Since its debut as a 2014 model, the sharply-styled Infiniti Q50 sedan has given drivers an alternative to prestigious German models. It’s back again for the new model year, as it keeps pace with rivals with more standard equipment.
Active safety gets the nod for the 2019 model year. All Q50 sedans now include forward emergency braking and forward-collision warnings. Nissan’s luxury division has revised the model lineup and modified equipment, while refreshing both exterior and interior appearance.
For the 2019 model year, the Q50 comes in a slimmed-down lineup of trim levels: base Pure, Luxe, Sport, and Red Sport. Infiniti has dropped the Q50 Hybrid.
Infiniti offers a trio of powertrain choices. The base turbocharged 4-cylinder engine makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Able to outshine budget-level Audis and BMWs, the base engine comes only in Pure trim level.
Luxe and Sport trims are equipped with a 3.0-liter turbo V-6 that develops 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. The 300-hp engine pits the Q50 against such performance rivals as the competitors like Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 and BMW M340i. In the Red Sport edition, the 3.0 V-6 reaches even higher into performance territory, producing 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet.
All Q50 sedans use a 7-speed automatic transmission, coupled to standard rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available with any powertrain for an additional $2,000.
Unlike some competitive models, all Q50 sedans now feature forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. Blind-spot monitors and active lane control are optional, as well as adaptive cruise control.
Neither the federal-government nor independent testers have comprehensively crash-tested an Infiniti Q50 in recent years. The only rating given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was a five-star score for rollover prevention, and that’s a calculated figure, not based on a crash-test.
Outward vision is generally good, resulting from Infiniti’s overall push for greater glass area in bigger and brighter cabins.
Infiniti offers several option packages: Sensory, ProActive, Essential, and ProAssist, each priced around $2,650. Topping the lineup, the Red Sport gets exclusive front/rear fascias, dark chrome accents, and paddle shifters, along with contents of the Essential and ProAssist packages.
Prices do not include destination charge.
2.0t Pure ($35,550 rear-drive, $37,550 all-wheel drive), the base sedan, is equipped with the 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine, start/stop function, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, synthetic leather upholstery, power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, dual touchscreens, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB charge ports, and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
3.0t Luxe ($38,300 rear-drive, $40,300 all-wheel drive) adds twin-turbo 300-hp V-6, a moonroof, maple wood trim, and 18-inch wheels.
3.0t Sport ($47,950 rear-drive, $49,950 all-wheel drive) includes 300-hp V-6, 19-inch sport wheels, sport-type leather-appointed seats, Bose audio, and contents of Essential, ProAssist, and Sensory packages.
3.0t Red Sport ($51,000 rear-drive, $53,000 all-wheel drive) comes with 400-hp V-6, an adaptive suspension, uprated brakes, 19-inch wheels, semi-aniline leather seat upholstery, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, navigation, and rear parking sensors.
Handsome and athletic in appearance, the Q50 conveys a muscular aura. Modestly updated for the 2018 model year, it stands above many rival luxury compact sedans.
Below the sharply creased hood, the front bumper opens wide at the bottom. At the rear, exaggerated shoulders add to the sense of strength. Pure and Luxe trim levels are decorated with chrome elements. Sport and Red Sport models rely on black trim accents for a look that some might call menacing.
Though understated, the Q50 cabin is definitely not boring. Upper trim levels get fancier leather, which looks and feels good.
Passenger accommodations excel in both front and rear. Efficient, comfortable seating helps increase available space, especially in the back. Two adults fit neatly in the rear seat, though it’s not as all-day comfortable as the front. Three can ride in the rear, at least for shorter trips. Legroom totals 35.1 inches â€“ sufficient for taller passengers, though some might be short on head clearance. Outboard rear seats are more sculpted than some rivals.
Fit and finish meet luxury-car standards. All the more so in Sport and Red Sport trim levels, which add softer leather that’s attractive and supple.
Infiniti’s finicky and confusing dual-screen infotainment system dominates the dashboard. Not many automakers have adopted this configuration. Some functions seem to be duplicated, appearing on both screens. The infotainment system also lacks Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
Trunk space amounts to 13.2 cubic feet, which is average for sedans in the Q50’s class.
Infiniti offers good powertrain choices, led by two flavors of the authoritative turbocharged V-6. In addition to stirring performance, an intoxicating wonderful exhaust note emanates from the V-6’s twin tailpipes.
Any Q50 stands ready to keep up with, if not beat, the competition. The base 4-cylinder engine outshines entry-level powertrains from BMW and Audi.
Either version of the twin-turbo V-6 in Luxe, Sport, and Red Sport models is entertaining and competitive, yielding effortless power through the full rev range. What feels like a turbocharged “wall” of torque is a sure bet to stimulate enthusiast drivers.
Ordinary steel springs on base trim level deliver a satisfactory ride. Adaptive dampers are standard on Sport and Red Sport.
The Q50 handles better with the standard mechanical steering setup than Infiniti’s optional by-wire system. The option lacks driver feedback and may induce a disconnected feel â€“ a significant demerit in a sporty compact luxury sedan.
Infiniti’s all-wheel-drive system is seamless and sharp, capable of carving a tighter path through challenging canyon roads.
Turbocharged powertrains deliver a mix of driving joy and average, though respectable, fuel economy. Most frugal 2019 version is the turbo-4 with rear-wheel drive, EPA-rated at 23/30 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined.
Picking a V-6 doesn’t slash mileage by much. With rear-wheel drive, the V-6 version is EPA-rated at 20/29 mpg City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive shaves 1 mpg from each figure: 19/27/22 mpg.
The potent Q50 Red Sport is EPA-rated at 20/26 mpg City/Highway, or 22 mpg Combined, with rear-drive. All-wheel drive dips the estimate to 19/26/22 mpg. All Q50s need premium fuel.
Even though crossovers like Infiniti’s own QX50 garner more attention these days, the Q50 remains a compelling near-luxury sedan value. Base versions are well-equipped, qualifying as best values. All standard-equipment lists are impressive â€“ except for lack of some common-sense features on top models. If a V-6 is considered essential, the Q50 Luxe is a sensible choice.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.