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Cooley On Cars
2015 Infiniti Q50S Hybrid: Standout tech in a sea of Q cars (CNET On Cars, Ep. 41)Brian Cooley checks the tech on the new Infiniti Q50S Hybrid, explains the latest in jump start technology and takes you behind the scenes of the visual technology used to create crash test videos.
So that's it. Now, how do we want to do our B roll? At Infiniti, everything's now called a Q, but this one stands out, and It's just an amazingly nimble biggish car. Surprisingly small, new ideas in jump start. And the top five new auto safety inventions. Time to check the tech. [NOISE] We see cars differently. Nice. We love them on the road, and under the hood, but also check the tech. And are known for telling it like it is. Ugly is included at no extra cost. [MUSIC] The good, the bad, the bottom line. This is CNET on Cars. Welcome to CNET on Cars, the show all about high-tech cars and modern driving. I'm Brian Cooley. You know, Infiniti is doing their damnedest these days to confuse everybody. Taking cars that were memorably named the G27 or the M35 and now calling everything some kind of a Q. But it turns out among all those Q's, one is particularly memorable. The Q50S hybrid. Let's drive it, and check the tech. [MUSIC] The Infiniti GE basically made brand. A sporty sedan and coupe duo that struck a very loud chord with buyers from '01 to 2013, and here's what's next. Let's drive the all new, all tech Q50, in it's hybrid S sport form. Now it's easy to spot one of these guys. It's another daring leap for Infinity. And if you've seen their oh rouge show car on the circuit lately, it's kinda faithful to that overall look and it lacks some of that pudginess that a few of it's more recent siblings have. Now what makes this an S? First of all, you've got bigger disk rotors all around and bigger calibers clamping on them. Bigger wheels, 19s instead of 17s. Little different face makes it about an inch longer than a non-Nascar. And inside you've for sports seats and magnesium shifter paddles. In front of you kind of a standard gauge layout, tax, speedo, fuel. Only giveaway that you're in a hybrid is that little swing gauge down there that tells you if you're recharging on the left or tapping electric power on the right. Star of the show is right here in the center console, not one but two screens. Both are touch, both are also driven by an infinity controller knob down here, and both are also accessible by voice. The one down here is the really impressive one, very Ipad like, and not by accident. Just for destination alone look how many choices you've got, there are eight ways to get where you're going. We're not done yet, scroll over and you've got another five. Do I really need 13 ways to find my destination? We've seen a lot of these various things before in the apps panel, but not this before, the App Garage. This is kind of a little miniature app store for this vehicle. Clock and compass, you don't really care about those. Drive performance is interesting. This is going to bring up a set of driving gauges, on three different panels. It'll show you things anywhere from economy, to dynamics. It's kind of a weird hodgepodge. But I must say, it does remind me of what happens in the Nissan GTR, where you've got addressable gauges. A virtual instrument panel, to accompany the one in front of you. On the sillier side, of course, you can pull up Facebook. More useful, you have Google online search in here. All of this is through your tethered phone, by the way, this not one of those cars that has built-in 3G or 4G. Now Infiniti Connection is a series of online services, that are tied in through your phone with an app called the Infiniti InTouch App. It gets you things like pulling in a schedule, connected search, you can search and then nav to something, sent to car from a Google search on another machine, a computer or what have you. The last thing I want to show you in this interface is the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector. Similar to what Audi has had in their Drive Mode Select for a while. So my personal mode can have engine and transmission settings of any of these four. I can setup my steering for heavy, standard or light, quick standard, or casual response. An Active Trace Control, where it uses breaking, inside the curve, to yaw the car around a corner. And all that ties back to a drive mode rocker switch here on the console, which runs you through three modes. You've got sport, and then you can take it down to standard, and also down to eco. Now under audio, just about everything you want is in here, AM and FM with HD, Sirius XM, still have a disc player in here. They haven't jumped on the trend of unloading that. Ipod connectivity as well. Nice clean well used interface, I think, and of course, blue tooth streaming audio. Now above this beautiful in touch controller, is some very impressive turn policy that's been going on. This is kinda your standard Nissan navigation map interface, but notice they've cleaned it up. It's got much tighter dot resolution. They have finessed the look, but it still is jarringly out of place to my eye compared to the instrument panel and the InTouch controller. This is beautiful modern stuff, this is last decade kinda yanked into the present. Like we've seen in some Honda products lately you get an awful lot of duplication. Do it here with one interface, look at that, or you can do it down here with another interface. And they aren't identical, that's not great UI. That's one of the kinds of distraction that car makers often forget about. [MUSIC] Now under the hood, we've got a three and a half liter Nissan V-6, but of course it's hooked up to an electric motor as well. That in this car is not about a lean and green weenie hybrid. This is about a performance hybrid. Horse power is 320 coming in off the gas engine, plus 67 off the electric motor, it nets out though to 360. Torque is 269 foot pounds off the engine, 214 off the electric motor, but you can't exactly sum those. Let's just say it's a lot. 4.9 seconds zero to 60 for rear-wheel drive. 5.2 if you get all wheel drive. And that's for that weighs almost exactly 2 tons. It's not the lightest car out there. 22/34 mpg for this rear-wheel drive configuration. So notice we're not reaching for astronomical fuel efficiency. We drove an Accord plug in recently, that was kind of doing near 50 all the time, but that was aimed at a different kind of driving. The only kind fo transmission you can get is the 7 speed conventional sort of automatic. The base car, if you will, is rear wheel drive, which you can also option it to all wheel drive. We recently did a segment on CNet on Cars about electric power steering, but Infiniti is doing something in this Q50 that's kind of unprecedented. Look what's happening here, with their directed app is steering the wheel, becomes kind of a game controller. Telling these electronic units here what they should tell the electric steering rack to do. This is steer by wire folks. The benefit of this is you get lightning fast response from your steering input from the wheel. And, those front wheels can steer at slightly different angles, which is actually a good thing. They can have their own little independent take on what you're telling them to do with your steering input, can lead to some amazing handling improvement. Now, if you're spooked by the fact this is all done electronically, notice that here in the steering column there's a clutch. And if this electronic system fails, that clutch re-engages, and now you have a traditional mechanical steering column back in place so you're back in control of the car. Now we see a lot of cars these days that have lane departure warning and prevention, fairly common stuff. But on this menu in the Infiniti, it's right next to Lane Departure, but it's different. Active Lane Control is like a subtle cousin of Lane Departure. Instead of yanking you back from drifting into the wrong lane, it just keeps you right in your lane nicely centered. It uses cameras to see if the lanes are bending slightly. It can detect and correct for wind drift, or even if the chatter in the bad road surface makes the car drift off of line. It's super elegant and it basically does what you do as you're driving down the road. [MUSIC] What an amazing steering system! This electric steer-by-wire is uncannily sharp and precise. Add to that this active trace control where it will drag the inside brake to kinda awe you in and it's just an amazingly nimble, biggish car. Now on the freeway, that lane control technology is also like magic. The first I've driven that is basically able to exhibit almost human like instincts for noodling down the lane. It's it's so subtle. That's where the magic lies. Lot of great power in this vehicles, but you do have to coast I find. When I first hit the throttle, almost a second before I get that boost of power. That's not good. One last note, there is a look forward forward collision technology in this car that goes a step forward. It's not just predicting collision with the car in front of you. It can, they say, predict and prevent a collision based on the behavior of the car in front, of the car in front of you. The downside is, I don't have have any way to test or demonstrate it, without sending this car back to Infiniti on a flatbed truck. So we'll have to take their word for it, but I believe that's also a first. Okay, you can get into a new Q50 for as little as $37,000. But not this Q50. We've got a hybrid and we've got an S, so we're talking nearly $48,000 base delivered. Here's the weird one, almost fifteen hundred more for navigation. That's right, this car does not come standard with nav or satellite radio. That nav package is how you get both. I'm kinda irked by that. Now the big one is the deluxe technology package, $5,000, but I think it's worth it because that's a huge package of almost all of this driver assistance and handling assistance tech that we were so impressed by. So while it's chunky, I don't think it's a rip-off. All in we're at about $54,200 delivered CNET style, that's rear wheel drive. All wheel drive's gonna add $1,800. What Infiniti has done here is push the envelope in two or three important areas of driving technology. They wrapped it up in a really good looking package and they've decided to take hybrid the performance direction, not so much the efficiency direction. I want to see them simplify and refine that Infinity In-touch interface, too much going on there, and also bring it better in harmony with the main screen. I also think they should improve throttle response, because there's too much goodness under the hood of this car to let bad pedal linearity ruin it. [MUSIC]. You can find our full review on the Q50S Hybrid by the way, over at Cars. CNET.com. Interesting machine. Now, it's not often we get a case of tech envy, at CNET. Let's face it, just about everything cool comes through our door, at some point or another. But I got a little green the other day, looking at some behind-the-scenes information on how they do those IIHS crash test videos. The gear they use and the discipline they use it with are of great interest to the smarter driver. Charging is now complete. Test will commence in four seconds. Three, two, one. Wind away. The cameras used by the IIHS are, of course, specialized to capture motion. Capturing motions means capturing many frames per second. [MUSIC]. Now where your video camera may capture 30 or 60 frames a second, these guys do hundreds to thousands of frames a second. Here are the on board digital cameras we're going to be mounting on the door. Inside the car they used the IDT NX series compact cameras, they also capture for 730 frames a second are four megapixel which is ample because it matters more how many frames they capture more than how huge each one is. It's ruggedized, so it can take the impact of the crash. This one we'll be looking at the driver dummy to see how he interacts with the steering wheel, the airbags and what's happening during the crash. [MUSIC]. I'm draining all the fluids out of the vehicle, so that way we don't make a mess right after the crash. [MUSIC] Mounting a camera like this is key. The technicians install the base as a rigid part of the car's body. I mean, they really install it, and, of course, they can really use a bunch of pastures, because these cars are not going back on the market. Those IDT cameras can take up to 200 G's in a hit. And I'm always amazed at how steady they are even at the moment of impact. [MUSIC]. The cameras outside the car are even more impressive. Phantom Flex Imagers, they're capable of nearly 2,600 frames a second at 1080 resolution. Put another way, they have 32 gigabytes of internal memory and can fill that in 5.1 seconds. For each test, we have a set of predetermined positions for all of our digital imagers. 48.7. We wanna make sure we're getting the exact same shot that we got the last time we ran this test. So we can compare vehicle to vehicle, if we need to, but also make sure that we're consistent with all the footage that we get. Now all of this, of course, is massively lit by a robotic light grid, that ensures even lighting, and virtually no shadows. Because that might obscure any small detail of how the car's components deform. [MUSIC]. After the actual impact, high-resolution stills are also captured. Using, rather surprisingly, a Hasselblad medium format film camera body harnessed to a Phase One digital back. After the test we moved the car to the photo studio where there's a large overhead light box, and a fully programmable light control board, as well as a seemless background, and a turn table that sits on air casts. That allows us to lift the car up, and spin it to any position that we wish. Finally, the center uses a Da Vinci resolve, edit controller and color corrector, to put the footage together and dial in the accuracy of its look. It pays to double-check what the IIHS learns from this interesting process. [MUSIC] Coming up, jump start tech. Yes, there is such a thing. When CNet on cars rolls on. [MUSIC] This is a Porsche Panamera but in a break from H-Car tradition, it's not the most powerful one in the line up. No, this is the Porsche Panamera SE Hybrid. It's not a normal hybrid by any measure. It managed to go from 0 to 62 from resting in five and a half seconds, it'll hit 167 miles an hour, too. Which makes it one of the fastest hybrid cars in the world. You don't normally buy a hybrid to go really quickly. You buy it to be all green, and what not. So its shiny numbers need to be really impressive. And frankly, they're staggering. [MUSIC] Find more from the X Car team of CNET UK, at cnet.com/xcar. Welcome back to CNET on cars, coming to you from our home at the Marine Club House of Cars [UNKNOWN] just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Well you know it's interesting, as amazingly dead on reliable as cars have become in the couple last decades, one thing still happens the way it used to, batteries die and you're stranded. My car is dead. I'm surprised that many people are unsure, or are completely unknowledgable about jump starting their car. There's a quick how to on how to do that, it's really quite easy. And a look at some future technology that's making it a lot easier to have an additional charge ready. [MUSIC]. Okay first off, this is gonna be our dead car over here. This is gonna be our donor car. You gotta pull them close enough within a few feet, so the cables can reach from one to another. Now where are they reaching? Used to be you always had a battery in the front, like on this Subaru, there it is. This BMW put the battery in the back for weight distribution. As a result, they give you remote terminals, one for positive and one for negative here. The battery's not here, but these are representatives of it's hot and cold terminals. Now, let's get going. Now you need some jumper cables. The crew's laughing at me cuz I use these little thin ones. They work all the time so don't buy the macho thing where you gotta have cables that big around. I jump big block Fords with these all the time. Here's how you do it to keep from inadvertently welding your car to the other one. This is very important. Start with one end. Take the red clip and that goes to the red terminal on the donor battery. Take the other red and that goes to the dead car's red terminal. Now go back to your donor car, hook up your black to the black stud on its battery and then on the dead car. Go find a body ground, not the battery ground, this is for safety reasons cause there's a possibility on some cars you're gonna cause some of the hydrogen gas coming off the battery to explode. On many cars like this that have a remote battery you have this remote terminal like I mentioned, now our circuits closed. Notice the ground is what made the circuit energize, not the positives, that's what we close last. Now you're going to go start your donor car. Then, just start the dead car. There you go. Now, if using one of these battery jump boxes, that are kind of handy, it's a very similar process. You start off with it turned off, and you go to the positive with its positive. And then you go negative to close the circuit. Then you turn it on and then go start this car. Disconnecting. Off, negative, positive, out. Now you got the former dead car running. You want to make sure it's running for a while, 15 to 30 minutes of driving would be good. That gives the alternator the ability to give that battery a pretty good charge. Then you're gonna turn it off and see if it starts again. If it doesn't that means you've got a bum battery, a crapped out alternator, or possibly a bad voltage regulator, time to do some repairs. Odds are you're gonna be fine. By the way before you're done, make sure you put the covers back on any of these positive terminals, or battery studs. Because you don't want that stuff shorting out with whatever may be in here. [MUSIC]. Now you may have noticed that jumper box is pretty bulky, it weighs about 18 pounds. So, check out our recent roundup of compact jumper batteries. While they all are pretty tidy, I would recommend getting. One that has a higher number of amps to make sure it can turn over any size engine. You hold the button down and bam, we got a flashlight. This new breed costs between a hundred and two hundred bucks. They can recharge off your car's 12 volt outlet during normal times. And can also be used to charge your mobile devices on the go during those vast majority of days when you don't need a jump start. Plus, they fit in a glove box or a console, which [MUSIC]. My jumper box won't do. [MUSIC]. In a moment, where are the trucks? When CNET On Cars continues. [MUSIC] [FOREIGN]. Buy more from the XCAR team of CNET UK at cnet.com/xcar. [MUSIC] Welcome back to CNET on Cars. I'm Brian Cooley. It's time for some of your emails. This one comes in this week from John E, who writes. You always hear about cars with great tech. But what about trucks? Pickups, in particular, he's asking about. Are they just not out there with technology? Or does CNET just not review them? He mentions he was out shopping for a pickup truck a couple years ago. And the best he could find on the option list was, like, a 90's era AM/FM radio. Well, John, first of all, the trucks are actually no slouch on technology anymore. We've recently reviewed the Chevy Silverado high country, the Dodge Ram Laramie. Great big 3500, and both of these are pretty much keeping up with the tech you find in passenger cars. The car makers, the truck makers have realized it helps to sell trucks as well as cars. On the other hand we don't have that many models of trucks out in the market compared to cars so you'll see a lot fewer of them compared to the vehicles we review. And the last part is a little bit of a mea culpa, to be honest, the CNET car tech team is not a bunch of truck experts. Not in terms of towing, and payload, and off-roading, and things of that nature. Plus, let's face it, we're based in San Francisco, a place where you can get your bicycle keyed for having too big of an environmental footprint. Now, a lot of the technology in cars, or trucks, isn't necessarily invented by the car or truck maker, a lot of it comes from suppliers. So-called tier one suppliers, companies you may not have heard of. But they don't longer just supply knots and bolts and tires to car makers, they supply things like interior, transmissions, and those electronic head units in the center staff. So I thought I would do a top five recent pace award winners. The Pace awards are given by Automotive News and Ernst and Young to suppliers who create great technology at the automakers put in the cars you use. Very prestigious, and I've selected five that are all about personal safety. Top five, personal safety technologies, from unsung companies in the car biz. Number five, Autoliv's pedestrian underhood airbag. Just when you thought they'd put an airbag everywhere inside the car, Sweden's Autoliv puts one outside the car. Because statistics show, that a lot of pedestrian injuries and deaths happen when you're hit by a car and you're head wings down and finds that rigid area at the base of the windshield. This puts an airbag right there to cushion you. Number four, Continental's Pedestrian impact sensor. Now, to detect that pedestrian impact, a rubber tube is laid along the inside of that flexible front bumper. During an impact with a pedestrian, this tube is collapsed a little and that generates a puff of air. Which is read by a couple of simple sensors on each end of the bumper. And in one one hundredth of a second, it can figure out if it's a pedestrian versus a parking lot sign and fire the air bags. Number three, Valeo's camera and sensor module. It used to be that the ultrasonic sensors in your bumper, those things that beep, and the camera in the back of the body, which. Shows you what back there, operated completely without any knowledge of each other, that left the driver having to blend all that info. But France's Valeo has merged them into a single module. So it all works together, and it's a tiny component. That has the added benefit of leaving your bumper without those little sonar dimples in it. Number two, Takata's center front airbag. Okay, just when you thought they really had put an airbag everywhere, including under the hood, Takata worked with GM to slide one in between the front seats. This helps to secure the driver during a far side of the car t-bone impact. Or, to keep the two front passengers from smashing heads and hurting each other. But with this and up to eight more airbags in the front of the car alone, it's time for our number one. Number one is Autoliv's green airbag inflator. Now when all these airbags go off they are typically powered by what's called a sodium azide inflator. It's basically a little rocket propellent in your face. And it's received some nasty headlines lately. The Swedes, being the greenies they are, took note and Autoliv developed a bag inflater that uses mostly hydrogen and oxygen and leaves behind mostly water vapor. If you could get these in a Nissan Leaf that is charged off a windmill [MUSIC] That's pretty green. Hey thanks for watching. Hope you enjoyed the show. Because of some of your feedback, we've got something new coming in our next episode, episode 42. A new segment called road to the future, where we're gonna go get the most cutting edge technology that may not even be in production yet, and show you how it works. Take you in the labs, if you will, that's coming up soon. And don't forget to send me those emails and other ideas you've got about new content for CNET on cars. That's email@example.com. I'll see you next time we check the tech. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] And, away we go.