The Infiniti Q50 ticks all the right boxes for those looking for a classy, intelligent, athletic sports sedan.
The car boasts a sleek exterior of flowing lines based upon the Essence concept car Infiniti debuted four years ago to celebrate its 20th anniversary. After a 2016 update, it features potent engines to match the sleek shape. The base engine is a direct-injected, 208-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0L, which also produces 258 pound-feet of torque at just 1,500 rpm. Also available is a 3.0L V6, which benefits from twin-turbocharging. In standard tune, it makes 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, while the high-output version delivers 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet.
The Q50 Hybrid benefits from a 3.5L V6 with Infiniti Direct Response, which combines a gasoline engine with a lithium-ion battery and 50 kW electric motor. The result is 360 total horsepower. A 7-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with Adaptive Shift Control and manual shift mode is standard on all engines.
The Q50 is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, though the base trim only offers rear-wheel drive.
The Q50 comes in three flavors -- Base, Premium and Sport -- while the Hybrid is available in Premium and Sport only. The base trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels with run-flat performance tires, speed-sensitive power steering, auto on/off LED headlights with LED fog lights, zero-lift front and rear aerodynamics and remote-open windows. Inside can be found creature comforts such as dual-zone automatic climate control, one-touch up/down windows all around, aluminum appointments, 8-way power driver and passenger seats, a 6-speaker audio system with twin USB ports and steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and dual Infiniti InTouch LCD displays.
Q50 Premium models add pleasantries such as a power tinted moonroof with one-touch open/close functionality, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror with HomeLink, and a 14-speaker Infiniti Studio on Wheels Bose audio system. Finally, Q50 Sport models include 19-inch alloy wheels with ventilated aluminum sport disc brakes and a sport-tuned suspension, leather front seats with improved bolstering and 10-way power adjustability on the driver's side, and magnesium paddle shifters. Both Q50 Hybrid models add regenerative braking, which captures energy normally lost during braking and uses it to help recharge the lithium-ion battery.
A number of packages are available on Premium and Sport models. The Leather Package adds leather seating front and rear, with driver's seat 2-way power lumbar, while the Deluxe Touring Package includes maple wood trim, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, rain-sensing wipers, and Direct Adaptive Steering, which allows independent control of wheel angle and steering based upon driving conditions. Two technology packages add auto-leveling adaptive headlights, a blind spot warning and intervention system, intelligent cruise control to help reduce the chances of a rear collision and a lane departure warning system.
The Infiniti Q50 has been around since 2014, and it's earned a reputation for being a fetching entry in the compact sport sedan segment. In 2016, things got more interesting when Infiniti brought us the Red Sport 400 model that upped the performance ante.
But the Q50 is now one of the older cars in its segment, and it has to do battle with the likes of the tech-forward Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Audi A4, not to mention a noteworthy newcomer in the Genesis G70, as well as the next-gen BMW 3 Series, the segment's bedrock mainstay. Is the 2019 Infiniti Q50 relevant in the face of formidable competition? Spending a week getting reacquainted in Southern California provides a worthwhile refresher course.
My Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 tester arrived powered by a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 making 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque across a generous swath of the rev range. Combine that power with a seven-speed automatic transmission, and you've got yourself a lovely powertrain that's eager to wallop the rear wheels. As a bonus, whenever it climbs to the higher side of the tachometer, the engine begins to sound like a relative of the Nissan GT-R. (If you want to mimic the GT-R's all-wheel drive setup, having the engine power all four wheels costs $2,000 extra.)
The Good The 2019 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 brings plenty of power to the party, and is also entertaining to drive.
The Bad The Q50’s cabin tech is too far behind the times, and its steering saps what would otherwise be a terrific experience behind the wheel.
The Bottom Line The competition provides more of what interests today's luxury sports sedan buyer.
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