2014 Infiniti Q50 turbo road test review review
INFINITI showed off the latest addition to its Q50 range, a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, in the foothills above Melbourne last week.
Joining the diesel and hybrid in a now complete offering, the petrol version cut a fine picture, first through the early-morning city traffic and then on to the beautiful countryside, boasting world-famous vineyards and accentuated by quaint homesteads and sleepy towns.
Available in three trims, the Q50 petrol is offered with an automatic transmission only and with a price and inclusions that will certainly stir up a few competitors.
Infiniti is expecting this version to be the volume seller for them, reflecting the habits of this segment, as they push that toe in the water firmly into the sand.
Like its diesel and hybrid cousins, the interior of the Q50 petrol has luxury firmly in its sights. A two-wave dash, with its accommodating layout and simple but well put together switchgear, sets the tone for a cabin that is easy to get used to.
Double touch-screens - an 20cm sat-nav system and 17.7cm tablet-style infotainment system - dominate the space but not leerily so; their state-of-the-art technology and graphics in tune with the manufacturer's promise of quality at a competitive price. The steering is nice to the touch, solid and comfortable under hand without any of those annoying misplaced bumps, while the controls on the wheel are conveniently located and tidy.
Cup holders are positioned for a European audience but are big enough and easy to use, while there is plenty of other cabin storage to take care of your incidentals.
There is an over-riding feeling of space and there is plenty of room for front seat passengers to stretch out thanks to the clever styling of the dash, and enough too for taller occupants in the back, provided those in the front row are not too greedy.
There is great support under thigh, in the small of the back and across the shoulders but it comes up short at the sides, which is usually nice to have when you are negotiating twisty bends. The boot is shallow but large - it certainly seems bigger than its noted 500 litres - and you can create more load space by dropping the 60:40 seats.
On the road
The 2.0-litre Daimler-sourced turbocharged four, paired with an electronically controlled seven-speed automatic transmission is a tight and pleasurable unit moving the Q50 with little fuss over varied roads during the launch.
It feels nicely balanced and firmly planted and is able to gather speed with ease. It can be persuaded to attack corners with great enthusiasm, and is energetic from standstill with brakes sharp and effective.
This Q50 is a pretty heavy car and you can feel that sometimes when it gathers itself a bit after a series of sharp corners or at the foot of a climb but it is infrequent enough to not soil the overall experience. There is a fair bit of road noise which was hard to ignore on the secondary roads, with the entry GT model on 17-inch tyres faring the best of the three.
The direct adaptive steering, which uses a world-first electronic steer-by-wire technology, can take a bit of getting used to but perhaps only because there is no vibration from the steering wheel.
What do you get?
Infiniti offers the Q50 with inclusions that befit its premium status, with even the entry model GT able to go toe-to-toe with much more expensive rivals.
The GT comes with 17-inch alloys, leather upholstery with electric front seat adjustment, Intelligent Key smart access and memory, LED headlights with integrated daytime running lights, advanced climate control, drive mode selector, digital radio, dual touch-screens and Bluetooth audio streaming and mobile connectivity.
The mid-range Q50 S adds 18-inch wheels, direct-adaptive steering with active lane control, paddle shifters, electric sunroof and a Bose 14-speaker audio system while opting for the top-of-the-range S Premium will also get you an incredible suite of innovative safety features, 19-inch alloys, intelligent cruise control and lower anchors and tethers for kids.
The InTouch infotainment system can be paired with smartphone apps. It can read your emails and Facebook entries while you are on the go and you can even, for example, load a route for a complicated journey while still in the office onto the system using Google Maps and the "Send to car" option.
Official figures put the Q50 petrol at 7.3litres/100km, much more than the Mercedes-Benz that sports the same engine because, claim Infiniti, it is much heavier. Our test run was a lot higher but it did take in a number of climbs, country roads and far from average speeds. We look forward to seeing what it can do during a week with us.
The Infiniti Q50 petrol has the on-road nous, interior space and technological savvy to appeal. We especially like how the use of on-trend technology has been seamlessly sown into the fabric of this car including the steer by wire direct adaptive steering system with a drive mode selector that benefits from being highly personalised.
This is a car with an excellent memory and is able to store the preferences of four people on Infiniti's advanced intelligence key and recall them when needed. We are not just talking seat and steering wheel preferences here but also dynamic performance and safety features. The InTuition system can also remember your favourite communication, entertainment and information functions, including screen displays, shortcuts even whether you prefer an analogue or digital clock display. It will even greet you by name.
As it is always in these cases, opinion on the exterior of the Q50 is split but we like its sporty and athletic stance and swooping lines. It is as Infiniti, said, their best looking car in a number of years.
In the Q50 Infiniti has a range of cars that can both stand up to and surpass some competitors.
Its challenge lies more in expanding their dealer network and gaining the confidence of an always sceptical Australian market. But even more than that they will need to find a way to differentiate the Infiniti brand - in the eyes of the public that is - from the overreaching Nissan umbrella because the feeling of exclusivity is one of the fundamental tenets of buying a luxury car.
What matters most
What we liked: On-trend technology, quality inclusions, price, an easy drive.
What we'd like to see: Optional safety package for entry model, side bolstering in seats, more brand awareness.
Warranty and servicing: Four-year/100,000km warranty with capped-price servicing over five years. Intervals are annual or 25,000km, average price is $746.
Model: Infiniti Q50 2.0l.
Details: Four-door rear-wheel drive medium luxury sedan.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injection turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 155kW at 5500rpm with a peak torque of 350Nm at 1200-4000rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 7.3 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line: GT from $50,990; S from $56,900; SPremium from $60,500. Drive-away price $55,900 for GT sedan from October 1 until December