28-cars-later’s inquiry. He said: “Bertel, how do you get such access to Ghosn… is Nissan just *this* friendly to the press?” Instead of a simple and pat “yes,” let’s make a separate story out of that.

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Inside The Industry: With Carlos Ghosn At The Infiniti Q50 Line-Off http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/inside-the-industry-with-carlos-ghosn-at-the-infiniti-q50-line-off/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/inside-the-industry-with-carlos-ghosn-at-the-infiniti-q50-line-off/#comments Tue, 14 May 2013 17:57:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488493 Yoko Kubota of Reuters had already written half of her story before we boarded a bus this Tokyo morning. It took us north to Nissan’s Tochigi plant, where we were promised to see the new Infiniti Q50 roll off the assembly lines. Kubota wrote that “in the financial year ended March, Infiniti sold 172,615 vehicles […]

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Yoko Kubota of Reuters had already written half of her story before we boarded a bus this Tokyo morning. It took us north to Nissan’s Tochigi plant, where we were promised to see the new Infiniti Q50 roll off the assembly lines. Kubota wrote that “in the financial year ended March, Infiniti sold 172,615 vehicles globally, up 12.1 percent year-on-year,” that the brand needs to grow, that the backbone of Infiniti’s volume has been the G37 Sedan, and that its successor, “with a new name Q50, will go on sale in the United States in the summer.” Today, we see how the Q50 is made.

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Built in 1968, the Tochigi plant in Kaminokawa, a two-hour drive from Tokyo, is the backbone of Infiniti. Finished cars go from there to the port of Hitachi, and most of them go straight to Los Angeles, where, as Kubota-san has written, “nearly 14 years after the launch of its first car, the Q45 luxury sedan, Infiniti continues to be largely a U.S.- centric brand with meager overseas sales.”

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Before we see the plant at work, we see the first real Q50. It rolls on stage with the usual aplomb customary for such a line-off. Plant manager Ryoji Kurosawa is pleased, while CEO Ghosn backslaps a representative of the workforce.

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Photo-op with the boss.

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And the car without people in front.

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Ghosn is here with his personal translator, Yuki Morimoto. When he addresses the workers, he speaks in Japanese.

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The workers like it.

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The workers sit on the shop floor when the boss speaks. This is not a sit-in, and it is not unusual at all in Japan. There is a lot of sitting and kneeling on the floor. Can you imagine what would have happened in a UAW shop?

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You can sit on, and, if necessary, eat off the floor because it is immaculate. The slippers are here for a reason.

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In other plants, one might be forced wearing shoes with steel caps. In Tochigi, you see a sign that forbids the wearing of shoes at all. The shop is as sacrosanct as a Japanese house, where no one would dare to soil the serenity of the home by wearing shoes. It has been that way for thousands of year, and it won’t change. Footwear is removed at the entrance to help keep the house clean.

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This rule applies to all. Even the CEO and his translator would not dare to desecrate the clean shop floor by wearing shoes.

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On to the next part of the plant.

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This is where the front end goes on the car. It is done with a jig. The jig is cleverly hidden by a cart with parts. The cart zooms in front of me whenever I lift the camera.

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Actually, taking pictures is not allowed in this part, and I am nonverbally reminded of that by Infiniti chief Johan de Nysschen. You met him a while ago.

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We see how quality checkers probe the surface of the car for impurities that can’t be seen, but felt with the touch of a thinly gloved hand.

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CEO Ghosn tries his hand as a quality checker while Murimoto-san translates, and while Infiniti-chief Johan de Nysschen looks away.

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Soon, this car will be en-route to America, where it is “scheduled to go on sale in summer,” as Ghosn promises. On the bus, en-route back to Tokyo, Yuko Kubota already had her story on the wire. I wish I’d be half as fast.

In case you wish more driving impressions  and less arm waving, I refer you to a test drive presented by someone who is far more attractive than yours truly.

IMG_3454 IMG_3568 IMG_3891 IMG_4696 IMG_4242 IMG_4760 IMG_4001 IMG_3854 IMG_3858 IMG_3822 IMG_3383 IMG_3967 IMG_3462 IMG_3528 IMG_3512 IMG_3412 IMG_3550

 

 

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TTAC Will Show You The First Infiniti Q50 You Can Actually Buy, If You Can Wait A Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/ttac-will-show-youre-the-first-infiniti-q50-you-can-actually-buy-if-you-can-wait-a-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/ttac-will-show-youre-the-first-infiniti-q50-you-can-actually-buy-if-you-can-wait-a-day/#comments Mon, 13 May 2013 12:09:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=488278 Infiniti’s Q50 will come “this summer” says  the new York Daily News, which nonetheless already “reviewed”  it, coming to the conclusion that “the all new Infiniti Q50 will be base priced at just $36,450, and the expected to be most popular trim level, the “Premium,” featuring an optional, navigation system is expected to come in […]

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Infiniti’s Q50 will come “this summer” says  the new York Daily News, which nonetheless already “reviewed”  it, coming to the conclusion that “the all new Infiniti Q50 will be base priced at just $36,450, and the expected to be most popular trim level, the “Premium,” featuring an optional, navigation system is expected to come in at $40,700.”

Alleged Motor Authority meanwhile breathlessly reports that, OMG,  the “2014 Infiniti Q50 [was] Leaked By Canadian Retail Site.” Never mind that the Q50 was already revealed at NAIAS, and then again in Shanghai, as the self-made picture above proves.

Be it as it may, TTAC will trek tomorrow at o-dark-thirty  to Kaminokawa-machi, somewhere deep in the Japanese boonies, to watch the first real Q50  roll off the line at Nissan’s Tochigi plant. Look for the pictures. There probably will be a little more arm waving also.

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Avoidable Contact: Infinity Jest. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/avoidable-contact-infinity-jest/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/avoidable-contact-infinity-jest/#comments Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=474521 I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior […]

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I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior lights. To open the throttle on the Bose-by-Nissan stereo. To feel the perfect response from the small sedan’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, to catch a slide as the four-wheel-steering kicks in at the most bizarre time during an irresponsible freeway maneuver. To pose Yakuza-style in the baddest sedan on the block, B-pillars swimming barely seen beneath the glass. To feel the 276-horsepower, quad-cam V-8 punch you back into the impeccably tasteful interior.

Then, and only then, if you can dream with me, if you can believe what I believe, then you might be able to look through the stupid Q-names and the dumb-assed rocks-and-trees marketing and the aftermarket Skyline badges and the unfocused-looking Pathfinder rebadge and the Jersey shore types crowding each owner’s meet and just hold this idea in your head:

Infiniti didn’t always suck.

Because it is part of my job to know, I will eventually put away my disgust long enough to internalize the ridiculous new naming convention employed by the not-really-autonomous luxury arm of Nissan. What I know offhand is this: the G37 successor will be called the Q50. This arrant stupidity is roughly equivalent to Rolls-Royce introducing a new small car and calling it the Phantom Eight. Or calling the new Acura ILX the Legend Plus Five. Or calling the swoopy 2014 Lexus IS the Lexus LS510hL. I could go on, and I encourage you to do so when you are wasting time with your work buddies at lunch (“Hey! I’ve got one! The new Mercedes CLA coulda been the S650!”) but you get the idea. The just-unveiled Infiniti Q-ship system has the previously unknown-to-science ability to make the utter marketing dolts at Lincoln and Cadillac look like geniuses just for not calling the MKZ and ATS the Continental Mark XIV and Fleetwood Talisman Brougham Eldorado, respectively.

The G37 becomes the Q50. The G37 coupe becomes the Q60, and why shouldn’t it? The M37 and M56 both become the Q80, which sounds like a plastic-bodied camera they sell people in the “pro-sumer” department of Best Buy. Meanwhile, the trucks all take a nomenclature cue from the QX56, a vehicle so unspeakably crass it depresses the space-time curve around it for kilometers and causes cordovan Alden penny loafers to spontaneously evolve into Chinese-sewn Kenneth Cole white-trash square-toe monstrosities as all notions of human decency are shattered beyond hope or recognition in its lumbering, cetacean wake.

In other words, they’ve named the trucks after the worst product they’ve ever made, and named the cars after a product they haven’t made since… don’t you say 2005. Don’t you dare fucking say two thousand and five. I’m watching you. Don’t open your mouth. I’m serious. According to my son, I am big and tough. He’s only three years old, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s wrong. Be careful.

The Infiniti Q45, in its majesty and glory, died in 1996. Dead. Dead as Caesar. Except, of course, in Japan, where it lived a happy and fruitful life until after the whole Y2K thing had settled down and the Japanese people no longer needed the shining light of excellence the Q45 undoubtedly provided in those dark, fearful times.

Oh, that original Q45. It appeared seemingly out of nowhere, heralded not by John the Baptist but by a series of bizarre and deliberately opaque advertisements where the car wasn’t shown at all. Arty. Interesting. Classy. Meanwhile, Lexus was carpet-bombing the media with endless images of its S-Class-by-Nikon, each and every one of them with the humiliating italicized “$35,000″ featured front and center. The Lexus LS400! It’s a CHEAP JAPANESE S-CLASS RIPOFF! DID YOU GET THAT MEMO! CHEAP! JAPANESE! S-CLASS! CHEAP! Ugh, it was slimy, and they had the nerve to have a fake British accent in the TV ads, too. It was beneath contempt.

The LS400, too, was beneath contempt. In retrospect, we know it to have been a fabulous feat of loss-leader engineering, but at the time it looked like the equivalent of JC Penney’s “Hunt Club” polo shirts. Yeah, it was cheap, yeah it probably lasted longer, but who’d be seen in such an obvious copy? $35,000! CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP FAKE BRITISH ACCENT!

Enter the Q45. We, the cognoscenti, nodded approvingly. The LS400 had a fake Mercedes grille? The Q45 had no grille. The LS400 had a fake Mercedes interior by way of a Corolla? The Q45 had center-seam seats, a dashboard sweep that predicted the current Audi mode fifteen years in advance and not a bit of wood, fake or otherwise, to be seen. The LS400 had a nifty four-liter, 250-hp V-8 that made it as fast as the BMW 735? The Q45 had a bigger, stronger, more majestic V-8 that bitch-slapped the Germans back to the drawing board, where they would eventually make Nikasil V-8s and embitter an entire generation of victims, er, owners, but that’s another story.

Everything about the LS400 was fake. Everything about the Q45 was real. Plus it was bitchin’ fast. Also available at the dealership was an authentic Nissan Leopard JDM coo-pay, pressed into service as the M30. It was slick and futuristic and it sure as hell wasn’t a Camry. Since nobody had a functioning crystal ball at the time, this wasn’t seen as the source of the brand’s descent into sales-report hell and perennial second-tier status. It was considered to be a source of pride.

Just to pound the point home — just to put the final nails into the coffin of that stupid experiment in middle-class buffoonery over at Toyopets Ltd — the G20 arrived shortly after and OMG IT WAS A PRIMERA AND STUFF. Tasteful to a fault. Handling to die for. Not a centimeter larger than it needed to be. Infiniti. By. A. Knock. Out!

Your humble author, having been forced to pull the eject handle on a rather promising postgraduate collegiate career by a combination of bad temper, worse judgment, and incandescent youthful arrogance, arrived for My First Real Job with Infiniti of Columbus in the spring of 1994. The M30 had bowed out and been replaced by the J30, which was the combination of a Jaguar and a 300ZX and in many ways was the most satisfying sedan money could buy. The Q45 had been lightly refreshed with a grille and some wood but just when you thought the soul was gone, they hit back with the (partially) active-suspension Q45a, a genuine Japanese technical masterpiece and still monstrously quick in a straight line. I couldn’t wait to sell them. The whole lineup kicked ass. Heck, my own father had abandoned the Germans to pick up not one, but two J30 sedans.

Six months later, I was out on the street again without a penny in my pocket but with a considerably greater understanding of how the luxury-market battle in the country was actually going. The G20 wasn’t appreciated by customers; they drove the ES300 back-to-back with it and found the four-cylinder G to be slow, noisy, cramped, and Sentra-esque. The J30 was too expensive and only moved as a $399 magic lease.

The Q45 — that gorgeous, machined-billet, time-shifting, four-cam masterpiece — was showroom poison. Nobody wanted one. It cost more than the Lexus LS and, as I would hear time and time again from thirty-four-year-old second wives distractedly evaluating the metal while hanging succubus-like from the leather-tanned arms of their Boomer boys, it “looked weird”. Only six years into Infiniti’s existence, the flagship was forced to lower its flag and retreat back to the homeland.

In its place, my successor salesmen were burdened with… a Nissan Cima. So check this out: In Japan, the Q45 was simply the current generation of the Nissan President. The President, as you might guess from the name, was the best sedan Nissan offered. The Cima was the car beneath it. By replacing the President in the United States with the Cima, Nissan pulled…

well, you know what they pulled…

That’s right. The 1997 Infiniti Q45: Nissan’s Bonneville Model G. Hell, it even looked like one. Actually, it was worse than that, because while the “Model G” legitimately rode on the GM G-platform, the new “Q45″ had a 4.1-liter engine. The Cima-Q45 was derided as a “Japanese Buick” by the color rags. I don’t even want to talk about it any more. The Q45 was “rebooted” as a super-Cima with an actual 4.5-liter engine in 2002, but the market had long since stopped caring about the idea of a full-size Infiniti and when it disappeared nobody realized it was gone, no doubt because unsold ones were still cluttering dealer lots.

That’s not quite the entire story of the Infiniti “Q”. There was a rebadged Nissan Pathfinder, called “QX4″. It was typical Nissan monkey-see business: when Lexus rebranded their well-respected Land Cruiser as the “LX”, Nissan felt compelled to trot out the miserable unibody Pathy to “compete”. I wish I could make the quotes around “compete” bigger back there. Just imagine I’m wiggling my fingers at you when you read it again. “Compete”. The QX4 was such a non-success the “QX” badge was then slapped on a horrifying variant of the despicable Titan Pathfinder Armada Brake-Chewer Deathsled, (note: not actual vehicle name, but more of a nickname, really) said vehicle being recently deposed by the current QX56, soon to be QX6000SUX or something like that, which combines the depressing aspect of Dickens books with the side aspect of Moby Dick.

Infiniti has had precisely one successful product of any note since the mid-Nineties: the G35 sedan and its successors. They are increasingly Baroque-looking 3-Series competitors which, in the right configuration, can be pleasant to drive. To its credit, Infiniti offers a six-speed manual, rear-wheel-drive, sport-suspended G37 sedan and coupe. I’d tell you to check them out, but the dealers prefer to stock AWD automatics, so just forget about it.

Still, the G37 has some genuine brand cachet. Unfortunately, to a lot of people the G37 is a car driven by people who can’t afford a BMW and who also use a lot of hair gel. So that’s bad. Still, it cannot be denied that the Infiniti G-something is a well-known item with an established fanbase and name recognition even among people who don’t like or understand cars.

No longer. The G37 is now the Q50. The inoffensive and somewhat popular EX and FX are going be tarred with the QX brush. This time, we don’t need a crystal ball to know what will happen. Sales will slump. A buying public which still spells the brand name “Infinity” after twenty-three years in the market won’t bother to learn the Q-uestionable new designations. Resale value will approach nil as used-market buyers try to understand why a Q80 costs so much more than a Q60. The long-suffering dealers, who went though a lot of trouble buying shoji screens in 1990 so they could do whatever was supposed to be done with the shoji screen besides conceal young salespeople taking a nap on the expensive mandatory leather showroom couches, will suffer some more.

A new plan will debut in… oh, let’s be generous and give it four years. In the meantime, plenty of people will offer opinions as to what should be done, what should have been done, and so on. I’d like to offer some hugely nostalgic and product-centric plan for Infiniti, the way I did for Lincoln a month or so ago. Build an all-new Q45, deserving of the name, and as far ahead of the Germans now as the original one was in 1990! A snub-nosed supersedan with an all-conquering powertrain and a timber-free interior! Just build the great car and watch the greatness return!

In this case, I won’t even bother. You see, people used to care about Lincoln. To some degree, they still do. But nobody ever cared about Infiniti. The G37 would be more popular with a Nissan Skyline badge. The rest of the stuff would be more popular in a landfill. This is what you do. Close the dealers, repurpose the factories, give it up. You’ll never beat Lexus at the game of being Lexus, and you’ll never beat BMW at the game of copiously defecating all over BMW’s legacy while simultaneously blowing 100,000-plus lease-deal angel-eye crapwagons out the door. Admit defeat and walk away.

Before you turn out the lights, however, I want a few minutes alone with an original 1990 Q45. Triple black, if you can manage it. If you have one in the archives. I want to open the door with that gorgeous big chrome pull-handle that looked so perfect but froze solid in the winters. I want to sit in the tailored interior that didn’t have wood or a Nakamichi logo screen-printed in tacky-ass gold letters on the console. I want to hear the big V-8 roar. I want a few minutes to show my respect to the product. We always say “May the best man win,” and when we say that, we acknowledge that plenty of times, the best man doesn’t win, he falls, he fails, he fades from history.

Good-bye, Infiniti Q45. You didn’t suck.

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NAIAS 2013: Infiniti Reveals New Q50 – Same V6 As G37, Now With Optional Battery Power http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/naias-2013-infiniti-reveals-new-q50-same-v6-as-g37-now-with-optional-battery-power/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/naias-2013-infiniti-reveals-new-q50-same-v6-as-g37-now-with-optional-battery-power/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 15:12:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473678 Fresh off a PR campaign to rename every new vehicle in their line-up, Infiniti has shown their new model with the updated Q-numeric model designation: the 2014 Infiniti Q50. On the surface, the new Infiniti Q50 now shares some more DNA from its brothers and sisters, grabbing the corporate design language and putting it to good […]

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Fresh off a PR campaign to rename every new vehicle in their line-up, Infiniti has shown their new model with the updated Q-numeric model designation: the 2014 Infiniti Q50.

On the surface, the new Infiniti Q50 now shares some more DNA from its brothers and sisters, grabbing the corporate design language and putting it to good use. The front-end lower valance is somewhat similar to new Lexus models, but that isn’t really a bad thing.

Power will again come from the Nissan-Renault 3.7L V6, generating 328hp, that sees ubiquitous use through all of the company’s vehicles. A manual transmission will no longer be an option, with the model offered solely with a 7-speed slushbox powering the rear wheels.

The big news: the Q50 will be available with the same hybrid system currently available in the M35h, good for 354hp, driving either the rear wheels or all four corners. This system relies on the older 3.5L V6 (still used in the Infiniti JX35).

Inside, the gadgetry has received a serious upgrade. Gone is the keyboard-like buttons below the single screen infotainment system. Instead, two screens sitting one atop the other provide the mission control interface for the majority of the tech functions.

Price? Not available. But, if I were a betting man, I’d hunt down the current G37’s MSRP and add 5-7%.

Infiniti-Q50-driving Infiniti-Q50-driving-02 Infiniti-Q50-front-grille Infiniti-Q50-lines Infiniti-Q50-Sedan-interior Infiniti-Q50-Sedan-interior-screens Infiniti-Q50-Sedan-red Infiniti-Q50-wet Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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