2016 Infiniti Q50 S: Outdated engine or old-school cool?The design is sleek and modern, the tech has been updated, but the Q50's decades-old but still potent power train makes us pause and reconsider.
This is the vehicle formerly known as the G37. That's right, it's Infinity's new 2015 Q50S sports sedan. And, as you can tell, stylistically it's a more handsome and muscular, a more modern car than the G37 was. But if you peek under the hood, you'll find that the two cars quite literally share the same heart. Let's hop behind the wheel and I'll explain more. [MUSIC] Under the hood we've got infinity's DQ series 3.7 liter engine. That's specifically VQ 37 ZHR for the Nissan nerds keeping track. That's actually a much older engine than much of the competition's using. It's been in use in the G 37 and the Q 50 dating back to 2008, and it's basic design is even older than that. About two decades old for the VC series. I'll put in about 328 Horsepower and 269 pound feet or torque but it does kind of feel like an older engine and it's a little bit less lively than for example the smaller displacement turbo charge engine that you're getting from BMW and Audi this days. The Q-50S in real-world drive trim is good for about 23 miles per gallon combined, which isn't terrible, but it is four to five gallons off the pace from a comparable BMW Audi model. Now, this V6 engine is going to be paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission, which you have here, or a six-speed manual gear box. Seven-speed automatic does have paddle shifters that are attached to The shift column, not the steering wheel. So they don't turn with the wheel. That's a very race car like design. It's pretty cool, but it does mean that you don't really have a good access to them when you're turning the wheel. And as stated earlier, rear wheel drive is standard. But always Wheel drive is available as an option on this vehicle. Now, one area of the Q50 that is not an old design is the suspension platform. You notice immediately that there's not a big dead spot around the steering wheel and that any sort of small twitches In the steering position translate almost immediately into result from the chassis. And you get a very good seat of your pants feel and pretty good steering wheel feel, which is something you don't really get a whole lot of in this class of vehicle. Now in the dashboard we've got Inifniti's InTouch dual screen infotainment system. Now basically the way this works is there are two screens stacked on top of each other in the dashboard. Both of them are touch sensitive. But the top screen can also be controlled by a physical controller down here on the center console. You can also control it with steering wheel controls over here on the far left. Now the top screen is resistive. The bottom screen uses capacitive technology. As you could tell by it's basically taking me this long to even explain what the system is. It's very complicated and it can be pretty difficult to use. When you're on the road things will get kind of scattered all over. You can change the audio source for example from the top screen or the bottom screen. It would be better if these things w ere located in one simple are where you can gain access to all of them in addition to a full gamut of full digital media sources. We've also got some very interesting things like very granular control over the driver assisted features. Which we'll come back to in a second. And the various drive modes. For example, you can pop into a menu and independently select the responsiveness of the steering and the weight of the steering. That's just extremely precise and something that I haven't seen in many vehicles. Usually they just give you a Four comfort settings. The dashboard tech isn't very good, but one area that Infinity has traditionally been a very strong competitor is with driver assistant technology, and this Q50 is no exception. We've got forward collision alert that basically works like a distance control unit. And basically what that does is it uses a forward facing radar system To measure the distance between you and the vehicle in front of you, and if you get to close it will actually slow the vehicle down so you're not tailgating them. We've also get lane departure prevention system that is going to use camera to monitor the lines on the road and if you drift over the marker uninteninolly that is without using your turn signal it will actually use bias break to attempt To pull you back into your lane. Now this system's interesting. It uses brakes, not the electronic power steering like a lot of newer models. And what that means is that you don't really get that sort of weird twitchiness out of the steering wheel that you get with some lane depart parts and prevention systems, but it also means that the resolution is a little bit lower. It's not as precise in pulling you back in the line and the intervention isn't as powerful, which means that it's a little bit easier for this vehicle to drift over the line without you wanting it to. Finally, we've got a blind spot monitoring system that will activate that lane departure system if you attempt to change lanes when someone is detected in your blind spot. Now what's really interesting about infinity's implementation is that it puts all of these features onto one button right here in the steering wheel. It kinda looks like a force field around the car, and that's why I like to call it the force field button. It basically is a on off toggle for all of those driver aid systems. So if you're in a situation where you don't really want any intervention and you want to be in control of the car, you just tap one button And all of them turn off. But then if you find yourself in traffic or in a situation where you're a little bit distracted. For example, you're trying to use this very terrible dashboard infotainment system. You can just hit that button and know that the vehicle's gonna be watching your back while you need it to. The former G37 starts appropriately at around $37,000 for the base model. How are this fully loaded Q50s with its tech package, its Deluxe Touring, its Wheel package and more, gonna top out at around $54,000 fully loaded. For the money, it's a much better car than the G37 was even though they share very similar bone. And it's a worthy competitor to, for example, Lexus' IS350. But when you start to compare it to the German competition, the vehicle seems to lag a little bit behind in terms of efficiency and technology, two things that are very important for a daily driving sports sedan.