- Beautiful sheet metal
- Interior refinement
- Available all-wheel drive
- A touchscreen system with lots of redundancy
- Great Hybrid mileage
- Why are folding rear seats optional?
- Direct Adaptive Steering still controversial
- Brakes harder to modulate with Hybrid
The 2017 Infiniti Q50 is an attractive sport sedan with good road feel, though some rivals have sharper track moves.
The successor to the G37, the Infiniti Q50 is a sport sedan that competes with some of the best handling, most engaging sedans in the world. It offers rear- or all-wheel drive, a choice of turbocharged engines, and a hybrid model.
In terms of overall dimensions, the Q50 is actually a half-size larger than rivals like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and a half-size down from cars like the BMW 5-Series and Jaguar XF.
Completely redesigned for the 2014 model year, the Q50 received three new turbocharged engines last year. This year it gets a new Sport model for the base 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, a new Design package for V-6 models, and minor equipment upgrades.
We rate the Q50 above average in its luxury sport-sedan class. Everyday road manners border on brilliant, and new powertrains give it a much broader range of appeal. Back-seat space isn't great, and neither is fuel economy—and the Q50's infotainment system is more haphazard than we like. It earns a 7.0 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Infiniti Q50 styling and performance
The Q50's sheet metal is simply striking: the sensuality of the bigger Infiniti Q70 sedan works in exotic ways here, especially at the exaggerated intersection of curves and surfaces behind the rear doors. The boomerang brackets at the grille resemble those of the Lexus IS, but their hourglass shape is more cohesive with the rest of the silhouette. The interior is organized around a sweeping theme that cordons off the controls to the driver with an arc running down the console. It's dominated by Infiniti InTouch, a twin-screen system with a touchscreen and a handful of redundant hard keys.
The engine lineup includes three turbocharged engines and a hybrid. The base engine is a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Next up is a pair of twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6s. In base form, the 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. All are mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission.
We have only driven the 400-hp and hybrid powertrains. The Red Sport 400's twin-turbo V-6 is a delight. It provides willing, easy power and lets out a muffled howl when pushed. Power is accessible across the rev range, making highway passing a breeze. Zero to 60 mph comes in about 4.5 seconds. If you are looking for reasons to buy the Q50 Red Sport, this engine is it.
The Hybrid feels quick as well, with very well-coordinated throttle response and 360 combined 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 that effectively smooths out both shift shock and transitions from one power source to the other.
The Hybrid earns 28 mpg city, 34 highway, 30 combined. The thirstiest Q50—a 400-hp Red Sport with all-wheel drive—manages 19/26/22 mpg.
On the road, the Q50 is a fairly close match for its sport sedan rivals. The car stays fairly flat in corners, has quick response from either of its two steering systems, and rides fairly comfortably. Pushed hard on a canyon road, however, it doesn't really want to take a set in turns and it shimmies under heavy braking. Even the Red Sport 400 suffers from these issues, and we find that its tires, though large, don't provide enough grip. For those wondering, the Red Sport 400 is not in the same league as the BMW M3.
Infiniti offers some unique technologies meant to improve handling. The "steer-by-wire" Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) offers nice heft and quick reactions in the Sport+ mode, but lacks some of the feel of systems with a mechanical connection.
The Dynamic Digital Suspension (DDS) uses adjustable dampers that get stiffer in Sport or Sport+ modes. The ride is firm but livable in the Standard mode—as it should be in a sport sedan—and the Sport modes make it a bit jiggly while helping to reduce body roll through corners.
Q50 comfort, safety, and features
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. In back, passengers have better space than the class average, and trunk space is an impressive, maxing out at 18 cubic feet.
The 2016 Infiniti Q50 offers plenty of safety technologies, including surround-view cameras, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and forward-collision warning systems with automatic emergency braking. Complete safety ratings are not yet available, but the Q50 has performed well in limited testing.
A total of seven trim levels are offered, plus rear- or all-wheel drive. The model lineup includes 2.0t, 2.0t Premium, the new 2.0t sport, 3.0t Premium, 3.0t Sport, Red Sport 400, and Hybrid models. The Sport and Red Sport models feature the Digital Dynamic Suspension, larger brakes, 19-inch wheels, leather sport seats, aluminum pedals, and magnesium shift paddles.
2017 INFINITI Q50
The 2017 Infiniti Q50 has flowing, organic lines and sensual, creased surfaces.
The sensuality of the bigger Q70 sedan is translated to and amped up on the Infiniti Q50, especially at the intersection of exaggerated curves and surfaces behind its rear doors. The boomerang brackets at the grille resemble those on the Lexus 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 coefficient of drag is a low 0.26—about as slippery through the air as a Nissan GT-R.
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.
Though larger than some of its main competitors, the Q50's proportions manage to make it look more compact from a few paces back. The overall look is dramatic and it appears as though it will age well.
The Q50's interior features a sweeping theme that cordons off the controls to the driver with an arc running down the console. The asymmetry helps keep the look sporty and cockpit-like, and the cockpit surprises with fine details up close. 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 as well. 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.
From our base rating, we give the Q50 two points for its especially attractive body and another point for its good-looking exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
2017 INFINITI Q50
None of the various Infiniti Q50 sedans lacks for power; the Red Sport 400 is a rouged-up rocket.
The Infiniti Q50 competes with some accomplished sport sedans, like the BMW 3-Series, Cadillac ATS, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
On the road, it is a fairly close match for those cars. The car stays fairly flat in corners, has quick response from either of its two steering systems, and rides fairly comfortably.
Push the Q50 on a canyon road or a racetrack, however, and its flaws become apparent. When nearing the limits of grip, it doesn't really want to take a set in a turn, though it is stable at higher speeds. Under heavy braking, however, that stability goes out the window and the car shimmies as it slows. Infiniti's brakes, even the larger sport brakes, also aren't up to the rigors of track duty, fading too quickly.
Still, we give the Q50 a 7 in our new ratings system, adding a point for generally agile handling and willing power from any engine. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Red Sport 400 sounds like a BMW M3 competitor and it's just 25 horsepower shy of that car. However, like other Q50's, it doesn't have track-ready hardware, despite the fact that it comes with big tires, 245/40R19s up front and 265/32R19s out back. They are Dunlap SP Sport Maxx 050 summer run-flat tires that don't provide a lot of grip. With all that power on tap, it is easy to break the rear tires loose in situations like punching it for passing or adding a bit of throttle in a turn. A grippier tire would aid this car's traction and handling.
Buyers can add some features meant to improve the handling. Infiniti offers a Dynamic Digital Suspension that has its pluses and minuses. It uses dampers with electronically controlled valves that provide a stiffer ride in Sport or Sport+ modes. The ride is firm but livable in the Standard mode—as it should be in a sport sedan—and the Sport modes make it a bit jiggly while helping to reduce body roll through corners.
Speaking of modes, the Q50's Drive Mode Selector offers a ridiculous total of more than 300 personalized settings that alter the engine, transmission, electric power steering, optional Direct Adaptive Steering and Dynamic Digital Suspension, and the electronic stability control. Our advice is to try the various settings, personalize them down to one that you like, and just use it.
Infiniti's "steer-by-wire" Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) is also worthy of note. Infiniti boasts that it can respond faster than a mechanical system because there are no mechanical linkages, and it is very customizable. In fact, it is available in seven settings.
Even within the Standard and Sport+ modes, the DAS can be adjusted for weight and responsiveness. In the Standard mode it feels much like any other electric-assist power steering system. While it filters out some bumps that can jerk the steering wheel, it also lacks some of the feel that can make steering satisfying.
In the Sport+ mode DAS does many of the things you'd want from a steering system. It becomes heavy and slower (read: stable) at highway speeds, wants to return to center, and gets quicker at low speeds. In fact, the ratio varies between 12:1 and more than 20:1. It is also almost too quick at low speeds, and darty and too weighty on the highway. Some of these issues can be mitigated by simply choosing the Sport or Standard modes instead of Sport+.
The base steering is a rack-based electric-assist power steering system with a 15:1 ratio in the Red Sport. It is noticeably lighter than the steer-by-wire system but feels a bit more natural.
Power and more power
The engine lineup includes a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and a pair of twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6s, both part of the VR family that replaces the aging, but still competitive, VQ naturally aspirated V-6. In base form, the 3.0 produces 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. In the Red Sport 400, it churns out 400 hp at 6,400 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque all the way from 1,600 to 5,200 rpm.
The differences involve the turbochargers. On the 300-hp version, the turbos spin out 8.7 psi of boost. Turbine speed sensors on the 400-hp version allow the turbos to spin faster and create 14.7 psi of boost.
Of the turbo engines, we have only driven the 400-horsepower VR and it is a delight. It provides willing, easy power and lets out a muffled howl when pushed. Power is accessible across the rev range, making highway passing a breeze. Zero to 60 mph takes less than five seconds, probably around 4.8 with rear-wheel drive and as low as perhaps 4.5 with all-wheel drive. If you are looking for reasons to buy the Q50 Red Sport, this engine is it.
All engines are mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode and available shift paddles. The transmission provides nice throttle-blipped downshifts and remarkably little driveline shock.
The Hybrid is quite quick as well, with 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. It 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 it) 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 30 mpg combined (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 feels "muddy," but if you stop harder it's more precise.
2017 INFINITI Q50
Comfort & Quality
The Infiniti Q50's cabin is quiet, with great front seats and good room for the class.
The Q50 is on par with its German rivals for comfort and isolation. Engine noise is well-muted, almost too much so for a sport sedan. The quality of the interior materials is also worthy of its luxurious competitors.
Space is generally better than the somewhat smaller cars with which the Q50 competes. For that reason, we rate the Q50's comfort and quality at 7, giving it a point for interior materials and the comfortable front seats. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The front 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. The Sport models come with extendable thigh bolsters for the driver, and they help provide long-range comfort for taller pilots.
Head room is limited in back, and we'll venture to guess that most 6-footers will be rubbing the headliner. Leg room can also be tight, though it is pretty good for the class.
Trunk space is a large 18 cubic feet in non-hybrid Q50s, while the Hybrid loses 3.9 cubic feet to the battery pack. 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.
2017 INFINITI Q50
The Q50 has incomplete crash test scores, but it has done well in limited testing. A wealth of active safety technologies inspires confidence.
The 2017 Infiniti Q50 has not been crash-tested yet, and the 2016 model had incomplete crash tests, though it fared well in limited testing. The 2016 Q50 earned top five-star ratings from NHTSA for the side crash and rollover tests, but it wasn't subjected to the frontal crash test and therefore doesn't have an overall score.
In IIHS testing, the 2016 Q50 earned the top "Good" ratings in the moderate front overlap, side, rollover, and rear crash tests. It also earned a "Superior" rating for its front crash prevention system. However, the Q50 was not subjected to the small front overlap test and therefore can't earn the IIHS's Top Safety Pick+ score.
With those incomplete scores we can't give the Q50 any extra crash test points in our new rating system, but we do give it a point for readily available active safety features, bringing the total to 6. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Standard and available safety features
Standard safety features include dual front airbags, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, traction control, electronic stability control, and a rearview camera.
Rear park assist is available, and most of the active safety features are offered in two packages. The Technology package comes with auto-leveling adaptive headlights, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, front pre-crash seat belts, blind spot intervention, and lane departure warning and lane departure prevention with active lane control.
A Driver Assistance package adds forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing wipers, surround-view cameras, blind-spot monitors, and backup collision intervention with rear cross-traffic alert.
Active Lane Control makes it easy to glide along in your lane on the highway, with seemingly no small adjustments needed for the pavement surface or crosswinds. The system uses a camera system to fine-tune your lane placement in an oddly unobtrusive way. Strangely, 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.
Forward-collision warnings alert the driver of risks far ahead of what he/she might otherwise see. It does so by sensing the second vehicle ahead, and warning the driver visually and audibly, while also tightening the seat belt.
2017 INFINITI Q50
The 2017 Infinti Q50 is very well equipped, but some may be put off by the twin-screen infotainment system.
Infiniti offers the Q50 in seven trim levels, each with rear- or all-wheel drive. The model lineup includes 2.0t, 2.0t Premium, the new 2.0t Sport, 3.0t Premium, 3.0t Sport, Red Sport 400, and Hybrid models.
We've given the Q50 a score of 7. It comes with good standard features and can be fitted with some cutting-edge features, but its twin-screen infotainment system is neither easy to use nor particularly dazzling in design. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base 2.0t model comes standard with leatherette upholstery, dual-zone auto climate control, an intelligent key, Infiniti's dual-screen InTouch infotainment system, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, LED headlights and fog lights, a tilt-and-telescope steering column, and 17-inch wheels. Newly added this year are auto-dimming rearview mirrors, a universal garage door opener, and rain-sensing wipers.
To that Premium models add a heated steering wheel, a power moonroof, a universal garage-door opener, and a 16-speaker Bose Centerpoint audio system.
Sports and Hybrids
The 2.0t Sport adds 19-inch wheels with summer performance run-flat tires, magnesium shift paddles, aluminum-accented pedals, leather upholstery, sport front bucket seats, memory seating, a 60/40 folding rear seat, and larger brakes (14-inch rotors up front, 13.8 inches in the rear).
The 3.0t Sport model also gets Infiniti's adjustable Digital Dynamic Suspension.
The Red Sport 400 is equipped the same way as the Sport models, but it adds red brake calipers and the rear-drive version also comes with staggered tire sizes.
Hybrid models feature 19-inch wheels; leather upholstery; the surround-view camera system with moving object detection; a universal garage door opener; a power-adjustable heated steering wheel; heated front seats; memory for the driver's seat, outside mirrors, and steering wheel; a navigation system; blind-spot warning and intervention; backup collision intervention with rear cross-traffic alert; forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking; and a sport suspension.
Infiniti Q50 options
Options are lumped into a few large packages.
A new Design package for the V-6 Sport models comes with quilted semi-aniline leather seating with contrast stitching, maple wood accents, unique black headliner and pillars, and dark chrome interior trim.
The Technology package adds auto-leveling adaptive headlights, high beam assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, lane-departure warnings, and lane-keep assist.
A Premium Plus package adds auto-dimming outside mirrors; memory for the steering wheel, driver’s seat, and outside mirrors; power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; a navigation system, Infiniti InTouch Services with six months of safety, security, and convenience services, as well as real-time traffic information; Adaptive Shift Control with navigation synchronization; 60/40-split, fold-down rear seats with center armrest and pass-through; driver’s seat power lumbar adjustment; a heated steering wheel; heated front seats; and remote engine start.
A Driver Assistance package comes with forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, rain-sensing wipers, surround-view cameras, blind-spot monitors, and backup collision intervention with rear cross-traffic alert.
Infiniti's Direct Adaptive Steering system is a stand-alone option.
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.
InTouch, too much
The Infiniti InTouch infotainment system is the most controversial aspect of the interior. It consists of a lower 7.0-inch touchscreen and an upper 8.0-inch screen. 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, though some convenience features, like the heated steering wheel, require going into a proper screen. Oddly, destinations are chosen on the lower screen, but they display on the upper one.
In theory, those dual monitors could either reduce complexity or increase it. 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. Despite its popularity on this system and Cadillac's CUE, force feedback also doesn't provide much information outside the fact that you've touched something, but not what it was.
2017 INFINITI Q50
The 2.0-liter turbo delivers 26 mpg combined, while V-6 are thirstier and the hybrid tops out at 30 mpg combined.
The 2017 Infiniti Q50 is offered with three turbocharged engines and one hybrid powertrain. Since the versions we like best are rated 25 mpg combined or below, we've assigned it a score of 5. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Fuel economy ratings for the 2.0t models, which feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, are 23 mpg city, 31 highway, 26 combined with rear-wheel drive, and 22/28/24 mpg with AWD.
Two twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 are available. The 300-hp version is rated at 19/28/23 mpg with rear-drive and 19/27/22 mpg with AWD (though most of those numbers fall by 1 mpg for the Sport model). The 400-hp V-6 is rated at 20/27/22 mpg with rear-wheel drive and 19/26/22 mpg with AWD.
The Q50 Hybrid costs a few thousand dollars extra, but it delivers satisfying performance as well as thrifty fuel economy. With its 3.5-liter V-6 and 50-kw electric motor system, the Hybrid earns ratings of 28/34/30 mpg with rear-wheel drive or 27/31/28 mpg with all-wheel drive.
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 improve ratings above those from the EPA, though in daily use it can be somewhat annoying.