Over the past few months, I had the feeling that Infiniti has designed some hot wheels under the Q category, so I got very excited when I was asked to test-drive the 2017 Q50 Red Sport 300. At first glance, it seems nothing much has changed from 2016. But on the contrary, the vehicle comes equipped with a host of new technological aids as well as a level of drive mode customization that is unequaled in the market.
The 2017 Q50 Red Sport 300 is equipped with a one-of-a-kind electric-assist power steering system, analogous to the one used in most cars today. It’s pretty difficult, however, to sample all the driver’s assists for a first review, as many depend on responding to the unforeseeable behavior of other drivers – something I thankfully did not encounter.
The forward collision warning, for instance, sets an alert once it detects cars in front of you suddenly slowing down. Equally, if the system spots a pedestrian or other forward impediment, it will apply the brakes immediately to help you evade an accident.
Moreover, on tap in the Q50 Red Sport 300 are distance-control assist and active lane control, both of which I was able to sample during my day’s drive around the curve at the foot of Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest summit. Once the system realizes your vehicle is getting too close to the car in front of you, it will not only apply the brakes, but it will also push back on the accelerator pedal…
If you ever happen to drift out of your lane without signaling and decide to turn down all lane-departure warning alarm bells, the active lane-control feature will gently guide you back to the center of the lane with small steering inputs.
This can keep the car somewhat centered on straight-line roads, although I wouldn’t give up all steering control to the system. If you decide to make a lane change without using your blinker, a steady pressure on the steering wheel will beat the computer, allowing you to make your lane change.
The Q50 Red Sport 300 features the industry’s only steer-by-wire system, which Infiniti calls Direct Adaptive Steering (DSA). There’s no mechanical linkage from the steering wheel to the tires – instead it’s all done electronically. This makes for incredibly fast inputs that can feel downright twitchy at higher speeds.
To help drivers feel more at ease, the steering can be tuned for heft and ratio. Weight and feedback are determined by choosing Standard, Sport or Sport Plus in the steering sub-menu, while ratio is selected by choosing Default, Dynamic or Dynamic Plus.
From the center-stack menu, I could set steering ratio and effort to one of three modes (Standard, Sport, or Sport Plus). Meanwhile, in Sport or Sport Plus, I could also change the steering response, or how the steering reacts just off-center, using one of the three sub-modes (Default, Dynamic, or Dynamic Plus), giving me seven discrete steering-behavior choices.
While switching between diverse driving modes, I came to know that there is a smooth transition from on-center to turning, unlike in dynamic or dynamic-plus (which makes the steering tardy). And in all modes, there is still a disconnect between lateral loading and steering effort, particularly at the limit.
The sturdy engine and much improved steer-by-wire system make the Q50 Red Sport 300 stand apart from its competitors, to say the least. However, I think Infiniti’s interior lacks some lavish inputs, which might help bridge the gap between power and luxury.