2014 Infiniti Q50
Date Posted: March 30, 2014
By Zack Spencer
Infiniti has an amazing new compact luxury sedan ready to take on the best from Germany and Japan.
Infiniti, as a brand, is going through a major transformation. This year they changed the way they name their cars and SUVs to a simplified system that might take a little while to get used to. All crossovers and SUVs will have the letters QX. For example, the old Infiniti JX is now called the QX60. On the cars side, all their products will start with the letter Q. The old G37 sedan is now called the Q50. So, cars get Q and SUVs get QX. As I mentioned it might take time to adjust but over the long run this will be a simpler naming structure.
What hasn't changed is the development of high quality products at a relative discount to many of their German competitors. This new Q50 compact, luxury sedan is a perfect example. Starting at $37,500 it offers a lot, for less than the equivalent Mercedes, Audi or BMW. On paper the closest rival would be the other major Japanese competitor, Lexus with their new IS350.
What makes this Q50 a relative bargain is the standard power it delivers. Most companies are moving to smaller 4-cylinder turbocharged engines in their base models, while Infiniti has a large 3.7L V6 with 328hp. (The downside to not moving to smaller turbocharged engines is the higher fuel consumption.) In a BMW, a buyer would have to spend over $50,000 to get a 335is with only 300hp from a 6-cylinder. Not only is the base model a good value but the higher-end trim levels also compete very nicely, being offered with rear wheel drive (RWD) or all wheel drive (AWD) and sold as a Base trim, Premium (seen here) and a more aggressive Sport model. The most expensive trim is the Sport model with RWD at $47,950. There is also a hybrid model with even more power, at 360hp, making this the top of range Q50 with AWD and a $49,500 price tag.
Having a powerful base engine is only good if it is connected to a solid, stable platform to produce a sporty and luxurious ride. This Q50 does lean towards the sporty end of the spectrum with a revived suspension, and in the case of the Premium and Sport models, a world's first steer-by-wire system. Called Direct Adaptive Steering, this system allows the driver to customize the steering weight and quickness to their individual tastes. This makes the car corner and steer with an effortless nature I have never experienced in a sports sedan before. Some might not want to be this adventurous, which is okay because this system is optional on most models. In addition to having a solid platform there is also the sport model with a more aggressive suspension and bigger wheels and tires. Having driven the Premium trim with 17-inch wheel, and regular suspension, then the Sport with the more aggressive setup, I found the Premium to be the perfect balance of aggression and comfort. Make sure to try the Sport model to make sure you can live with the rather choppy ride.
What makes a premium car premium is the interior. The dash on the new Q50 is light years ahead of the old G37 with two screens in the centre console, one for car information and radio controls and the second for the navigation system and backup camera. The lower screen sits flush to the dash in a very sophisticated approach that resembles an iPad look and feel. The only problem with this system is the almost 30 seconds it takes to boot-up when the car is started. Let's hope there is a software updates for this, as it lets down the rest of the car.
The rest of the interior is finished with high quality materials and evokes richness that some of the competitors are missing. Not a stark German interior, rather lushness that many buyers will appreciate.
What gets attention from any prospective buyers is exterior styling and on this front Infiniti is taking things up a notch. The grille and front spoiler is aggressive, yet the rear of the car is still elegant and features flowing lines. The Sport model does look fantastic with the larger 19-inch wheels and the Hybrid isn't the weakling of the group, rather the 360hp powerhouse and it looks the part.
Infiniti has made it very clear that they want to be recognized as a premium brand that can take on the established frontrunners from Germany. While they might not have the same brand recognition as BMW, Mercedes and Audi, they are building vehicles that should get noticed. The name might have changed but this new Q50 is a luxury sedan worthy of the competition.
Power: 3.7L V6 with 328hp
Economy: 10.6L/6.7L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $37,500-$47,950