The move is part of Nissan’s overall strategy to launch up to 15 new hybrid models by 2016, on top of its commitment to bringing more plug-in hybrids and electric cars to the market.
Yes, it certainly is an interesting time for green car fans.
The Q50 is the first Infiniti to be launched under the automaker’s new naming strategy, where each of its vehicle names start with either the prefix Q or QX, the latter denoting crossover and SUV bodystyles.
Infiniti hasn’t given a direct answer for why it’s changing the names of its lineup, though the automaker has hinted at more models in the pipeline, so the new naming strategy helps avoid the potential alphabet soup of names all the models would have created.
As for the Q50, it debuts this summer with the choice of a V-6 engine or a hybrid setup consisting of a 3.5-liter V-6 matched to an electric motor. More powertrain options, including a possible diesel unit, will be added later.
The hybrid Q50--Infiniti does offer it a unique name--features the same powertrain found in the M35h, where the electric motor is built into the car’s seven-speed automatic transmission and powered by an array of lithium-ion batteries. Two electronically-controlled clutches allow the full decoupling of the V-6 when the car is in electric drive and power regeneration modes, helping to reduce mechanical drag and boost the efficiency of the electric motor.
Peak output of the hybrid Q50 is the same as that of the M35h, registering at a combined 354 horsepower (296-hp V-6 plus a 67-hp electric motor), which should make this one of the quickest accelerating hybrids on the market.
No specs have been announced but with a smaller--and presumably lighter--body than the M35h, look for better performance in the Q50. The M35h does the 0-60 mph sprint in around 5.5 seconds and is capable of returning 27/32 mpg city/highway 29 mpg combined.
Inside the vehicle is a driver-focused cabin with plenty of luxury appointments as well as Infiniti’s new InTouch connectivity system. This latter feature relies on two touch-screen displays as its interface, one upper and one lower. Content and functions directed to the upper screen includes the most frequently used applications, such as navigation maps, which the rest goes to the lower display screen.
The two screens work together so that, for example, the navigation map can be viewed on the top screen while setting destinations or finding points-of-interest can be done on the lower screen. The system will also allow owners to download, update and synch personal apps through their smartphones or using the USB drives.
Key competitors for the hybrid version of the 2014 Infiniti Q50 include the BMW ActiveHybrid 3, Lexus ES 300h and Buick Regal eAssist.
For more from the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, be sure to check out our dedicated show hub.