TOKYO -- Infiniti aims to burnish its high-tech cred at the Geneva auto show with its latest autonomous driving and steer-by-wire systems and a sporty hybrid system derived from Formula One.
Infiniti will showcase the technologies in two cars.
One will be a mid-cycle update of the Q50 sedan, the brand’s best seller. The other, the sporty hybrid, is dubbed Project Black S and is based on the Q60 coupe, Infiniti President Roland Krueger said.
The Q50 will get the brand’s second-generation steer-by-wire system and be the first Infiniti to package all of the company’s self-driving features under a new ProPilot Assist banner. ProPilot is the name Infiniti parent company Nissan Motor Co. gives to the group’s line of autonomous driving features.
“Most importantly, we worked on the technology of the car,” Krueger said Thursday in a telephone interview from Infiniti headquarters in Hong Kong.
“This is very important for us because the Q50 is our best seller worldwide.”
The Q50 update goes on sale this year for the 2018 model year. It’s ProPilot system will bundle the car’s existing autonomous functions, including active lane keeping, backup collision prevention, intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking, lane departure prevention and blind spot intervention.
ProPilot made its global debut last year in the Japan-market Nissan Serena family van and is part of a ramp up to fully autonomous driving by 2020.
The Serena ProPilot system differs by enabling automatic stop-and-go driving in heavy traffic and automated steering in low-speed driving.
Infiniti’s ProPilot system will adopt those more advanced functions in 2018, in a nameplate other than the Q50, Krueger said. Infiniti’s vision for self-driving cars is improved safety with still-engaged drivers.
“It’s more copilot,” he said. “We don’t take the driver out of the equation.”
Steering and styling
Infiniti was one of the first automakers to market steer-by-wire technology when it deployed the concept in the Q50 in 2013. The technology breaks the mechanical connection between the driver’s hands and the front wheels, enabling more precise control and more comfortable feedback.
The updated version offers smoother and more direct feeling, Infiniti says. It also carries updates that are better geared toward future autonomous driving systems by enabling more instantaneous steering reaction.
“This car needs to have a very direct response,” Krueger said. “We have worked on this and significantly updated exactly that kind of driving experience, where you have a much more direct connection to the road.”
The 2018 Q50 is also undergoing a styling makeover, front and rear.
Deeper detailing and a new character line accentuate the grille, while the headlamps get Infiniti’s latest “human-eye” treatment.
The rear combination lamps have been slimmed down for a sleeker look.
Sport packages get more angular bumpers and wider, lower intakes.