- Steers itself
- Steers itself
Infiniti has expanded the range of engine options for its Q50 saloon. A new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – the same as you’ll find in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, joins the flagship hybrid model and 2.2-litre diesel.
But does this £31,775 motor address the shortcomings of the other engine options, and is it worth investing in? Find out in our road test review.
The Q50 has always been an attractive beast, with aggressive, sporty styling the dominant theme. Highlights include the large front grille, beastly-looking headlights that almost squint in disdain at the road ahead and muscular creases that ripple from the bonnet to the vehicle’s sides. The rear is a little less adventurous, particularly when viewed dead on, but the large lower bumper and twin exhausts betray the car’s sporty nature.
The Q50’s interior delivers a premium feel. It uses a decent mix of materials and textures, most of which are pleasant to the touch. We can’t say we’re fans of the slightly off-black colour finish on the steering wheel and dashboard, however – it makes these elements of the car look as if they’ve aged slightly in the sun.
The pair of touchscreen displays in the centre console will appeal to geeks, though true nerds will wonder why the top-most screen has a far lower resolution, and a far less glossy screen treatment than the lovely piano-black screen beneath it. Hyper geeks will long for the huge 17-inch display found in the Tesla Model S.
The Infiniti Q50 gives us no reason for complaints in the practicality department. Its door bins are a little bit on the small side, but there’s a decent amount of storage in the centre cubby and there are two good-sized cupholders between the front seats. The rear has plenty of space for taller passengers, too, both in terms of head and legroom.
Performance & Handling
The Infiniti Q50 2.0t petrol offers performance somewhere between the slow but steady diesel and the incredibly rapid hybrid models. The 1,991cc turbocharged engine produces a healthy 211 PS (208hp) with a meaty, diesel-like 350Nm of torque. That’s more than the same engine produces in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (184hp and 300Nm).
The Q50 isn’t that much quicker than its Merc counterpart, however. Equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission, it’ll do 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds with a top speed of 152mph. The Merc, for reference, does the same sprint in 7.5, maxing out at 147. An equivalent diesel Q50, meanwhile, manages 62mph in 8.5 seconds.
The Q50 petrol goes about its business with little fuss. While the diesel grumbles and rattles, the petrol is buttery smooth, quiet, and only loses 50Nm of torque to the oil burner.
The Infiniti Q50 handles well for the most part, and there’s lots of scope to personalise its the way it drives via one of its two touch-screen interfaces. Drivers can increase the throttle sensitivity, steering response and more.
Its suspension is generally a little on the firm side, but it soaks up bumps reasonably well and never feels as if it’s being thrown off its stride. It also grips well through bends, staying flat as it corners, although it doesn’t inspire as much confidence as a BMW 3 Series in this regard. The Q50’s steering takes some getting used to – there’s little or no feedback through the steering wheel – a consequence of its unusual, computerised drive-by-wire steering system.
This steering system has its advantages and disadvantages. When equipped with the Direct Adaptive Steering and Active Trace Control, it’ll actually steer itself around bends, staying in its lane with no driver intervention. Paired with the adaptive cruise control, it’s arguably the closest thing you can find to a self-driving car. However that self-steering system is prone to interfering with your own inputs if you’ve forgotten to switch it off, which can feel very unsettling around faster corners.
Economy & environment
Infiniti has prioritised power over efficiency in the Q50, which is hardly surprising given the fact it’s rather heavy. The car, in Sport trim, weighs 1,703kg, whereas a C-Class tips the scales at 1,445kg. Unsurprisingly the Daimler-produced engine finds it more of a struggle to pull the Q50’s weight. Here it’ll return 44.8mpg on the combined cycle, which is 11mpg less than you’ll get in a Mercdes C-Class. The Q50 spits CO2 at a rate of 146g/km, which is significantly more than the 123g/km in the Merc.
Equipment & Value
The Infiniti Q50 isn’t cheap – this petrol version retails for £31,755 in Premium trim, or £24,125 in Sport trim. The ntry-level BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C Class can be had for £23,500 and £26,855, respectively.
That said, you do get a lot of standard equipment with a Q50. Premium cars come with hill start assist, rain sensing wipers, cruise control, speed limiter, 17-inch wheels, heated body-coloured mirrors with built-in LED turn signals, LED fog lights front and rear, scratch-resistant self-healing paint, dual touch-screens, Bluetooth, voice recognition system, remote keyless entry, rear view camera and front and rear parking sensors.
The Infiniti Q50 achieved a maximum five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests, scoring well for both adult and child occupant tests.
Choose the fancy steer-by-wire system (with three stages of redundancy, you’ll be pleased to note) and you also get Active Lane Control, which monitors your lane position when driving on dual-carriageways or motorways and keeps you from wandering into danger – even if you nod off.
Unlike most systems, this works with the steering, not by braking individual wheels. Forward Collision Warning is also available, which monitors not only the car in front, but the one ahead of it too.
The Infiniti Q50 is a very good alternative to its well-established German rivals. It looks great, is comfortable and is absolutely swimming in technology.
Some of that technology works in its favour, making the driving experience a safer, more enjoyable one (who doesn’t want a car that basically drives itself?). However some of that tech can occasionally get in the way and you’ll have to do a lot of experimenting to figure out what settings are right for you.
The new 2.0-litre petrol engine is a welcome addition to the range, boasting excellent refinement and power. That said, there’s no avoiding the fact you’ll get similar performance and better fuel economy in an equivalent Mercedes-Benz C-Class.