For the latest model year, the Q50 receives a new model named 2.0t Sport, and an available Design Package.
Building on the G37's strong points - ample power, responsive handling and strong value - the Q50 is positioned somewhat more upscale so as to more directly rival the German competition. Helping to signal the new role are fresh design cues adapted from the automaker's larger Q70 sedan.
Viewed head-on, the Q50's front end features a tapered, very vertical front fascia with a gigantic Infiniti badge centered on its grille. From the side, the car appears more curvaceous than before, and its distinctive C-pillar kink points to the future of Infiniti's styling language. As per Infiniti tradition, the rear end is distinguished by a tail trunk lid with an integrated spoiler and twin exhaust pipes.
If the Q50 strikes you as particularly streamlined, don't chalk it up to a stylistic tromp l'oeil - Infiniti says the sedan boasts an impressively slippery 0.26 coefficient of drag and features no front or rear lift.
Inside, the Q50 follows the dual-cowl styling of its predecessor, although the switchgear on the center stack is much more high-tech. In place of most of the conventional buttons found in the G37, there's a new Infiniti InTouch infotainment system that takes the form of two touch screens that display system, navigation (when equipped) and connectivity info.
InTouch comes pre-loaded with a selection of vehicle-centric apps, and owners have the option of downloading, updating and synching personal apps through their smartphones. The system also integrates conventional controls for HVAC functions.
The interior makes extensive use of genuine aluminum and it will offer maple wood as an extra. Leatherette seating surfaces is standard, while leather, heated trim and sports seats are on the options list.
Though the Q50's 112.2-inch wheelbase is identical to that of the G37, overall length has grown by five inches (to 188.3 inches). Rear seat legroom is improved, and the trunk now measures a voluminous 18 cubic inches.
On the tech front, the Q50 offers numerous cameras, including a 360-degree-style around view screen, intelligent cruise control, forward collision warning, forward emergency braking and back-up collision intervention, among other goodies.
Under the Hood
The Q50 sedan is available with four different engine options, three of which feature turbocharging.
The entry-level option is a Mercedes-Benz-sourced, two-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder producing 208 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 258lb-ft of torque from 1,500 RPM. This engine is also available with auto stop-start, a first for the Q50 line.
The Q50 is also available with two twin-turbocharged V6s. Both are variants of the same 3.0L "VR" V6, but are tuned for different power outputs. The base tune produces 300 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 295lb-ft of torque from 1,600 to 5,200 RPM.
Installed in the Red Sport model, the higher-output variant makes 400 horsepower and 350lb-ft of torque over the same engine speed range.
The remaining powertrain option is a carry-over from the previous model—a 360-horsepower hybrid. Comprising a 302-horsepower, 3.5L V6 and a 50 kW electric motor producing and additional 67 horsepower, it's one of the more powerful hybrid offerings in the premium segment.
All available engines—including the hybrid system—are paired to a revised seven-speed automatic transmission.
Underneath, the Q50's multi-link suspension carries over, although revised tuning provides quicker responses. Rear-wheel-drive is standard, while those in northern climates will appreciate the winter-friendly, traction-enhancing all-wheel-drive option.
For those seeking more focused handling dynamics, a firmer sport suspension with 19-inch alloy wheels (instead of the standard 17s) is optional, as are available four-piston front caliper brakes.
The Q50 comes standard with a conventional rack-and-pinion steering system, but buyers can opt for a steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering that electrically transmits driver inputs to the wheels. A backup mechanical system is included in case of any glitches. The system is able to react more quickly than is possible with a normal mechanical system, and it also allows the driver to tailor steering effort and speed to suit his or her tastes. However it's worth nothing that the setup has drawn criticism for artificial-seeming feedback and an anodyne overall feel.
Uniquely, Direct Adaptive Steering uses a camera located above the rear-view mirror to read the road ahead and make small steering adjustments to compensate for road imperfections, weather conditions or unintended lane drift - marking another step towards the advent of autonomous vehicle technology.
Trim Level Breakdown
The Q50 comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, LED headlights, LED taillights, a proximity key, push-button start, power-adjustable front seats, leatherette seating upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo system with two USB inputs and satellite radio, eight-inch upper and seven-inch lower touchscreen displays, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, cruise control and 17-inch alloy wheels. A moonroof is optional.
The Q50 Premium adds heated front seats, a sunroof, a 14-speaker Bose audio system and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with a HomeLink universal transponder. Leather can be specified as an option.
The Q50 Sport brings a tauter suspension, upsized, ventilated brake rotors clamped by four-pistons up front and two pistons at the rear, 19-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, leather upholstery, solid-magnesium paddle shifters and a more aggressive front fascia.
Four options package are available for the Premium and Sport models.
The Navigation Package brings (surprise!) a navigation system along with real-time traffic and weather information via SiriusXM travel link and Infiniti Connection concierge services. The Spare Tire Package adds to those features with - logically enough - a temporary spare tire and jack.
The Deluxe Touring Package requires the previous two packages and includes Direct Adaptive Steering, an Around View 360-degree camera system with front and rear parking sonar, rain-sensing windshield wipers, maple wood trim, memory functionality for the driver's seat, mirrors and steering wheel settings, a power tilt and telescopic steering column, auto-dimming exterior mirrors with reverse tilt-down feature and 60/40 split folding rear seats.
The Performance Wheel package brings 19-inch forged aluminum-alloy wheels mounted on summer tires.
Finally, the Technology Package builds on that content with (deep breath) adaptive, auto-leveling headlights, High Beam Assist, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Warning and Blind Spot Intervention, Back-up Collision intervention, Intelligent Cruise Control, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention with Active Lane Control, an advanced climate control system and an Eco Pedal that can be configured for duller throttle response and potentially improved fuel economy.
All Q50 models come standard with dual front, front-side and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
The Q50 can also be optioned with advanced safety technologies that will warn the driver of impending front or rear collisions and, if necessary, apply the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of the crash. A separate system alerts the driver if the Q50 begins to wander into an adjacent lane and can actually apply slight steering inputs to help keep the sedan on track.
Like the rest of the small sport sedan segment, the Q50 is gunning for the well-rounded and hot-selling BMW 3 Series sedan. It's also gunning for athletic models like the Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS, and Infiniti likely wouldn't be adverse to stealing sales away from the Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class, either.