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Infiniti has just thrown the covers from its 3-Series rival at the Detroit Auto Show. It’s called the Q50 and is the replacement for the rather drab and fuel-thirsty G37. It’s also the first car to emerge under the leadership of new president (and former Audi chief) Johan de Nysschen.

We don’t know if it’s JdN’s influence, but the curvaceous Q50 is more imposing and angrier than the previous Infiniti, which looked er, a bit melty. In Infiniti design-speak, this car combines a a ‘double arch’ grille with slinky ‘crescent-cut’ C-pillars at the side and ‘quite noisy’ twin pipes at the back (OK, the last bit of design speak was ours, not Infiniti’s).

Inside there’s been a push for plushness. There’s more space than the G37, a revolutionary twin-screen satnav and a new design, we’re told, that draws inspiration from Samurai weapons and trees. No idea.

For now, the only power options available are the two V6 petrol engines for the North American market: a 3.7-litre producing 328hp and a 3.5-litre unit mated to a hybrid system from the M35h. It’s up to you where that power goes, as you can have the Q50 in RWD or AWD flavour, with both using a seven-speed automatic ‘box. When the Q50 hits Europe debut at the Geneva motor show, we should see a selection of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines better suited to those of us living in countries where you have to actually pay for fuel.

Infiniti has also thrown much new tech into the Q50 in a bid to tempt you from your Germanic saloons. Things like Direct Adaptive Steering, which alters the relationship between steering input and tyre angle on the fly, apparently offering more feedback than a conventional mechanical system. There’s also another world first in the shape of Infiniti’s advanced lane departure warning system which, with the help of cameras and cleverness, monitors the road surface and adjusts for ‘lane drift’ to keep you on the straight and narrow. Finally, there’s something called ‘iKeys’, sadly not an interactive version of the former Sky Sports presenter but a system that remembers up to 96 in-car preferences for four different drivers. Memory seats for the future, in other words.

Infiniti also let some bloke called Seb Vettel loose on fine-tuning the Q50’s handling. Does this ‘Vettel’ lad have any idea what he’s on about? We’ll find out when we drive it later this year.

Rowan Horncastle 

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