Direct Adaptive Steering has its critics but for me, the Q50 feels like it is an extension of the driver…
Infiniti has had a bit of an identity crisis over the past year with a wholesale change in the way it names its products.
Gone is the JX crossover, now called the QX60, and the G 37 sedan has been replaced with the Q50 sedan. (Q signifies for cars and QX for crossovers or SUVs.)
The outgoing G37 was already a very worthy on-road performer but a bit too simplistic in the inside. Now, Infiniti has taken things up a notch with the Q50, adding a dynamic look, sumptuous interior and class leading technology.
It could be argued that the current BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class are a bit conservative, while this Q50 and the major competitor, Lexus IS, are much edgier. This is especially true with the front grille. The rest of the Q50 is nicely sculpted, with flowing lines and an almost elegant rear end. Sold as a base model, sport trim, all wheel drive (AWD), premium and even a hybrid there is a broad market for this sedan. Starting at $37,500 and ramping up to the AWD sport model at $49,950, there is a substantial discount with the Q50 when you compare it to a similarly equipped BMW. The base model comes with 17-inch wheels but most of the higher trim levels are equipped with 19-inch wheels. The car seen here – in the photo gallery above – is the AWD premium model starting at $43,400.
The Q50 centre console is very attractive with two screen placed for radio functions and the second for the navigation ($1,400 option) and backup camera. The way the lower screen is incorporated is first rate; it looks like a high quality iPad that sits flush with the dash, while the higher screen is recessed for easier use in bright light.
The only problem with this system is the time it takes to boot-up when you start the car, over 30 seconds to access the radio and other features. Most people will buy the sport model ($47,495) or the premium trim ($43,400) to get heated leather seats, Bose stereo, backup camera with around view cameras and power tilt and telescopic steering to name a few additional features.
The base model is a price leader but expect buy the premium model or above to get the car well equipped. In comparison, the $53,800, 300hp BMW 335iS AWD is much more expensive than many of the top Q50 trim levels.
The latest trend is to include a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine as the base power plant in most German compact luxury sedans. This Q50 is bucking the trend and sticking with the 3.7L V6 they had in the previous G37 with a powerful and smooth 328hp.
The transmission is a 7-speed automatic that puts the power to either the rear wheels or all wheels, depending on the trim selected. Most Canadians will opt for the AWD model, which is a good choice due to the higher level of interior amenities.
In addition, the Q50 is the first car to have a steer-by-wire system that is customizable and this system is optional on the AWD models and standard on the sport versions of the Q50. Direct Adaptive Steering has its critics but for me, the Q50 feels like it is an extension of the driver, moving through corners with ease and comfort with just the slightest movement of the steering wheel. Handling is enhanced thanks to a stiffer chassis and the rear suspension has been adjusted.
The downside to equipping the Q50 with a V6 is the amount of fuel it burns in comparison to the turbo 4-cylinder offerings from the German competition. Rated at 11.1L/100km in the city and 7.3L on the highway for the AWD equipped model.
There is a hybrid version available that drops the consumption down to 7.0L/100km in the city and 5.0L on the highway but it is a premium offering with a starting price of $47,000.
The benchmark in the premium compact sedan market has been the BMW 3 Series… but the gap is narrowing.
This new Q50 looks great, has a wonderful interior, power to spare, and solid handling dynamics.
On price, the BMW 328i AWD is the closest and starts at $46,200 but is equipped with a 241hp 4-cylinder. The direct competitor on power is the much more expensive 335is AWD. The Lexus IS350 AWD is another premium offering from Japan, and it starts at a very competitive $44,000.
As much as the Japanese automakers like to challenge the German makers, they really end up competing with each other. Yes, this is a worthy car but the one thing you cannot factor into the buying decision is the badge appeal that storied brands like Mercedes, BMW and Audi provide.
Power: 3.7L V6 with 328hp
Fill-up: 11.1L/7.3L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $37,500-$47,950