We know it will have a new name. Now we know it will have headlights.
The rear-wheel-drive Q50 will replace the G37 sedan when it goes on sale next year as a 2014 model. It will count as competitors BMW's 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz's C-Class, and Audi's A4. The Q50 will also go head-to-head with another model making its world debut at the Detroit show, the Lexus IS.
Details on the Q50 haven't been released, but a V-6 and seven-speed automatic transmission are likely. Don't be surprised if a smaller four-cylinder engine, possibly using forced induction (supercharging or turbocharging), also finds its way into the sedan's engine bay as an entry-level alternative.
Meanwhile, the Q50 reflects Infiniti's recently announced revised naming strategy. Starting with this vehicle, all sedans and coupes will be labeled Q, while SUVs and crossovers will have a QX designation. Numbers 10-90 will signify the models' position on the hierarchy, and coupe and convertible versions will be differentiated from the sedans they're based on.
Thus, Infiniti's coupe and convertible version of the Q50 will be called the Q60. This is similar to how BMW delineates its 5-Series sedans and 6-Series coupes, while Audi's A5 serves as the coupe and convertible counterpart to the A4 sedan.
The new nomenclature also allows Infiniti to move away from a car's engine displacement being reflected in its badge. European makes including BMW and Mercedes have long used an engine's displacement as the basis for that model's name; a BMW 328i once had a 2.8-liter engine in it.
But as forced induction has reduced the size of engines, the badge on the outside of the car no longer reflects what's under the hood. To wit: BMW's 2012 328i now has a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and Mercedes' E63 now has a 5.5-liter engine. Automakers have been reluctant to switch back to accurate badging for fear that customers would think they're getting a lesser model.
By switching to displacement-agnostic labels, Infiniti avoids this pitfall. The Q50 will be labeled as such, regardless of how large its engine is or whether that size changes over time. This will also become increasingly relevant in the near future as mid-level and high-end hybrid models are introduced with small gas engines.
The Q50 is just one of several high-profile world debuts at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. Others include the 2014 Corvette, BMW 4-Series, Cadillac ELR, aforementioned Lexus IS, Lincoln MKC, Chevy and GMC trucks, Acura MDX concept, a small Honda SUV, and others. Check back with Highway 1 for live coverage of the event from the ground in Detroit.
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