2015 INFINITI Q50 Review

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The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
May 27, 2015

The 2015 Infiniti Q50 continues as a more luxurious successor to the fabled G sedan, although in some forms it loses part of the enthusiast flavor of that model.

Though the badge doesn't quite suggest it, the Q50 is a familiar luxury sedan, the successor to Infiniti's G37 sedan. New for 2014, the Q50 is the first major redo of what was once known as the G, the first real Japanese-bred rival to the BMW 3-Series. Infiniti's freshest sport sedan lays out a more ambitious agenda than ever before.

The Q50 is aimed primarily at the latest 3-Series, as well as the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS. In terms of overall dimensions, it's actually a half-size larger than those, and a half-size down from cars like the BMW 5-Series and Jaguar XF.

The new sheetmetal is simply striking: the sensuality of the bigger Infiniti Q70 sedan (formerly the M) works in exotic new ways on the Q50, especially at the exaggerated intersection of curves and surfaces behind its rear doors. The boomerang brackets at the grille resemble the ones on the Lexus, but their hourglass shape is more cohesive with the rest of the silhouette. Meanwhile, the interior is organized around a sweeping theme that cordons off the controls to the driver with an arc running down the console. The asymmetry helps keep the look a little sportier, a little more cockpit-like. It's dominated by what's sure to be the Q50's lightning rod for controversy: Infiniti InTouch, a twin-screen system that takes most infotainment and vehicle-setup controls the touch-screen route, with only a handful of redundant hard keys left behind.

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Infiniti offers two basic powertrains spread out over ten different configurations. The 2015 Q50 model is once again available with a 3.7-liter V-6 as well as a hybrid system based on a 3.5-liter V-6. Either powertrain is available with standard rear-wheel drive or available all-wheel drive.

In 3.7-badged sits an updated VQ 3.7-liter V-6 with 328 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. It sings along with less of the coarse character of the G37, while revving just as freely and eagerly through the gears. Gearing for the seven-speed automatic is a bit taller than before, in the interest of fuel economy and cabin quiet; paddle shifters and throttle-blip downshifts rise to the occasion; there's no longer a manual gearbox on offer.

The Hybrid feels just as quick, with very well-coordinated throttle response and 360 combined system horsepower from a special version of Infiniti's 3.5-liter V-6 and a 50-kW motor system. The powertrain features a unique dual-clutch-pack hybrid system (with a dry clutch fore of the transmission and motor system and a wet clutch aft of them) that effectively smooths out both shift shock and transitions from one power source to the other. EPA ratings for the Hybrid reach as high as 29 mpg city, 36 highway, real-world mileage boosts that Lexus's performance-focused hybrid system can't quite match.

Direct Adaptive Steering made its debut on the 2014 Q50 and is once again available—it's a groundbreaking, world-first technology feature that fundamentally changes the way the driver points the car. The system is steer-by-wire, with the only feedback reaching the driver being what the computers decide should be synthesized. We're not convinced it's going to be the preference of driving enthusiasts. Thankfully, it's not a standard feature, and Infiniti has been working to improve it since the car's launch. We much prefer the Q50 S, with hydraulic steering, sport suspension, and summer tires, thanks very much.

Infiniti's Drive Mode Select allows drivers to tailor the car's driving personality to fit their mood. With Standard, Sport, Eco, and Snow modes—as well as a customizable Personal setting—the system changes shift patterns, the sensitivity of the throttle, and even the Direct Adaptive Steering's effort and ratio. Overall, the Q50 feels slightly more compliant than its predecessor while remaining crisp and balanced. Standard-issue 17-inch wheels are shod with 55-series run-flat all-season tires, with all-season or summer tires optional in 19-inch, 40-series spec.

The Q50's seats benefit from some of the thought that went into those in the latest Nissan Altima--pressure is distributed more evenly, for long-distance comfort. For more interior space, Infiniti says it's slimmed down the front seatbacks and increased front-seat travel and height adjustment. In back, passengers have easier access because the B-pillars were moved an inch forward. Trunk space is boosted to 18 cubic feet on the non-hybrid Q50, while the hybrid loses 3.9 cubic feet to battery pack storage.

There are five core packages for the Q50 lineup, each offered in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive: Infiniti Q50 3.7, Q50 3.7 Premium, and Q50S 3.7, as well as the Q50 Hybrid Premium and Q50S Hybrid. Options are lumped into a few large packages. The Deluxe Touring Package (for $3,100) adds Direct Adaptive Steering plus power adjustment for the steering wheel, memory settings, real wood trim, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and an Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. Connectivity features for the Infiniti InTouch infotainment system include a security- and concierge-related telematics service that has a companion smartphone app and provides remote monitoring (for teen drivers, for example), SOS call and collision notification, and a personal assistant service.

Additions for 2015 are limited to a Performance Wheel package, which brings wide 19-inch lightweight RAYS wheels and summer tires.  

Safety technology offered on the 2015 Q50 includes Active Lane Control, which uses cameras to pick up on and correct for slight steering shifts due to road surfaces and crosswinds. Also available are adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, and lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems. Infiniti has bolstered the body structure, adding more high-strength steel and effectively reengineering the entire vehicle. It was also able to cut some weight overall compared to the outgoing model. Crash-test ratings are improved somewhat over those of the G37, and the new model is an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.

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2015 INFINITI Q50

Styling

A more flowing, organic shape gives the Infiniti Q50 a styling edge over the old G sedan--and BMW's latest, too.

The 2015 Infiniti Q50 represents a styling leap as compared to the G37 model it replaced. Though larger than some of its main competitors, the Q50's proportions manage to make it look more compact from a few paces back. Its interior surprises with more space and finer details up close.

Whether you see the exterior design as a somewhat more adventurous take on the larger Q70 sedan or an especially curvaceous expansion of the former G37's handsome look, the new sheetmetal is simply striking. The sensuality of the Q70 is translated to and amped up on the Q50, especially at the intersection of exaggerated curves and surfaces behind its rear doors. The boomerang brackets at the grille resemble the ones on Lexus's IS, but their hourglass shape is more cohesive with the rest of the silhouette. The double-arch grille and all-LED lighting details offer a combination of aggressive and smooth styling. The Q50 is lower than the G Sedan, yet two inches wider, which has an affect on the car's stance. The coefficient of drag is down to a low 0.26.

We especially appreciate the creasing and surfacing, which add visual interest especially when the vehicle is viewed side-on. For instance, a fender line begins up front and continues along the side, then fades around the A-pillar where another one starts. Infiniti's designers say they modeled it after elements of nature, like waves. A year on, the Q50's design continues to look dramatic and appears as though it will continue to age well.

The interior has a sweeping theme that cordons off the controls to the driver with an arc running down the console. The asymmetry helps keep the look a little sportier, a little more cockpit-like. It's dominated by what's sure to be the Q50's lightning rod for controversy: Infiniti InTouch. It's a twin-screen system that replaces most vehicle and infotainment controls with menus on capacitive-touch displays, with a handful of redundant hard keys left behind. A large touchscreen displays frequently used functions from atop the dash, while a second runs infotainment and other systems on a separate pane below, effectively acting like dual monitors.

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2015 INFINITI Q50

Performance

The Q50 preserves the G's responsive, balanced driving feel, but its new drive-by-wire system is not ready for prime time.

All Q50 models are powered by a V-6 engine, either the 3.7-liter in standard gas models or the 3.5-liter that's part of a performance-oriented hybrid system.

In either version, a seven-speed automatic with a manual mode is the sole transmission offered. Paddle-shift controls are available, and all-wheel drive is an option on either model. The manual gearbox offered on the G37 is gone—it got thrown by the wayside in Infiniti's quest to put more refinement and technology into the Q50—but we're told a three-pedal option could return sometime in the future.

Although the 3.7-liter engine hasn't changed significantly since its last incarnation, it's no longer nearly as ragged and coarse as it was in the G37. Engineers put a lot of effort into smoothing and isolating the motor, with new intake and exhaust manifolds, as well as other measures that aid drivability in the middle of the rev range.

The seven-speed automatic transmission has been refined a bit, too, but the big change is that it's been given a taller final-drive ratio. The transmission provides nice throttle-blipped downshifts and remarkably little driveline shock. Overall, the 3.7-liter sings up its range with much more harmony than it ever did in the G.

Infiniti lowered overall weight by 50 pounds in the new car—most of it coming from the structure—and you take off from a standing start with plenty of verve despite the taller effective ratio. Lower revs in higher-speed cruising (less than 2,500 rpm at 75 mph) is the other big advantage—to contribute to the quiet inside and raise this powertrain's mileage up to 20 mpg city, 30 highway with rear-wheel drive.

The Hybrid feels just as quick as the 3.7, with very well-coordinated throttle response and 360 combined horsepower from a special version of Infiniti's 3.5-liter V-6 plus a 50-kW motor system. The Q50 Hybrid uses a unique dual-clutch-pack hybrid system (with a dry clutch fore of the transmission and motor system and a wet clutch aft of them) that effectively smooths out both shift shock and transitions from one power source to the other. It allows the car to gently take off on electric power alone, as well as turn off the gasoline engine to 'glide' along down gradual expressway downhills. And with EPA ratings of up to 29 mpg city, 36 highway (and an observed 29 mpg over about 100 miles) it manages to boost real-world mileage in a way that Lexus's performance hybrid system can't.

There's one respect in which the Hybrid doesn't quite measure up, and that's braking. The last bit before a complete, gentle stop is 'muddy'—that's the best way to describe it—but if you stop harder it's more precise.

Direct Adaptive Steering was new for the 2014 Q50 and continues to be available after some tweaking in its first year. This groundbreaking, world-first technology feature is steering by wire, with no direct connection from the driver's hands to the front wheels. There are several different steering settings with independently adjustable steering weight and ratio--with a conventional mechanical setup as a fallback. We drove very early versions of this system and its responses were far below par--so far that we've requested a re-drive with updated controls for the system.

Infiniti's new Drive Mode Select also helps make sure you get the driving personality right for the mood. With Standard, Sport, Eco, and Snow modes—as well as a customizable Personal setting—the system changes shift patterns, the sensitivity of the throttle, and even the Direct Adaptive Steering's effort and ratio.

A revised suspension leaves the double-wishbone front layout intact, while adding dual-flow shocks to the multi-link rear suspension.  Separately, the geometry of the rear suspension has been altered to provide a little more compliance. Standard-issue 17-inch wheels are shod with 55-series run-flat all-season tires, with all-season or summer tires optional in 19-inch, 40-series spec.

A sport-tuned setup is also offered, along with summer tires and the less tech-intensive hydraulic steering. Those choices, along with both the stiffer Q50 body and the retuned suspension, improve handling so it's on par with the latest BMW. The steering feel may not be as dialed in as it was on the former G37, but given the current state of base BMW tune, the Q50 at least has smooth, nag-free responses throughout its range of motion--and summer tires give the steering nice bite and feedback that's bound to go away at some point in the future, when Infiniti gets the steer-by-wire system nailed down. Quieter and with more intimate handling than the 3-Series now, the Q50 stands with the C-Class and Cadillac's ATS as our favorite luxury sport sedans.

New for 2015, a Performance Wheel option includes lightweight 19-inch aluminum RAYS wheels with stickier summer-performance rubber.

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2015 INFINITI Q50

Comfort & Quality

The Q50 casts a wider net with excellent front seats, good rear-seat and trunk space, and a quiet, isolated cabin.

The 2015 Infiniti Q50 is about the same size on the outside as the G Sedan it replaced last year. Thanks to some rejiggering of the space inside, however, there are better provisions for those in back, as well as much more comfort and quiet for everyone.

The Q50's seats benefit from some of the thought that went into those in the latest Nissan Altima. It's a so-called zero-gravity approach patterned after some real space-age knowledge from NASA--in essence, pressure is distributed more evenly for long-distance comfort. All the Sport models come with extendable thigh bolsters for the driver—a feature that helps tremendously in providing long-range comfort for taller drivers.

Infiniti managed to fit a few more inches of rear legroom in—through the use of a thinner front-seat design and, for an easier time getting feet in and out, a side pillar that’s in a slightly different place. That said, headroom is still quite limited, and we'll venture to guess that most six-footers will be rubbing the headliner.

Trunk space is boosted to 18 cubic feet on the non-hybrid Q50, while the hybrid loses 3.9 cubic feet to battery pack storage. Hybrids have pretty much the same packaging, but because of the battery's location they can’t be specified with the split-folding rear seat.

In terms of refinement and quiet, the Q50 is much improved versus the previous G model; it's now on par with German rivals for comfort and isolation, and engine noise is well-muted except when accelerating rapidly.

The Infiniti InTouch infotainment system is the most controversial change to the sedan's interior. It consists of a lower seven-inch touch screen and an upper eight-inch one. The upper screen can be controlled via a slightly different version of Infiniti’s rotary/button controller. Infiniti has made many of the controls in the Q50 redundant; although some convenience features, like the heated steering wheel, require going into a proper screen. For example, destinations are chosen on the lower screen, but display on the upper one.

In effect, it's dual monitors--and an interesting choice that could either reduce complexity or increase it, depending on the implementation. We've found it to be somewhat distracting at first, until you figure out where to expect the control or screen you're looking for to appear, and the menu structure can also take some getting used to as well. And despite its newfound popularity on this system and Cadillac's CUE, force feedback doesn't provide much information outside the fact that you've touched something, but not what it was or does.

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2015 INFINITI Q50

Safety

Safety ratings are excellent, and the Q50 has a bounty of accident-avoidance help on board.

The Infiniti Q50 is lighter than its predecessor and carries many more advanced-safety items. It scores well in third-party crash testing as well.

Compared to the former G37 Sedan, Infiniti has bolstered the body structure, adding more high-strength steel and effectively reengineered the entire vehicle. The changes also allowed for some weight reduction: Curb weight is at 3,574 pounds, a figure that’s respectable for this class and also about 50 pounds less than before.

The Q50 has a veritable mother lode long list of available active-safety features. Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Blind-Spot Intervention, and an Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection are all among the —in a less scolding way than the systems of just a few years ago.

Of note is something called Predictive Forward Collision Warning, a world-first system that warns the driver of risks far ahead of what he/she might otherwise see—by using sensing the second vehicle ahead, and warning the driver visually and audibly, while also tightening the seatbelt. A new Active Lane Control system makes it easy to glide along in your lane on the highway, with seemingly no small adjustments needed for the pavement surface or crosswinds—and the system uses a camera system to fine-tune your lane placement in an oddly unobtrusive way.

Most of these features are offered as part of the Technology Package or Deluxe Technology Package, available on all but the base Q50 models.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the Q50 its top-tier Top Safety Pick+ distinction, with 'good' ratings in all test categories, except the new, more stringent small overlap frontal test, where it earned a second-best 'acceptable' rating. It earned a good five-star overall score from the federal government for 2014, although its frontal protection was rated an imperfect four stars. Those NHTSA scores are expected to carry over to 2015.

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2015 INFINITI Q50

Features

The Q50's new twin-screen infotainment system works well, and comfort and convenience items abound.

The 2015 Infiniti Q50 is offered ten different ways, with a total of five core packages each offered with rear- or optional all-wheel drive. The 3.7-liter models include base, Premium, and S versions, while the gas-electric is offered as the Q50 Premium Hybrid and the Q50S Hybrid.

Standard equipment across the board includes the InTouch dual-screen infotainment system, dual-zone auto climate control, intelligent key, rearview monitor, Bluetooth, LED headlights, and a tilt and telescope steering column.

To that, Premium models add heated front seats, a power moonroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a universal garage-door opener, and a Bose Centerpoint surround-sound system. Hybrid models add leather seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a sport suspension, and Direct Adaptive Steering. At the top of the lineup, the Q50S models include sport seats with thigh extensions, leather upholstery, aluminum pedals, magnesium paddle shifters, upgraded brakes, a sport front bumper, and the sport suspension.

Options are lumped into a few large packages. The Deluxe Touring Package (for $3,100) adds Direct Adaptive Steering plus a power-adjustable steering wheel, memory settings, real wood trim, rain-sensing wipers, front and rear parking sensors, and an Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection.

The $3,200 Technology Package adds to that Predictive Forward Collision, Forward Emergency Braking, Intelligent Cruise Control (over the full speed range), Forward Collision Warning, Distance Control Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Active Lane Control, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, High Beam Assist, Adaptive Front Lighting, Backup Collision Intervention, and the Eco Pedal.

A Deluxe Technology Package combines those two packages except for (on 3.7 models) the Direct Adaptive Steering, power-adjustable steering wheel, and split-folding rear seat.

New for 2015 is a Performance Wheel package, which includes lightweight 19-inch RAYS aluminum wheels shod with grippy summer-performance rubber, providing handling above and beyond the upgrades available on the rear-drive S model.

A moonroof can be added to the base model for $1,000, while nav is a $1,400 option available on all but the base cars.

The standard Infiniti InTouch infotainment system comes a pair of stacked screens: a lower seven-inch unit and an upper eight-inch one. The upper screen can be controlled via a slightly different version of Infiniti’s rotary/button controller, while the lower screen is a touch screen, intended more for media controls. Infiniti has made many of the controls in the Q50 redundant; although some convenience features, like the heated steering wheel, require going into a menu screen. We saw a big gap between intent and execution, at least in the early pre-production cars we sampled (lagginess and some lockups were an issue in those)--though later drives in late-2015 cars showed better screen responsiveness.

InTouch is bundled with a security- and concierge-related telematics service that has a companion smartphone app and provides remote monitoring (for teen drivers, for example), SOS call and collision notification, and a personal assistant service.

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2015 INFINITI Q50

Fuel Economy

The Q50 Hybrid earns an impressive 31-mpg EPA combined rating, while other models improve on fuel economy the old-fashioned way.

The 2015 Infiniti Q50 sticks with an all-V-6 lineup. Unlike most other compact-to-mid-size luxury sport sedans today, there’s no turbo four or diesel on offer for Americans, although it does offer a performance hybrid option.

Fuel-economy ratings range slightly over the various models for each powertrain. Base 3.7 models return EPA ratings of 20 mpg in the city and 30 on the highway with rear-wheel drive, while rear-drive Premium and S models drop down slightly to 20/29 mpg. All all-wheel-drive 3.7-liter models are rated at 19/27 mpg.

Cars equipped with the Technology Package include a so-called Eco Pedal that will actually press back more firmly to encourage you drive more economically. It can further improve ratings above those from the EPA, although in daily use it can be somewhat annoying.

Opt for the Q50 Hybrid, for a few thousand dollars extra, and you'll get performance that's satisfying—if not quite on par with standard versions—and with better mileage. With its 3.5-liter V-6 and 50-kW electric motor system, the Hybrid earns 29 mpg city, 36 highway with rear-wheel drive or 28/35 with all-wheel drive. Q50S Hybrids drop slightly, to 28/34 mpg with rear-drive and 27/31 mpg for the all-wheel-drive version.

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July 10, 2016
2015 INFINITI Q50 4-Door Sedan Hybrid Premium AWD

Car Has been refined a little over prev. Models of M-Series

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Car Has been refined a little over prev. Model's of M-Series! Will Out run the Infiniti M Series on top end just in case...! Needs to Turbo Charge it to make it really stand out on this big machine. I Like the... + More »
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May 22, 2016
2015 INFINITI Q50 4-Door Sedan Hybrid Sport RWD

Great car, value and features

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Very satisfied with the car, excellent performance, look and features. Full package of a Premium sport sedan with great fuel economy
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February 21, 2016
2015 INFINITI Q50 4-Door Sedan Premium RWD

This car surprised me after leasing a MB C250 for three years

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I had not vetted this car as I usually do. It was a spur of the moment decision precipitated by my MB lease coming due and a very aggressive sales mgr. I initially regretted leasing it, compared to my MB C250... + More »
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November 19, 2015
For 2015 INFINITI Q50

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I started my search for a new vehicle mid-summer and on my list was the Q50, A4, A5, 4 Series, Cadillac and the IS 350. When it was all said and done the Q50 AWD Limited was my final choice. An absolute gem to... + More »
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May 7, 2015
2015 INFINITI Q50 4-Door Sedan Premium AWD

One of the best car I have ever owned and I have had quite a dew cars over the years

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This may be one of the best cars I have ever owned in my life. The performance is quite ample and in the sport mode, you get through traffic without a problem. The quality is outstanding and the technology is... + More »
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April 16, 2015
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3rd Infiniti, excellent value, great performance and overall features, would definitely recommend

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Most enjoyable to drive, excellent performance, luxury at realistic pricing
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