Infiniti Q50 2.0T: Review

So why would you buy an Infiniti Q50 over the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class norm? Infiniti rather hopes the very fact it’s none of the above might tempt you to at least step over the threshold of one of its plush showrooms. Once there though is there any reason for the exec saloon buying PHer to progress to the test drive?

Stylish, comfy and stacked with gizmos
Stylish, comfy and stacked with gizmos
Given the most potent Q50 in the range is suffixed by the dread ‘hybrid’ badge you might think not. Add suspicion regarding the ‘steer by wire’ electronic helm (there is a mechanical failsafe) and you might think there’s good reason to go scuttling back into the manly embrace of your favourite German. Or perhaps bide your time until the Jaguar XE.

Like the Q50 wasn’t already facing an uphill struggle then.

In such circumstances it pays to get a little help from your friends, though in this instance the Q50’s biggest fillip actually comes from a direct rival – the Mercedes C-Class. The Q50 2.0T here gets its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four from Mercedes’ latest modular powerplant range, as featured in transverse form (M270) in the A- and B-Class and longitudinal (M274) in the C-Class and beyond. And it’s a cracking motor, technical details of which can be found on Automotive Engineer if you’re of a geeky mindset.

Strongest selling point? It's not German...
Strongest selling point? It's not German...
Helping hand
Peak torque from 1,250rpm is astounding for a petrol engine but despite that it feels rather more refined and linear than the equivalents from the VW group or BMW, both of whom seem determined to make their petrol engines feel as much like diesels as possible. The 1,703kg kerb weight means the Q50 is a fair old lump for a 2.0-litre to haul around and it appears physically huge compared with the German equivalents. Despite that there’s a sprightly feel to it and a superbly refined cruising ability to rival even the new C-Class.

So it’s quiet, comfortable and a very soothing place to spend time. Hang on though, this is PH. Since when did quiet, comfortable and soothing rank as important attributes? In the absence of a production version of the Q50 Eau Rouge it’s the Infiniti’s major trump card thus far, sadly. And don’t hold your breath on that enticing sounding GT-R engined monster to appear any time soon, the example that’s been doing the rounds more a rolling show car built as a one-off demonstrator rather than true production intent prototype.

Merc-built turbo four-cylinder is a cracker
Merc-built turbo four-cylinder is a cracker
Back to reality then and the sense that the Q50 trades heavily on appealing to technophiles, its signature dual touchscreen centre console enlivened on this car by an expensive array of additional gizmos. Seemingly these are geared towards a) providing you with a fully connected and technology heavy experience and b) semi-autonomous driver aids to keep you from crashing while you indulge in it. In theory this would permit you to successfully to travel between two junctions of the M25 without touching the steering wheel thanks to the radar controlled Intelligent Cruise Control, Lane Departure Prevention, Blind Spot Intervention, Forward Emergency Braking and Predictive Forward Collision Warning system but we don’t know anyone stupid enough to attempt such a thing...

Virtual reality
Such are the ‘benefits’ of a fully electronic steering system which, in normal conditions, ‘interprets’ inputs at the wheel, crunches the numbers and then delivers what it considers the appropriate steering angle to the front axle. And if that sounds like a recipe for steering feel as authentic as the force-feedback wheel on your games console … you’d be right!

A new face in the exec saloon pack
A new face in the exec saloon pack
Infiniti is the first manufacturer to take the plunge with such technology and it probably won’t be the last. But from the weird weighting and inconsistent ‘gearing’ to total absence of feedback and, worse, ‘helpful’ nudges of correction it’s about as anti-PH as it’s possible to get. Stick to the entry-level diesel and it’s thankfully consigned to the options list, a more appealing sounding hydraulic set-up in its place. Weirdly for all this tech the Q50 still uses passive dampers – flashy sounding Dual Flow Path units at the back – and pukka double wishbone front/multi-link rear suspension set up with a nice balance between waft and control.

To be fair to Infiniti the Q50 in this form patently isn’t aimed at those for whom steering feel matters. Its dream customer probably spends more time reading Stuff than PH, has the latest smartphone, a really big telly on the wall of their suitably modernist home and isn’t romantically tied to the old German-dominated order. Good luck to ’em in that case because there are probably plenty of people whose driving world makes this more relevant. In the meantime call us when you’ve got a production ready version of that one with theGT-R engine!

1,991cc 4-cyl turbocharged
Transmission: 7-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 211@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 258@1,250-3,500rpm
0-62mph:  7.2 sec
Top speed: 152mph
Weight: 1,703kg
MPG: 43.5 (NEDC combined)
CO2: 151g/km
Price: £34,125 (Before options, £41,545 as tested including ‘Visibility pack’ £1,040, ‘Safety Shield pack’ £2,080, ‘Multimedia pack’ £2,760, metallic paint £660 and electric glass sunroof £880)  

[Sources: Automotive Engineer]


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Comments (42) Join the discussion on the forum

  • GravelMachineGun 06 Nov 2014

    I really do like this, makes a nice change from ze Germans.

  • kambites 06 Nov 2014

    Well it's better looking than the German competition, but that's about the only thing about it which appeals on paper.

    I guess it's not really a car that's aimed at the UK market, where for some reason even luxury cars have to be "sporty". It will probably do well in countries where people expect their execs to be luxurious.

    Edited by kambites on Thursday 6th November 12:25

  • soad 06 Nov 2014

    Only 211bhp?!

  • Beer Man 06 Nov 2014

    It's good that it's not one of the Germans but would I choose it over the Jag XE which I should be in the market for when it comes out?

    Not a chance.

  • unpc 06 Nov 2014

    A lot of noise is being made about steer by wire and rightly so as this scares the st out of me, but very little about this autonomous braking malarkey. I've been involved in one of these projects that uses twin forward facing cameras in the windscreen to detect hazards but sun load can make the cameras overheat and they shut down.

    I just wonder who then is at fault in an accident when your autonomous systems fail (and they will)? Where do car companies legally stand by reducing the driver's input from his control of the car? I can see this becoming a massive can of worms.

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