Is this the car that will convert the Middle East to hybrids?

July 28, 2014
The boys at Infiniti Middle East believe the way to get the local population into hybrid cars is to not package it as a quirky offshoot or an entry-level alternative, but to make it the flagship model instead. The new Infiniti Q50 went on sale in the region earlier this summer, and it has some truly innovative new features. Aside from the petrol-electric combination working away under the hood in the range-topping Q50S, the new model, which takes on the likes of the BMW 3-Series and Lexus IS, debuts something that will not be to everyone’s liking. All-electric, fly-by-wire steering is now a reality and with the Q50, the only thing connected between the steering wheel and the front axle is a bunch of zeroes and ones flying wirelessly between microprocessors. While fly-by-wire’s been standard issue on aircraft for eons and we’re all okay with jumping on a plane, the thought of not being physically connected to the wheels made me a little apprehensive when we first climbed aboard. IMG_6816 The safety net is that there is still a steering column but it’s not connected and only cuts in via a viscous clutch if the electronic system fails. So it’s not a weight-saving initiative but is designed to give the driver more feedback while at the same time remove any vibrations that would normally be transferred from the road to the driver’s hands. In tight spaces, the steering was feather light but when pushed on at pace through corners, it was possibly the heaviest steering we’ve felt in a modern car, giving great feel and control when kicking along. It also eliminates small pot holes and ruts in the road allowing you to stay focused on the job at hand. The new technology also lets the car take care of a few other things like lane departure with a new mechanism called Trace Control. Using forward-facing cameras that read the white lines in the road ahead, it can tell if you’re straying and if you move to cross the lines without indicating it will gently steer the car back in line. [gallery link="none" ids="6363,6364"] To be honest, on our drive route through Dubai, which included many areas of roadwork with painted over lines and temporary lanes, it wasn’t 100 per cent accurate so it’s something that we would never rely on but may have potential down the track as a version 2 or 3 update. The base models come with a 3.7-litre, V6 engine giving 326bhp, gets to 100kmh in 5.5 seconds and maxes out at 250kmh, whereas the hybrid gives it an extra 24bhp and shaves two tenths of a second off the benchmark sprint time. Prices start at AED 165,000, which firmly tips the buying equation in the Infiniti’s favour compared to most of its rivals, and peaks at AED 210,000 for the range-topper. Details: visit