The Car Connection Infiniti Q50 Overview
The Infiniti Q50 is the Japanese automaker's four-door, five-seat luxury sport sedan. Essentially, it's a revamped version of the former G35/G37 sedan. The Q50 wears different lines and updated mechanicals, but it's quite similar to the G cars in its fundamental layout and engineering.
The Q50 was introduced for the 2014 model year, and was the first of Infiniti's cars to adopt a new naming convention. Rejecting the past, the badge numbers no longer correspond to engine displacement, but instead to relative position in the lineup. Car models get "Q" names, while crossovers and SUVs carry the "QX" prefix. The related two-door G coupes are now dubbed Q60, for example.
Just two years after its redesign, the Q50 is updated for 2016. It gets three new engines, an adjustable Dynamic Digital Suspension, and a retuned version of the controversial "steer-by-wire" Direct Adaptive Steering system that debuted in 2014.
The Q50 is a rival for vehicles such as Audi's A4, the Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Series, and Cadillac ATS.
MORE: Read our 2016 Infiniti Q50 review
Of all of Infiniti's nameplates, the G lineup, and specifically the G37, probably had the most brand recognition, so the move to the Q50 badge was initially confusing. The G37 was known for its steering and handling, an all-around gratifying driving experience for enthusiasts while still offering the luxury expected in this price class. Its faults were a tight interior and a tendency to be a bit louder than competitors.
The Q50 has an obvious design link to its G37 predecessor, but brings the design up to date with a very modern, sleek profile and an interior with a much higher level of detailing. Its looks suggest a sportier car, even if the old car's focus has been muddled in the changeover.
In its first two model years, the Q50 could be had with two quite different V-6 powertrains and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive with each. Standard-issue models made use of a 328-horsepower version of the company's tried-and-true 3.7-liter V-6 paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission. There also was a Hybrid model, featuring a 3.5-liter V-6 with an electric motor system, two clutches, and a lithium-ion battery pack—essentially the same as the setup that debuted in the M35h hybrid—altogether making a total output of 354 hp.
For the 2016 model year, the new base engine is a 208-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 found in the QX30 compact and the Mercedes CLA/GLA. The old VQ V-6 is also ditched in favor of a pair of twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6s. In base form, the new VR-branded engine V-6 makes 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. In the Red Sport 400, it spins out 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. The Hybrid edition carries over, though it has been re-rated to 360 horsepower.
With the new engines come changes to the model lineup. For 2016, the lineup includes 2.0t, 2.0t Premium, 3.0t Premium, Sport, Red Sport 400, and Hybrid models. Rear- and all-wheel drive are offered.
While the G37 was known for its great steering and handling, the Q50 takes a slight step back from those accolades. A new Dynamic Digital Suspension offers adjustable dampers this year and helps flatten the attitude through corners. We found, however, that the summer tires on the Red Sport 400 lack the grip we expect in a sport sedan.
Infiniti introduced a first-of-its-kind steer-by-wire system as an option on the Q50 in 2014 and updated it for 2016 to provide better handling and more feel. Dubbed Direct Adaptive Steering, it lets drivers choose from several settings, with adjustments for weight and ratio. Initially, we thought it provided an unnatural, video-game disconnected feel. The system is better for 2016, offering quick responses at low speed and plenty of heft at high speeds. Still, it lacks some of the feel that a good hydraulic- or electric-assist system can provide.
Inside, the Q50 builds on a G sedan-sized package—meaning that rear leg room may still be on the tight side for adults—though Infiniti has pushed the B-pillar slightly forward to allow for easier entry in back. While we thought of the aggressively bolstered seats in the outgoing G37 to be among the best in its class for long-distance or performance driving, Infiniti says that the Q50's redesigned front seats offer more comfort. The Q50 comes with run-flat tires in all but the Hybrid model, which helps free up more cargo space. Hybrid models also lose some cargo space due to the lithium-ion battery, but there's quite a bit of space in any model (14.1 cubic feet for the Hybrid, versus 18.0 cubic feet for the others). Trims build on the plush, modern look of the M sedans, with "Kacchu" aluminum and maple wood detailing.
The Q50 offers plenty of active safety technologies, including an around view monitor with moving object detection, adaptive headlights, high beam assist, blind spot intervention, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, Active Lane Control, Predictive Forward Collision Warning with forward emergency braking, and backup collision intervention with rear cross traffic alert.
Active Lane Control takes over the steering to keep you in your lane. Oddly, it allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel without reminding them to reclaim control. That's not a good idea because the system won't steer around most bends.
The Q50 comes standard with the Infiniti InTouch infotainment system, with dual touchscreens and gestural support. More important info is up top and finer controls live on the lower touch display. This setup throws its hat into the ring with systems like BMW's iDrive, Ford Sync, and Cadillac's CUE. Infiniti's work is neither the best nor the worst implementation of a complex infotainment system. It can be difficult to remember where to expect or look for info or controls between the two screens, but the most important items are relatively easy to access.
The Q50 is also the first Infiniti model to offer Infiniti Connection, a security- and concierge-related telematics service that has a companion smartphone app and provides remote monitoring (of teen drivers, for example), SOS call and collision notification, as well as a personal assistant service.