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First Drive: 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

NASHVILLE, Tennessee — With casual glance, it was easy to dismiss the 2018 Infiniti Q50 sedan’s unveiling late last winter at the Geneva motor show. But mid-cycle refreshes are important, especially in the highly competitive BMW 3 Series segment, which nevertheless is shrinking due to the growth of premium/luxury SUVs.

Visually, the 2018 model year facelift for the Q50 is pretty subtle. Introduced in 2014 and first updated for the ’16 model year, exterior clues are relegated to new front and rear fascias, new wheels, and new trim level designations aside from our test car, a twin-turbo V-6-powered Red Sport 400.

Infiniti also has upgraded the interior with a new stitched instrument panel, new steering wheel, an Infiniti “signature” shifter, and upgraded gauge and ambient lighting, with “significant” differences between the Red Sport 400 and the more quotidian models. There are new semi-autonomous safety features, reduced NVH, and improved vehicle dynamic control. Infiniti now offers an optional 16-speaker stereo from Bose’s high-fidelity Performance Series, and it sounds wonderfully clear and bright.

The Red Sport’s interior makes heavy use of black-colored materials and carbon-fiber-like details without coming off as dark as Johnny Cash’s suit closet.

There are new trim level names for the rest of the range, and you can expect this to roll out across the Infiniti line while you’re still trying to figure out if the Q50 corresponds to the old G35 and G37 (it does). There’s Pure (base), Luxe (mainstream premium), Sport, and Red Sport.

Pure and Luxe Q50s get a new base engine, a 208-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four. The Luxe also is available with the newly added 300-horse 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 or, in the Hybrid Luxe, the 360-net horsepower combination of a 3.5-liter V-6 with a 50-killowatt electric motor. Our subject car comes with the 400-hp version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. All come with a seven-speed automatic, and all can be had in rear- or all-wheel-drive.

Oh, and Infiniti has added rack-based electronic power steering, standard, and has made improvements to the optional Direct Adaptive Steering, the first mass-market steer-by-wire offered in the U.S. market, introduced four years ago.

“A lot of learning has gone in” on DAS, says U.S. product planner Anand Patel. And you have to give Infiniti credit for picking itself up and brushing itself off after auto journalists unanimously panned the system when it made its debut.

So the big question is, is it good?

Well, it’s much improved. Feel and feedback are okay, and it does point the car where you want it to, though it still feels a bit funny and artificial on-center. Like most cars in this category, switching the vehicle dynamic control to “Sport” or “Sport+” adds a bit more weight, while altering the shift points. The thing is, it’s at least as good as the erstwhile benchmark, the BMW 3 Series, which has lost its way and grew a layer of isolation with the latest model. Best steering in the category now belongs to the Cadillac ATS, Alfa Romeo Giulia (at least, the Quadrofoglio, which is the only variant I’ve driven so far), and maybe the Jaguar XE.

Fear not, Infinitinista. Improvement is the right direction, and anyway, you can forgo DAS in favor of a conventional electric power steering with the electronics mounted on the steering rack, as noted above. DAS is part of a $2,700 ProActive package available on all turbo-six models and if you decide to save the cash, you also give up intelligent cruise control, blind spot intervention, lane-departure prevention and active lane control, adaptive front lighting, and high-beam assist. I know I’m showing my age, but it seems like it would be easy to live without much of this if you like driving a driver’s car.

And a driver’s car, the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is. Throttle tip-in betrays a bit of turbo lag, but otherwise the car takes off like a … oh, choose your cliché. Let’s say, a runaway German train on the autobahn, but with strong brakes that can confidently reel the car in.

Ride is firm with the 19-inch wheels, but without the crash-over-bump motion that can easily afflict a high-strung sport sedan. I’m happy that Infiniti didn’t shoot for an even “20” on the wheel size. Body roll and understeer are minimal, at least as far as I could tell on ess-infested roads outside of Nashville, including The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Since it was a mere G35, Infiniti’s BMW 3 Series-fighter has been a formidable, lower-priced competitor for what once was the segment’s standard-bearer. With its most recent updates, the Q50’s answer to the M3 appears to have caught its benchmark car (a longer, more intensive drive is needed to make a more definitive assessment). Keep working on the Direct Adaptive Steering, Infiniti, and you can catch the segment’s new leaders.

2018 Infinti Q50 Red Sport 400 Specifications

ON SALE Late Summer
PRICE $51,950/$57,300 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/400 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
LAYOUT 2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA MILEAGE 20/29 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 189.6 x 71.8 x 56.8 in
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
WEIGHT 3,744 lb
0-60 MPH 4.5 sec
TOP SPEED N/A

 

The post First Drive: 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 appeared first on Automobile Magazine.

Coldplay — The Scientist

You Can Now Rent Pablo Escobar’s Beachside Villa In Tulum

An escape to Mexico can take many different shapes. Of course, you may think of a criminal absconding across the border never to be heard from again, but you don’t have to be a wanted man (or woman) to want a little escape. In the spirit of luxury, relaxation, and culture, hotelier Lio Malca has created the perfect setting for a short-term escape. Casa Malca is located just off the beach in Tulum and features 35 luxury rooms, decorated with hand-chosen art, as well as top notch cuisine and atmosphere. Most interestingly, before it was a hotel destination, this property was owned by notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.

As you might expect, it was not exactly a simple task to buy the home of former Narco, a feared and revered figure in Mexico and around the world.

To make this beautiful home his own (and it was simply his vacation home at first), Malca had to jump through a number of hoops just to find out who owned the property since it had been seized.

Once he was able to make the deal, the dreamy villa began to take place, starting with just 9 rooms for Malca and his friends.

Because of his connection to the art world, the art of the villa is incredibly important.

Throughout the space, visitors will see works from Keith Haring, Basquiat, and KAWS.

Of course, the artwork has a beautiful backdrop with each room in the hotel designed and furnished in bright colors and carefully chosen natural materials.

It is easy to see the artistic influence in the space, with colorful cartoon dining chairs and large pieces of artwork on the wall.

Contrasted with the natural wood, the colorful designs pop that much more.

Though the hotel is not an all-inclusive resort, it would be easy to spend all your meals here.

The Haring-inspired bar is breathtaking and features signature mezcal cocktails, the perfect refreshment after a day at the beach.

Fresh ingredients from surrounding areas make for delicious seasonal menu.

Of course, no one wants to visit Mexico without the opportunity to get their fill of tacos.

The guest rooms start at $450 per night, which is a small price to pay for such luxury.

It was the popularity of the beach home with Malca’s friends that led him to expand the space to 35 rooms from the original 9, still keeping the addition to the original design.

The relatively small size means the hotel never feels crowded, even if every room is booked.

Unique color schemes make every room its own special retreat.

Sliding doors out onto the beach are one of the many attractions of the location, complete with white sand and emerald Caribbean waters.

The artwork that hangs in the hotel is chosen of course for its beauty but also for how it will hold up to the hot, humid weather of a Mexican beach.

The hotel is the only art focused hotel in the popular Tulum area.

Despite the luxurious interior, the exterior of the villa is just as important and gorgeous.

Colorful hammocks along the beach make for a perfect way to relax near the water while staying relatively sand-free.

Under the shade of a handcrafted wood roof, a late afternoon nap feels that much more luxurious.

Spending a moment lazily swinging would be sure to pull out any last inkling of stress.

Most of the rooms are only about 20 steps from the water, but creative exterior views do not only include the lapping of waves against the shore.

This cut wood wall is just one more way that the space incorporates natural material for that earthy, relaxing experience.

For a romantic dinner, guests can sit alone under a beautiful canopy and relive their most lovely memories.

Outdoor lighting is dim and glowy, giving just enough shimmer to see a companion’s face.

During the day, glowing lights become decor.

The patterns within the construction are beautiful but imperfect, capturing the essence of a beach life.

Drift off under a cabana and wake only to pop inside for another cocktail.

Tulum itself is nestled between the beach and the jungle, making for spectacular weather and lush greenery.

The intimate hotel may not be entirely private, but it is easy to ignore anyone but your favorite traveling companion, even if that’s just a good book.

If you get up early enough, you can watch the sun peek out over the endless horizon.

And a private indoor pool can satiate your need for water when it’s too hot — or too cold — to swim outside.

Most of us may never get to experience such luxury, but those that do will be in good company. Pablo Escobar may have done many objectionable things, but he knew how to live.

Reference: CoolHunting, Casa Malca, Breton Carasso

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Tree House in Cape Town Makes for Peaceful Hideaway

The creative team at Malan Vorster Architecture Interior Design was challenged to design a nature hideaway in Cape Town, South Africa. This modern tree house with glass and western red cedar finishes has an iconic shape that maximizes views of the site.

Its vertical layout leaves enough room for a living space on the first level, with a dining alcove and large windows. The second floor accommodates the bedroom, while the third features a rooftop terrace with built-in seating units. “The building lightly touches the ground, and entry is by means of a suspended timber and Corten steel ramp,” the architects said.

Corten steel columns, arms and rings support the floors and heavy windows. All materials are said to be left untreated to change hues with the passing of time.

“The organizational diagram of the structure explores the pure geometry of a square, with each side divided into three modules,” the architects explained. “Two of these modules determine the diameter of a circle on each of the four sides of the square — resulting in a pinwheel plan layout.” As you go through the architecture plans at the end of the post, this seemingly intricate design will unravel into a logical, yet fascinating configuration. Photography: Adam Letch and Mickey Hoyle

The post Tree House in Cape Town Makes for Peaceful Hideaway appeared first on Freshome.com.

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