Abundantly equipped and available with a range of powertrains, including the powerful Red Sport version, the Infiniti Q50 sedan has been the most popular model from Nissan’s luxury division. Launched for 2014, it succeeded the G37. For the 2018 model year, modest exterior restyling and interior refinement are accompanied by a reshuffled trim-level lineup.
Front and rear fascia are new, tailored to each trim level.
The Q50 Pure has replaced the prior base model, available only with Infiniti’s 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Luxe replaces the Premium version, offered with either the 2.0-liter four, a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, or in Hybrid form with a V6 gasoline engine. The Sport model gets stylish trim and a standard V6, while the Red Sport continues with a 400-horsepower rendition of the V6.
The 2.0-liter turbo four makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 comes two ways: rated 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet in regular models, escalating to 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet in Red Sport 400 tune. The Q50 Hybrid uses a combination of 3.5-liter V6 and 67-horsepower electric motor, with total system output of 360 horsepower.
Each engine mates with a 7-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive optional.
Pure and Luxe models get specific appearance details. The Sport and Red Sport 400 look somewhat more aggressive. New 18- and 19-inch wheels vary with the model.
Neither federal regulators nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have tested the 2018 Q50. The IIHS gave the 2017 model Good ratings for side and moderate front overlap collisions.
A suite of advanced active-safety systems is available. Included are adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking. Some safety systems require purchase of Direct Adaptive Steering, which gets a mixed review.
Distance Control Assist, if installed, can maintain a safe distance to the car in front, when the driver lets up on the gas pedal. If that vehicle is slowing or stopped, DCA will maintain a safe gap or, if appropriate, bring the Q50 to a full stop.
In addition to option packages, the Q50 is available with plenty of advanced technology to supplement its ample list of standard equipment in each trim level.
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Pure ($34,200) gets the 2.0-liter turbo four and rear-wheel drive, plus 17-inch alloy wheels, rearview camera, LED headlights, drive mode selector, leatherette-upholstered power front seats, 8.0- and 7.0-inch infotainment screens, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, and six-speaker audio. 2.0t Luxe ($36,550) adds a moonroof, maple wood trim, and 18-inch sport wheels. Two option packages are available. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
All-wheel drive is optional ($2,000) for all models. Front-wheel drive is standard.
3.0t Luxe ($38,950) upgrades with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6.
3.0t Sport ($40,650) includes more aggressive appearance details, 19-inch run-flat tires, and aluminum interior trim. Leather-upholstered seats include thigh extensions.
Red Sport 400 ($51,000) upgrades to a 400-horsepower version of the 3.0-liter V6. Included are navigation, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, staggered 19-inch wheels, a surround-view camera, quilted leather, and a heated steering wheel.
Hybrid Luxe ($50,600) is equipped similar to 2.0t Luxe, but substitutes a battery/gasoline powertrain with 3.5-liter V6 engine.
Among the best-looking sedans in its category, the Q50 gets modest revisions for the 2018 model year. Most of its luscious curves remain, and the Q50 looks more stylish as well as assertive.
Visually, Pure and Luxe sedans look significantly different from a Sport version. Pure and Luxe feature chrome accents, with smaller aerodynamic elements. Foglamp surrounds are smaller, and the exhaust surround is body-colored.
Sport and Red Sport 400 editions substitute dark chrome for the usual brightwork. The front chin spoiler is bigger has grown. Exhaust surrounds are black.
New interior touches for 2018 increase Q50 refinement. Changes are mild but numerous, raising the levels of quality and luxury.
The new steering wheel features more attractive detailing, with slimmer spokes. Ambient lighting and instrument-cluster illumination have been updated. Leather covers the stitched dashboard.
One weakness may be the center stack, which still lacks visual appeal. A twin-screen infotainment system nearly fills the stack, flanked by two groups of piano-black buttons.
Front occupants can savor excellent, impressively comfortable â€œzero gravityâ€ seats. Seat cushioning strikes an appealing balance between sink-in soft and usefully firm. Red Sport 400 models add attractive quilted, semi-aniline leather.
Headroom is a concern in the back seat, but legroom is fully acceptable. Trunk space is substantial, totaling 18 cubic feet.
A Q50 is quiet and composed, with only slight wind noise. Engine and tire sounds are seldom heard.
Basically, the Q50 maintains satisfying balance between ride comfort and handling prowess. The body behaves predictably through curves, but steering does feel somewhat disconnected from the pavement. Sport-minded drivers might feel that this sedan provides too much coddling.
Rough spots are effectively dealt with by the suspension, keeping Q50 occupants isolated from most road-surface flaws.
Optional Direct Adaptive Steering, a steer-by-wire system, can be problematical. Feedback via the steering wheel is virtually nonexistent. Sport+ mode does inject a modest sense of heft, but fails to inspire confidence. DAS feels jumpy, making repeated small corrections mandatory.
All three engines are stronger than their likeliest rivals. In the Red Sport 400, the potent V6 feels effortless throughout its speed range. Starting off from a stop, turbo lag is minimal. The 400-horsepower V6 also emits a vibrant exhaust sound.
Smooth and relaxed in daily driving, the 7-speed transmission keeps engine speed under close control. Response suffers when accelerating harder. Even in the Red Sport, upshifts are too leisurely.
Stressing performance above economy, the Q50 isn’t especially fuel-efficient. With rear-drive and the turbo four, the 2018 Q50 is EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate slightly, to 22/28/24 mpg.
With rear-drive, the V6-powered Luxe and Sport are EPA-rated at 20/29 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. All-wheel-drive versions are EPA-rated at 19/27/22 mpg. The 400-horsepower Red Sport 400 with rear-drive is rated at 20/26/22 mpg. All-wheel drive reduces the city rating to 19 mpg.
With rear-drive, the Hybrid is EPA-rated at 27/32 mpg City/Highway, or 29 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops that estimate to 26/30/28 mpg.
The refreshed Q50 is still a beautiful example of the premium sedan, with an impressively updated cabin. Yet, it doesn’t quite measure up to premium German competitors. Three engines are available, but only one promises fuel-efficient motoring. Enthusiasts might fault Q50 handling, but other premium-sedan buyers may be more attracted to its luscious shape.
Driving impressions by Brandon Turkus, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.