Sebastian Vettel and the Infiniti Q50
It was a good experience to share my passion for performance with others, Sebastian Vettel said. 'The speed of the track, the excitement of the participants really made today special and was a great warm-up before I head to Montreal and focus on the race.'
The family sedan crested the straightaway, lifting and then settling, engine roaring, streaming towards corner eight and the esses, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 200 km/h, I was scrambling for purchase in the passenger seat, trying to wedge myself in a little tighter before the braking and g-forces of yet another screaming tire turn-in.
?Do you want any tips on the racing line?? I joked.
The guy driving smiled and said, ?I?ll take any advice I can get.?
He seemed pretty cocky, considering this was his first day driving the twists and turns of Mosport, officially Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, but forever Mosport.
Then again, the guy driving was Sebastian Vettel, four-time Formula One World Champion and, even driving on instincts, he was already mastering a track known to be one of the fastest in the world.
And he was holding a normal conversation while doing it.
?This is fun,? he said. ?Fast corners.?
We drifted through White?s Corner, back on the gas, exhaust echoing off the walls for the grandstand straightaway, leading to the always potentially fatal corner combo ahead, Vettel unfazed, car and driver in perfect synchronization.
And, to be fair, this wasn?t exactly an ordinary family sedan, either.
This was the 2014 Infiniti Q50, successor to the G37, first of a new coming lineup from Infiniti, a luxury sport sedan blending superior levels of performance and refinement, already setting sales records at Infiniti dealers across Canada.
Sebastian Vettel is listed on the company masthead as Director of Performance and while cynics might be tempted to pooh-pooh the move as a simple honorific title to give the Q50 some credence, Vettel is quick to detail his involvement with design teams during the latter stages of engineering refinements.
?I wasn?t happy with the earlier versions of the steering system,? he said. ?And we worked hard to create a more direct and natural feel, along with refinements to braking feel and performance, suspension improvements, even the seating position.
?Helping to develop the Infiniti Q50 was a very different type of driving duty for me but I approached it in more or less the same way as we do it with our Formula One car.?
The results speak for themselves and we had already experienced Q50 capabilities earlier in the day with another special guest presenter – Red Bull ambassador and 13-time Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, as he rode shotgun with us through an autocross course.
?I don?t have to give you any tips,? he lied beautifully as I squealed the car around the course. ?You know how to drive.?
Then he got behind the wheel and proceeded to give a one-lap master class on how to really squeeze the most speed out through the tight kinks and slaloms of an autocross course.
The Q50 was launched last fall and it comes in prices ranging from $37,500 – $49,500.
Customer choices include regular or S trim levels, powered by either a 328 hp 3.7-litre V6 or a 360 hp 3.5-litre V6 combined hybrid powertrain, both meshed with 7-speed electronic automatic transmissions with Adaptive Shift Control (ASC), manual mode and Downshift Rev Matching (DRM), translating engine torque through either rear-wheel drive (RWD) or Intelligent all-wheel drive (AWD) systems.
Tested on the track and the autocross course, the Q50S 3.7 RWD ($47,950) sets the styling and performance parameters for recently announced following products like the Q30 and other vehicles yet to be revealed. The Q50 also features all the refinements and techno-centric extras that Infiniti has become famous for.
And the performance-oriented influences of Vettel and Infiniti?s involvement with the F1 circuit even spurred the creation of the Eau Rouge Concept, also on display at the track, resplendent in red, a Formula One-inspired Q50 with a monstrous GT-R-derived 560 hp motor stuffed into it engine bay, along with a broad slate of accompanying braking and suspension tweaks. Enthusiasts are clamouring for the company to build it as a new halo car for the brand.
?We don?t just want to be as good as the others,? Vettel elaborated. ?We want to raise the bar.?
We?ll keep our fingers crossed for the Eau Rouge but the 2014 Q50 itself is already an indicator of Infiniti?s determination to add a little more spice and spontaneity to the lineup while maintaining the benchmark luxuries and technological levels customers have come to expect.
?It was a good experience to share my passion for performance with others,? Sebastian Vettel said. ?The speed of the track, the excitement of the participants really made today special and was a great warm-up before I head to Montreal and focus on the race.?
Yeah, well Sebastian, it was pretty special for the rest of us as well.
Rob Beintema takes 13-time Formula 1 winner David Coulthard for a spin at the wheel of a 2014 Infiniti Q50S on an autocross course at Canadian Motorsport Park on Wednesday June 4, 2014. Coulthard responds with an expert lap of his own.
Rob Beintema takes on a hot lap with Formula 1 Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of a 2014 Infiniti Q50S at Canadian Motorsport Park on Wednesday June 4, 2014.