The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport is an amazing car, a speedster with a 400-horsepower engine. It's one of my favorite car tests of the year, but what impressed me is the technology that kept it centered on the road, even during a drive in the country with heavy wind.
With a quick click on a button, the Q50 went into a semi-autonomous mode. It can keep you centered in your lane on a highway at normal speeds, adjusting the electronic steering automatically. If feels a bit like riding on a magic carpet. If there's a car in front of you, the Q50 will also adjust your speed. You have to keep your hand on the wheel, but you can sense the car is adjusting for the lane-markings and helping keep you safe.
It's a deterrence against distracted driving, mostly because none of us keep perfect attention to lane markings at all times. We sometimes glance over to a friend in the passenger seat or look up at a cloud formation. It's what makes us human and not perfect.
The sensors look for the lane markings, but there was another interesting finding during my test. On a windy day on a winding road, I noticed how the Q50 would "fight" against wind gusts, adjusting on the fly as I drove. This happens because Infiniti is trying to take some of the work out of driving, and of course the tech will someday lead to fully autonomous driving where you don't have to steer if you decide to take a nap or read a book. (We're a long way from that.)
I noticed how the car would essentially compensate for the wind in real-time. Heavier gusts meant the steering would take over a little more. A lighter gust, and the car would ease back to the center. It isn't perfect, and I don't think Infiniti wants it to act like a computer at all times. I had to correct my position in the lane a few times when I went around a curve, and definitely when there was an area during my drive where the lane markings were not as pronounced.
The technology works a bit like a weather radar--it is constantly "looking" for the markings and sending back the reading to the car. The Q50 uses electronic steering that can be controlled by a computer at all times, although there's a back-up mechanical system as well.
Driving this way feels almost effortless at times, as though you are gliding along and don't have to constantly make the adjustments yourself. It makes driving even more spirited and fun, not less entertaining. Because the car is so speedy, you can focus on the quick acceleration and keep your eyes focused out on the road ahead, not on the controls inside the car.
I liked being able to click one button to enable to lane-keeping sensors and adaptive cruise control (the tech that adjusts your speed in relation to other cars). On some makes and models, there are too many adjustments to make to activate these features.
It's quite fun to drive--and now easier to drive.