GARAGE

Mixed feel­ings fol­low our In­finiti out the door

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

It’s the end of the road for our Ford Fo­cus RS LE and In­finiti Q50 Red Sport

Q50 Red Sport isn’t ma­te­rial. That’s the bru­tal, yet truth­ful, sum­ma­tion on DQV 36E af­ter five months in our garage. Sure, it’s a goer. That hulk­ing twin­turbo six pow­er­train en­sured easy sub5.0sec runs to 100km/h and 12.0sec quar­ters at Bang For Your Bucks. This makes it a weapon from traf­fic lights. It will lazily squirt ahead of an A45 or RS3 if nei­ther has pro­grammed launch con­trol when the trees flash up in green. But this be­hav­iour quickly works up a thirst. Our chunk of driv­ing has been com­mut­ing to and from work, with race­track test­ing, high­way driv­ing, and cross-Mel­bourne runs mixed in along the way. This saw it sink 11.8 litres of fuel per 100km on av­er­age, with a peak of 14.75 one month, which is hardly crim­i­nal for a pow­er­ful twin-turbo V6 and bet­ter than what we man­aged in our res­i­dent Ford Fo­cus RS LE. If you’re watch­ing fuel bills, though, don’t think you can help that with care­ful throt­tle in­puts. The car’s Eco mode ac­ti­vates a pedal which pushes back against ex­cess pres­sure, but is an­noy­ing and switched off al­most im­me­di­ately. On the other hand, Sport Plus mode holds engine revs way too

IT’LL LAZILY SQUIRT AHEAD OF AN A45 OR RS3 IF NEI­THER HAS LAUNCH CON­TROL PRO­GRAMMED

long while the seven-speed au­to­matic can shift a bit clunkily. You in­stead set­tle for Stan­dard mode and its poor throt­tle cal­i­bra­tion. Here you con­stantly feather be­tween 10-20 per cent throt­tle as the pow­er­train ei­ther gives you too much thrust, or too lit­tle like it’s de­vel­oped lethargy. We’ll hap­pily ad­mit the Q50 is a de­cent looker in Red Sport form. Even though its Pure White hue sucks the con­trast out of its sculpted sur­faces while other colours bring them to life. But stay away from cor­ners. The brakes don’t last long against the mas­sive ve­loc­i­ties it can reach, as Luffy bravely demon­strated at Win­ton Race­way. The run-flat tyres aren’t ex­actly sport­ing, ei­ther, and that steerby-wire sys­tem is worse news than Y2K for keen driv­ers. Yes, the steer­ing has been easy enough to live with on Mel­bourne’s grid-like streets, but it’s hope­less when any pre­ci­sion is re­quired or feed­back is wanted. Which is all the time on a race­track, curv­ing road, or when you need to park in a tight space. Per­haps more un­set­tling is how much con­trol the dual-mo­tor steer­ing rack hands to the myr­iad safety sys­tems. There’s ev­ery­thing from ac­tive-lane con­trol that silently ad­justs your steer­ing an­gle in the back­ground at speeds over 70km/h, to ac­ti­vat­ing trace con­trol that does the same for brake pres­sure (but re­duces in Sport mode and turns off com­pletely when ESP is dis­abled). The oc­ca­sional tug­ging at the wheel feels like you’re in some­thing con­trolled by Skynet from Ter­mi­na­tor, rather than you. And that’s why this isn’t a MO­TOR car. You can sense the Q50 was cre­ated to pri­ori­tise au­tonomous tech­nol­ogy rather than the needs or wants of the driver. That fear­some engine bolted be­tween its strut tow­ers feels more like an af­ter­thought, fit­ted be­cause some­one could, rather than be­cause they should. We mar­velled at In­finiti’s brav­ery in hand­ing us the keys to a Q50 Red Sport. We didn’t ex­actly fawn over it in our first re­view. Nor did we give its sex­ier cousin, the Q60, much love in a three-way com­par­i­son against chief Euro­pean ri­vals. Frankly, we wouldn’t buy one. A BMW 340i isn’t sparkling with driver con­nec­tion and it costs $10K more, but it feels so much more re­solved and freshly de­signed – it’s hard to be­lieve the cur­rent 3 Se­ries is ac­tu­ally two years older than the Q50. It could ruf­fle a few feath­ers at the lo­cal drags, but this is not a car that would make us look for­ward to a week­end fang. We’d wait to see what comes of the ru­moured Z re­place­ment and the news it will use this ex­act twin­turbo six. If you want a well-priced sedan with crack­ing power and good safety tech, we’d pocket $20K and look at a Kia Stinger GT. It’s a lit­tle big­ger, but it’s just as fast, steers bet­ter, and cham­pi­ons the driver, rather than the com­puter, more than the In­finiti.

BE­LOW The seat­ing po­si­tion is okay, but could use more steer­ing reach and more head­room

ONE We get the think­ing be­hind the dual-screen setup, but the ex­e­cu­tion is poor and un­in­tu­itive

THREE Since we never felt the de­sire to get near a skid­pan in the In­finiti the foot brake be­came sec­ond na­ture

TWO To its credit the In­finiti’s adap­tive cruise con­trol mod­u­lates in­ter­ven­tion rel­a­tively smoothly

FOUR It caught some glances here and there, but the In­finiti is ul­ti­mately un­known to most, and is a bit of sleeper in white

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