‘It's sexy, roomy, comfortable, capable and with possibly too much tech,’ blogs intrepid tester, Dan Scanlan.
Infiniti, born of Nissan 24 years ago, made a decision in 2014 to change model designations and name Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel the brand’s Director of Performance. Infiniti had always produced performance-oriented luxury cars; now they would get a more dramatic evolution of their designs along with tweaked engines, suspension and body kits. The result was the fifth generation of the compact G sedan, now called the Q50. And for us, it was the Q50S, with body and suspension mods on top of some serious high-tech driving aids.
There’s a familiar heartbeat under that long Infiniti Q50S hood – a 3.7-liter aluminum-alloy DOHC 24-valve V-6 with 328 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Our 10,000-mile-old Q50S was rear-wheel-drive (all-wheel-drive available), routed through a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and long leather-accented steering column-mounted magnesium paddle shifters.
Infiniti's Q50S lives on the current FM (front mid-engine) platform shared with the 370Z. It starts with a four-wheel independent suspension, a single pivot double-wishbone in front and a multi-link design with coil springs and shock absorbers with increased camber stiffness, stabilizer bars and a bit stiffer feel on the S. The S also ditches the base Q50’s 17-inch wheels for the 19-inchers with the P245/40R19 run-flat summer tires.
One of the like/didn’t likes was Direct Adaptive Steering, which allowed me to tune steering feel from light to standard or heavy, with casual, standard or quick response. Set at heavy/quick, the steering feel was far too firm and artificial, really loading up in turns. Set to light/casual, it was too wimpy. My favorite was standard/quick, which was just fine most times but still loaded up too artificially in turns.
The last G37 was smooth, but lacked aggression. So elements from the very aggressive ‘09 Essence Concept were implanted in the Q DNA. That included the glaring sculpted headlights with C-shaped LED daytime running lights and a white LED eyebrow when on, and flank a waved mesh pattern grill. The lower air intake is wide, with an air dam and gloss black side vents with amber LED turn signal bars and inset fog lights. Our tester had five-spoke Rays Engineering gunmetal gray forged alloy wheels wearing low-profile Bridgestone Potenza P245/40R19-inch summer rubber and with large disc brakes visible.
There’s lots of new tech inside the Q50S. Tap the unlock button on the key fob at night and the headlight LEDs glare as more lights glow in the front door handles and under the sills. Very sci-fi! You slide into well-bolstered leather buckets seats and settle into a very driver-oriented cockpit with slashes of silver, wood and glossy black. The 180-mph speedometer and 9,000-rpm tach retain the familiar purple Infiniti illumination and frame a color trip computer screen. The eight-inch upper screen handles navigation and displays SiriusXM weather radar, sports, stock, gas station and movies. The lower seven-inch Infiniti screen replaces knobs and switches for a myriad of functions.
And there’s more. The Bose audio system with 14 speakers sounded great. There’s a button to activate the surround view – a pseudo birds-eye camera system to show you what’s around the car, and a fisheye front or rear view to see what’s coming from the left or right.
Active Lane Control’s camera-based system beeps when you lane drift, and makes a small steering wheel input to keep you in lane. A Lane Departure Prevention system makes steering corrections when the camera detects road surface changes or crosswinds to get you back in lane if you wander. It constantly nudges the steering and actively fights input if you change lanes without a turn signal. I shut it off – too much of an electronic nanny.
A new thin front seatback design gives more rear foot room, and more head room despite the sloping roofline. The trunk was usable too at 13.5 cubic feet.
There are seven levels of the Infiniti Q50, starting at $37,150 on up to the hybrid starting at $44,400. Our Q50S started at $43,200 with lots of standard stuff. With all the tech goodies added, the MSRP was $53,530.
For more information about the latest sports-luxury cars from Infiniti, please visit http://www.infinitiusa.com/?dcp=ppi.63023880.&dcc=0.240189298