Wow, what a fabulous car, and what a price.

Infiniti wanted to show off this hot looker's sporting prowess so the test route for the Q50 sedan's launch included the 20km Marysville to Lake Mountain Hillclimb road.

With the top 10km closed to other traffic and a slalom track set up in the ski-resort carpark, we did as much weaving as anyone in Sochi. The star turn was the 3.5-litre V6 Hybrid, whose assertive, ready-to-spring stance was matched by brilliant zip: 0-100km/h in 5.1sec.

With the winding roads ringed eerily by snow gums, petrified because of Black Saturday, it was reassuring the car has brilliant grip, handling, braking and steering.

The latter's technology is a claimed world-first in a production car - Direct-Adaptive Steering, or steering by wire.

No negative feedback, such as bumps and potholes, is transferred back to the steering wheel while the driver's inputs are acted upon swiftly and precisely.

The system also keeps the car centrally positioned in the lane, regardless of wind or road camber, without the need for the usual minimal adjustment.

The driver can also opt for an array of steering modes, ranging from casual to sporty driving.

The steering technology, tested on the slaloms, proved far superior to the more conventional electric steering system fitted to the entry diesel model only.

At $67,900 for the S model or $73,900 with S Premium spec and all-wheel-drive, the Hybrid's a steal - for the well-heeled, of course.

Also priced way below rivals is the 2.2-litre Diesel, which comes in three specs and a terrific-value $51,900 to $61,900 price span.

The 125kW diesel is a punchy performer and sips 5.2L/100km.

Even the entry $51,900 version feels luxurious.

It comes with a seven-speed auto, four-mode drive selector (standard, snow, sport, personal) and two touch screens, including a huge sat-nav display.

There is also leather trim, internet and app connectivity, smart key with memory, 17-inch alloys, LED headlamps, reversing camera and dual-zone climate control.

The S spec ($57,900 diesel, $67,900 hybrid) makes the car seriously interesting, with the groundbreaking adaptive-steering system, 18-inch wheels on the diesel, 19-inch wheels on the hybrid, electric sunroof and the dazzling sounds of a Bose 14-speaker stereo system.

The Hybrid S also gets sport suspension and opposed-piston sport brakes.

Pinnacle S Premium variants ($61,990 Diesel, $73,990 Hybrid) add three-spoke 19-inch alloys, all-wheel drive on the Hybrid and an array of sci-fi safety systems.

Great to help counter WA's notoriously bad record for bingles in shopping carparks is Back-up Collision Intervention.

It can see cars coming even if you can't, warn you and even stop the Q50 if a collision is imminent.

Love it.

Also helpful where scrapes might occur is a bird's-eye view on a screen of your car and the objects surrounding you.

Other technology can help you to avoid hitting the car ahead, changing lanes when unsafe and drifting from your lane.

The Infiniti range will be completed later this year with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, with pricing similar to the diesel variants.

The Q50 is such a headturner and ripping performer, everyone would want to know what you're driving. The downside would be the nearest dealer being the wrong side of the Nullarbor.

Prices: $51,900-$61,900
Engine: 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel
Outputs: 125kW/400Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Thirst: 5.2L/100km

Prices: $67,900-$73,900
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 petrol/electric hybrid
Outputs: 268kW/546Nm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Thirst: 6.8L/100km (RWD), 7.2L/100km (AWD)

The West Australian

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