Infiniti is back with a new offering, but let’s face it how many knew they were around in the first place? Their dealer network is small, and they are a rare sight on the roads. The arrival of the Q50 range of mid-sized luxury sedans is here and EFTM has spent the last two weeks in the Q50 2.2d S Premium and Q50 3.5 Hybrid S Premium with AWD.
The 10 Minute Test Drive.
I regard the Infiniti Q50 as a fine piece of automotive design. It actually looks like a sexed up Mazda 6. Visually appealing even when stationary, but understated in a good way. Inside the appeal continues, but far from the accepted European way of doing things.
The concept of dual centre touch-screens breaks a few rules and I’m not sure it’s the greatest advancement in automotive infotainment splendor. I guess having the map always displayed on one screen is handy but the fact is many functions can be performed on both screens and with the centrally located rotary dial. Aluminum trim gets a sizeable workout, framing the centre stack, half of the centre console and with slices of it embedded into the upper portion of the door trim.
The words Infiniti and the accompanying logo are embroidered into the fancy NASA influenced leather seats. NASA? Yes, the claim is data was used to replicate a sense of zero gravity. Put simply, the seats are just comfortable. The instrument cluster is colourful and bright, with a customisable centre screen that displays reams and reams of information.
The rear pew is covered in the same sumptuous leather, but not much else stands out back there with just the usual air vents and reading lights. Leg room is acceptable but headroom is at a premium.
I drove two engine variants, the four-cylinder diesel and V6 Hybrid, both poles apart but both worthy of consideration.
After 10 minutes driving this car I can guarantee one thing, you’ll be surprised by just how active some of the driving aids can really be. There’s a sense of being a spectator rather than a participant. It’s a little haunting (daunting?) to drive a car so reliant on microchips getting things right.
Ins and outs.
So it’s diesel or the hybrid / petrol combo when choosing the right Q50 for you. The Mercedes sourced 2.2-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbo-diesel produces 125kW @ 3200-4200 and a substantial 400nm @ 5,200 rpm. By far the most frugal, we averaged 6.9l / 100km. But at times the unit is disappointingly noisy with old school diesel clatter. However you can rely on decent up and go when required.
Then there’s the stellar 3.5-litre V6 with Infiniti Direct Response Hybrid® which uses a 50kW electric motor. With a combined output of 268kW and 546Nm the mere mention of the ‘H’ word no longer generates smug laughter from doubters. A Stealth Fighter off the mark with the potential to leave an army of pretenders behind. The 100km/h dash is dispatched not too long after 5 seconds.
The Hybrid is able to run at higher speeds and for long runs of zero petrol usage. The transition between electric and petrol is about a smooth as it gets. The near instant torque available at all times shoves you back into those zero gravity seats, very satisfying indeed.
Our Hybrid model was equipped with AWD, I’m not sure there’s any need to tick that option. While the on demand system does provide extra road holding benefits, the rear drive only model is even quicker.
But it’s the technology which features some world firsts that really makes this car. For starters there is no active mechanical link at all between your fingers and the road. It really is drive-by-wire stuff. The wheel stays stable at all times, no vibration, and no following groves in the road, a complete disconnect between the wheels and hands.
The phantom tugging on the wheel caused by the Active Trace Control system takes some getting used to. Spirited driving with all the nanny systems activated can be a challenge. There’s a fine line between fun and reckless driving, the Q50 unfortunately intervenes before the fun starts and certainly a long time before anything dangerous. This makes it either a very safe car, or a very frustrating one. It depends on what you’re looking for.
The Adaptive Cruise Control system is becoming more common place, but the Q50 also allows auto braking even outside of a set speed. It’s possible to avoid touching the brake for long periods in stop / start traffic. Very novel indeed and brilliantly effective, easing you to a stop behind even cyclists.
The lane drift monitoring system steers you back on course as needed, and sensors will even jam on the brakes if you show signs of reversing into a pole or person!
One of the most competitive traits of the Q50 is its lack of options. Depending on spec, it’s basically fully loaded and ready to drive away. Premium versions are equipped with highlights such as a bonkers Bose® audio system, Digital Radio, every driver aid you can think of, a bird’s eye view reversing camera, multiple drive mode programs and LED headlights and DRL’s.
EFTM has driven a number of Infiniti models over the last year or so. Personally, seeing another one on the road has been an extreme rarity. So if your intention is to stand out from the rest, this make may be for you. The Q50 attracts curious stares, possibly not because of its looks but in more of a “what the hell is that?” way.
There are 2 engines and five variants of the Q50. Prices before on-roads are;
- Q50 GT 2.2 diesel – $51,900
- Q50 S – 2.2 diesel – $57,900
- Q50 S – 3.5 Hybrid – $67,900
- Q50 S Premium – 2.2 diesel – $61,900
- Q50 S Premium AWD – 3.5 Hybrid – $73,900
We averaged 6.9l / 100km in the 2.2 diesel while the AWD Hybrid was 9.8l / 100km.
EFTM Rubber Stamp.
The Infiniti Q50 aims to be an alternative to the other mid-sized luxury sedans on the market. Its most obvious threat would be Lexus but tackling the likes of the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C Class is a huge ask. It’s simply impossible to compete with their renowned heritage alone.
But as a standalone offering the Infiniti Q50 is one of the most advanced vehicles around at present. It offers a ride quality that betters the BMW 3 Series but isn’t as dynamically sorted. Levels of fit and finish are at the very least competitive and so is the pricing.
The Q50 scores our EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.