Upscale Compact Luxury Sedan
Completely redesigned in 2014 and unchanged for 2015, the Infiniti Q50 is as stylish and technology-filled as any upscale, compact luxury sedan on the market. And, it had better be to top the reputation and popularity of the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Clean Fleet Report got behind the wheel for a week of spirited driving in the 2015 Infiniti Q50S. Running on premium unleaded, our rear-wheel drive Q50S was powered by Infiniti’s smooth naturally aspirated 3.7L DOHC 24-valve V-6 with sequential multi-point fuel injection, putting out 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission offered is the 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters, Sport mode and manual downshift rev matching.
The Q50 is EPA rated at 20 City / 30 Highway / 23 Combined. In 357 miles of 65-percent/35-percent highway/city driving we averaged 24.9 mpg, and 31 mpg on the highway. Had we not been
pushing the car to see if we could do better than Infiniti’s stated, 0 – 60 time of 5.3 seconds, we easily could have exceed our fuel economy numbers. But heck, it is nice that a car of this quality and performance is rated at 30 mpg on the highway. C’mon, how are you going to keep your foot out of it when the temptation to let ‘er rip is begging you go for it!
The Q50 has a whopping five selectable drive modes of Standard, Sport, Eco, Snow and a customizable Personal. I never quite figured the need for the Personal setting, but maybe more time with the car would have shown it to be beneficial. I checked-out the Snow setting, though not because snow is expected anytime soon at the beach here in Southern California. It was pretty obvious how it would work if your tires were slipping and sliding; the accelerator has a delay of about three seconds, then the power comes on slowly to keep your tires planted. So that leaves Standard for anytime driving, Eco for long highway segments and Sport for zipping around twisties and otherwise spirited driving.
My pattern of starting in either Standard or Sport delivered smooth acceleration with excellent pedal response at any speed and rpm from the 3.7L. The seven-speed automatic, geared to get a respectable 30 mpg highway rating for a 347 hp car, can be placed in Sport mode or the paddle shifters offer options to help you forget about trying to be fuel frugal. I also found that under some circumstances going from Eco or Standard to Sport was more effective than blipping the paddle shifters. The twin exhaust gives a very pleasant rumble that is not harsh sounding like the very recognizable sound of its predecessor, the Infiniti G37.
Ed note: The top of the line in the Q50 lineup includes a hybrid model that can bump up fuel economy up to 29 City/36 Highway while carrying forward with the features John covers in this review. The Q50 Hybrid comes in Premium, AWD Premium, Q50S and Q50S AWD packages.
Driving Experience: On the Road
At 3,675 lbs. the Infiniti Q50S handled firm, flat, confident and predictable with no noticeable body roll when pushed hard. Thanks to Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering system, which includes electric power-assisted, speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering, 19-inch alloy wheels and 245/40/19 tires, sport-tuned double-piston KYB shocks, front double independent double-wishbone and rear multi-link independent suspension with a stabilizer bar at both ends, the Q50 was a kick to drive.
A bit more about the Direct Adaptive Steering, which is more than a steer-by-wire system that can be found on other cars. On a ton-and-a-half luxury sports sedan, the steering can make or break
the sales success of the model. The Q50 is, according to Infiniti, equipped with “the world’s first production vehicle…system that allows independent control of the tire angle and steering inputs, transmitting the driver’s input to the wheels faster than a mechanical system.” Okay, what did I feel? I took the Q50S on a mountain road known for its driving challenges, and—not for me thankfully, but many others—speeding tickets, to test the Direct Adaptive Steering on tight slow corners and fast sweepers. The result was steering that had a good feel with no lag and was precise with predictive feedback. With four driver-adjusted steering settings, the Q50 is well-planted and offered excellent control and confidence. Without a doubt, Infiniti has developed a system, which they tested for more than ten years, that throws down the gauntlet to its competitors.
Stopping was straight and true with no fading from the excellent, optional Sport Brakes that included four-wheel power-assisted vented discs with upgraded rotors (four-piston front calipers and two-piston rear calipers), four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and the Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) system.
Driving Experience: Exterior
Infiniti describes the Q50 as having “higher level of premium style” that offers “a new dimension in dynamic design.” I can’t make it clear enough how much I like the look of the Q50S. The curves, supple creases and angles flow from end-to-end and look good from any viewpoint. Much like a wave, there is a fluidity that starts with the double arch grille and distinctive LED headlights and
ends with the LED tail lights that smoothly blend into a rear fascia that is topped by the short deck lid and integrated spoiler. Our test Q50S came with the stunning Malbec Black paint that had fine reflective specs and tested your eye if you were seeing a deep burgundy wine color or black. Very impressive.
To get a glimpse into the future of how Infiniti will continue its design styling, take a look at the QX30 concept shown at the Geneva Auto Show in March 2015.
Driving Experience: Interior
The 2015 Infiniti Q50S is a car you want to spend time in and drive and drive and drive. The interior ensconces you in a combination of leather, genuine maple wood and tastefully placed aluminum trim pieces. There is nothing garish nor over-the-top in the design of the interior; everything has a logical location and is within easy reach. The comfortable and form-fitting leather seats were developed, Infiniti says, “to distribute body pressure across a wider range of the upper seating surface.”
That translated for me into a heated driver seat with memory, that was eight-way power adjustable (including power lumbar and torso support), with a very appreciated manual thigh extension. The passenger seat was also heated and eight-way power adjustable with the manual thigh extension. The rear seating area, that was very comfortable and can easily carry three adults, has a 60/40 folding rear seat with cup holders, a folding pass-through arm rest and reading lights.
Clean Fleet Report was driving a highly optioned 2015 Infiniti Q50S that was equipped with all the luxury and high-end electronics you would desire. The first thing you notice on the dash are two, stacked displays, eight-inch upper and seven-inch lower, that work together so you don’t have to leave a screen to take care of multiple activities. The displays, controlled by quickly responding
touches, allow you to customize the content. Another welcome feature, that can also be found on select Nissan models, is the Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection that is combined with the rear view monitor. This system, when the car is placed in reverse, shows a downward view of the car as if a camera was suspended over the roof. In conjunction with the overhead camera views the outside rearview mirrors also rotate downward to show curbs and parking lot lines. It’s a very convenient feature that you become reliant on and appreciate quickly.
The simplicity of the dash layout also made reading the gauges and operating the sound system easy. Clean Fleet Report’s Q50S came standard with the Infiniti Studio Bose Premium audio system with 14 speakers, and surround sound, called Bose Centerpoint. Running the Infiniti InTouch system you get SiriusXM (three-month trial subscription), AM/FM/HD/CD/MP3, dual USB ports with iPod connectivity, Aux-in jacks, Bluetooth streaming audio and hands-free telephone. Navigation with SiriusXM Traffic can also be controlled by voice recognition.
Our Q50S had a power tilt and sliding sunroof, power tilt and telescopic steering column, heated leather-wrapped and illuminated steering wheel with audio, hands-free telephone and cruise controls, and soft touch materials on the dash and door panels. Other nice interior features are auto-dimming power outside mirrors, dual zone automatic temperature control with microfiltration, push button start/stop, power windows and door locks, remote keyless entry, multiple cup holders, carpeted floor mats, center console with storage compartment, auto-dimming rearview mirror with Homelink connection and illuminated entry with auto-dimming.
Safety and Convenience
The 2015 Q50 is one of the most high-tech cars Clean Fleet Report has tested; it was stuffed with safety and Advanced Driver Assistance Technology systems. The near-future for automobiles will be making them safer through technology, with autonomous cars being introduced in another five years according to Infiniti uber boss Carlos Ghosn. The Q50 came with eight air bags, remote
keyless entry, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) with Traction Control System (TCS), hill start assist, Vehicle Stability management (VSM), 4-wheel disc Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) with brake assist and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD).
Advanced Driver Assistance Technology includes Intelligent Cruise Control, front and rear parking sensors, Blind Spot Warning (BSW) and Blind Spot intervention (BSI), Backup Collision Intervention (BCI), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking (FEB), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with Lane Departure Prevention and Active Lane Control.
To complete the safety systems are LED headlights and fog lights, auto-dimming and heated outside mirrors that have intergraded LED turn signals, speed and rain-sensing windshield wipers and an anti-theft engine immobilizer.
Pricing and Warranties
Base pricing for the 2015 Infiniti Q50 with two-wheel drive is $37,150 and $38,950 for the AWD model, excluding the $905 Destination charge. Clean Fleet Report’s two-wheel drive Q50S with the Technology, Touring, Navigation and Performance Wheel Packages had a MSRP of $53,150, excluding the $905 Destination charge.
The 2015 Infiniti Q50 comes with these warranties:
- Four-year/60,000-mile Basic
- Six-year/70,000-mile Powertrain
- Seven-year/Unlimited-mile Corrosion
Observations: 2015 Infiniti Q50S
With some very fine cars in the luxury compact sedan category, such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, it would be smart to cross-shop them
all for comparable features, driver assistance Technology, performance, fuel economy and, of course, price. What you will find with the Infiniti
Q50 is an equal competitor to all those. It offers top-of-the-line craftsmanship in a fast, fun and comfortable car.
When spending upwards of $50,000 on a car, you have an extra responsibility to take the time to research the fine differences between brands and models. When finished with your homework, Clean Fleet Report is confident the Infiniti Q50 just may be the newest occupant in your garage.
Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!
Related Stories You Might Enjoy:
Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
Road Test: 2014 Cadillac ELR
First Drive: 2015 Audi A3 Quattro
Comparison Test: 2013 Acura ILX