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Infiniti offers Steer By Wire

Infiniti offers Steer By Wire

Nissan’s luxury brand Infiniti are the first to offer the very latest steer-by-wire technology on their forthcoming Q50. No less a driver than Sebastian ‘The Finger’ Vettel – who is the company’s performance director – has been heavily involved in developing this car in which the steering wheel talks to a computer which in turn talks to the wheels. Instantaneously, we hope.

Apparently this new technology fitted to Infiniti’s all-new car has been inspired by the latest jet aircraft technology. No, we don’t know either – cars go along the ground, planes go in the air. That’s all we’ve got.

The Q50 is set to take on the might of the Audi A4 / BMW 3 Series in the premium mid-sized market. Designed, according to Infiniti, to ‘appeal to both the heart and the head’ the car marries the brand’s flowing design themes with technology and traditional craftsmanship. It will come in two or four-wheel drive with a choice of two high performance, low emission engines – a 170PS diesel and a 360PS petrol hybrid. It will apparently be competitively priced in this sector from around £28,000. On sale later this year.

But back to the future. Direct Adaptive Steering is to be standard on certain models and will allow the driver to choose how the wheel feels in their hand. Round would be our first choice but presumably they mean road feel. This used to be something we took for granted but with the introduction of electric steering and the like, some of that ‘feel’ has been lost. Witness the grumbling about the latest 911, for example.

The computer software allows the driver to adjust the steering so that it is smooth and easy – ideal for parking for example – or as sharp and responsive as a F1 car and it is all adjusted via the touch screen. Preferred settings can be memorised. The idea is that by eliminating mechanical losses the steering response will be faster and vibrations will be non-existent. All this is achieved with a level of feedback from the road that is central to every Infiniti’s performance feel, although we have got to think that this will now be simulated feel.

Potential buyers of this car may baulk at something that somehow smacks of a loss of personal control. It seems though that Infiniti have realised this by ensuring that there are fail-safe systems just in case and, if all else does fail, the steering column will remain as additional reassurance. For now!

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- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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