Avoiding An Identity Crisis... For Now Infiniti is a brand that has been quietly undergoing major upheaval – and not just with the numbers and letters on its trunklids. Back in December, Nissan's premium brand rankled fans and pundits by announcing it would redo its alphanumeric nomenclature, yet that decision was but a PR speedbump – there are bigger fish to fry. After all, this is a marque that was on the chopping block just a couple of years ago, and now it has a major opportunity to succeed thanks to new investment, new independence (Infiniti is now responsible for its own design, engineering, marketing, quality and human resources), a new global headquarters in Hong Kong, and new marching orders from new leadership that calls for a revitalized and expanded portfolio. Yet if you think that the Q-based naming convention is the first sign of the brand's new direction, you might have missed Infiniti's biggest signal flare: the 2013 JX crossover. Fine premium three-row crossover that it may be, it's still the first Infiniti in ages that operates without a scintilla of driving entertainment at the core of its genetic makeup. (The last – and perhaps only – previous example was also Pathfinder-based, the 1997 QX4). To be fair, three-row CUVs have a laundry list of priorities before driving enjoyment figures in, but the message the JX (henceforth known as the QX60) sends is clear: Infiniti is going after more segments and more customers. Plans are afoot to expand the company's product line by a whopping 60 percent over the next five years, and in short, that means Infiniti is no longer content to be the unsung Japanese BMW – it needs vehicles that satisfy a wider swath of consumers. Despite all this, Infiniti officials we spoke with were keen to assert that driving pleasure remains very much core to their mission, and to that of this 2014 Q50 in particular. And surely the Q50 is something different and altogether more palatable to enthusiasts, right? After all, it replaces the bedrock G37 sport sedan at the heart of the lineup (well, sort of), and the latter was always regarded as a good handler and a dynamic drive, even if its overall refinement left something to be desired as it aged. Yet some of the Q50's new technology, in particular drive-by-wire steering (a world's first production application) and a new degree of autonomous capability, had us curious to see if the most important part of the experience is still down to the soft-headed bit belted in front of the steering wheel. We spent a day driving both standard and hybrid Q50s in New England and a few more on our metro Detroit home turf to find out if there's still a healthy percentage of "sport" in this sedan. The new car looks fantastic, sinewy and muscular in a way that its predecessor never managed. If there's any waffling going on about dynamic priorities in this Q50, it isn't evident in its …
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|MPG||29 City / 36 Hwy|
|Transmission||7-spd auto w/OD|
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