2014 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid

2014 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid 2014 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid
Instrumented Test From the October 2013 Issue of Car and Driver TESTED

The first great electrification of America tripped a breaker a century ago when 15,000 miners walked off their jobs in northern Michigan’s Copper Country. The largest labor strike in the history of the republic up to that point marked the beginning of the end of Michigan’s copper empire. Seventy years earlier, Detroit hardware-store owner Julius Eldred sparked a mineral rush by hauling a 3700-pound chunk of pure native copper out of the north woods and selling it to the U.S. government for $5644.93. Known as the Ontonagon Boulder, it has been collecting dust at the Smithsonian ever since.

The great Copper Country Strike of 1913 ended in April 1914 as a labor defeat, but by then, Michigan began to be outpaced by other regions as the copper basket of America, and the industry went into a half-century decline. It’s hard to imagine, as you drive through the small, slightly shopworn burgs remaining today, that the lonely, heavily forested Keweenaw Peninsula that juts off Michigan’s upper peninsula like the cocked hammer of a trapper’s musket was once home to nearly 100,000 people.

In the Infiniti Q50S hybrid, the ghosts of Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and other early pioneers of America’s electrification ride with you. Almost nothing in a Q50 hybrid, save for your own breathing, happens without participation from or oversight by electric motors, solenoids, sensors, and batteries. We asked for an estimate of the amount of copper onboard a Q50, and Infiniti sent us a Ouija board. You can’t really blame them for not knowing. Today’s car companies assemble bits mostly from suppliers, who assemble bits from other suppliers.

Perhaps it was the ghost of the original Infiniti G35, the first seriously frisky sports sedan out of Japan to challenge German hegemony in the segment, that spoke to us via the Ouija, saying the Q50’s copper content is too high. The G35 and the G37 it evolved into lacked only a tick or two of refinement versus comparable BMW 3-series models, while offering favorable pricing and more interior space.

As comfortable, capable, and confidently styled as this new Q50S is, ours, optioned to the hilt with electronic elves, kept us at a robotic arm’s length, never really pulling us into the fun as it pulsed and lurched and shivered to its own internal programming. The computers have moved in and taken over. Are you a driver or a passenger? In the Q50 hybrid, you’re both.

Now that Infiniti has scrambled its model designations, converting a dull but familiar roster of part numbers into a new and thus confusing roster of part numbers, the Q50 succeeds the G35 and G37. Except that the newly created and christened Infiniti Motor Company Limited still produces the said G37 as an automatic-only, reduced-content stripper, at least through the end of this year and possibly beyond. Why? Its dealers need a placekeeper in the important circa-$35,000/sub-$300-lease-payment arena while they await a smaller sedan, not due for another two years.

The Q50 starts at $37,605 for a base rear-drive model and, as does its competitors, heads past $40,000 fast. The Q50 hybrid begins at $44,855 and hits $50,000 quicker than its 13.8-second quarter-mile run. The Q50S you see here carting its copper around Copper Harbor packs a $5000 whopper of a “Deluxe Technology package,” which helped boost its bottom line to $53,655. And this one doesn’t even have four-wheel drive, available on all Q50s for $1800.

The tech package offers a tongue-tiring list of electronic systems, most intended to studiously keep you out of danger, including: Moving Object Detection, Distance Control Assist, Blind-Spot Intervention, Backup Collision Intervention, Forward Collision Warning, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, and Lane Departure Prevention with Active Lane Control. If you predict that you will need a warning of every approaching threat to feel secure, this is your must-have package.