By Allyson Harwood
KBB Expert Rating: 8.3
The Infiniti Q50's styling may not have changed much for 2016, but there is a lot that's new under the skin. Last year's 3.7-liter V6 has been replaced by three new engines: a turbocharged 4-cylinder, and 300- and 400-horsepower versions of a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6. The hybrid option returns unchanged. This potent collection of engines should prove tempting to BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 fans. Making the sedan even more attractive are new suspension and steering choices, including a fully electronic steering system, with no physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels. The Q50's comfortable interior offers a host of advanced electronics, including electronic driver assists and cutting-edge safety systems. Most impressive is the Infiniti Q50's sub-$35,000 starting price.
The Infiniti Q50 is not available with a manual transmission. The 7-speed automatic is very good, but those who want that third pedal will have to look elsewhere. The safety systems are helpful, but some of them are overly sensitive.
KBB Expert Ratings
Under the mostly carryover skin, the 2016 Infiniti Q50 offers three new engines, new suspension, innovative safety systems and updated steering technology. Newest to the Q50 line is the Red Sport 400 model, a 400-horsepower sedan that is primed to take on its BMW, Mercedes and Audi rivals.
Our first opportunity to drive the 2016 Q50 was behind the wheel of the raucous Red Sport 400. Thanks to its 400-horsepower engine and slick-shifting 7-speed automatic, power comes effortlessly....
... Refined and composed, the Q50 is eager to cater to the driver's whims, beckoning you to go faster. The Q50 holds the road nicely, offering a good balance between comfort and responsiveness. If you don’t drive it like you stole it, leisurely cruising in the Q50 is quite pleasant. You can either choose more traditional rack-based power steering with good feedback and more natural feel, or the revised drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering with more ways to personalize the car's settings, instant response and greatly reduced steering vibration. Interior materials quality and fit and finish are very good, and there's logical placement of the controls throughout. The center stack uses a handy 2-screen system that's intuitive and easy to operate while driving.
Infiniti has expanded the Q50's engine options to four, giving buyers the best-ever variety in the Q50 lineup. Engines include a turbo-4 as the frugal entry-level choice, the volume-leading 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, the fuel-efficient hybrid and the 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6.
PREDICTIVE FORWARD-COLLISION WARNING
Not only can the Infiniti Q50 warn the driver when the vehicle ahead is making a sudden stop -- the new Predictive Forward Collision Warning senses when the car that's two cars ahead is coming to a stop, giving you more time to react safely.
Every seat of the Q50 is nicely sculpted, with the back seat offering a tighter fit (normal for its competitive set). Controls are driver-centric, but the dual-screen system in the center stack is easy to reach for both people in front. The 2-screen system uses a combination of hard buttons and touch-screen controls, and they work well together to make controlling navigation, audio and more, easy to achieve without risking driver distraction. The design is clean and modern, and as you'd expect in a luxury car, fit and finish are very good, as is the quality of the materials used.
The Infiniti Q50 looks basically the same as it did last year, with its main exterior styling cues in the form of a bold front grille and curvy wraparound sheet metal. For 2016, the Red Sport 400 is the most distinctive-looking of the lineup. It has staggered 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance run-flat tires and special exhaust tips. Another clear sign you're looking at a Q50 Red Sport 400: the telltale red "S" badge on the trunk.
The 2016 2.0t comes into the picture as the Infiniti Q50's well-equipped base model. Features such as hill-start assist, Infiniti's active trace-control cornering safety system, 17-inch machine-finished alloy wheels with run-flat tires, vented disc brakes, and LED headlights, fog lights and Daytime Running Lights are standard. Also included are 8-way-power adjustable front Leatherette seats, as is a leather steering wheel and Infiniti's dual-screen display. Dual-zone climate control, RearView Monitor, Bluetooth with hands-free text messaging, auto-up/down windows and cruise control come with every Q50.
Since all Q50s have run-flat tires, Infiniti's compact sports sedan doesn't come with a temporary spare. Memory seats, leather surfaces and a power tilt/telescoping wheel are options, as are adaptive front lighting, auto-dimming outside mirrors and a moonroof. A good mix of posh and high-tech, the Q50's options include the fantastic Around View 360-degree monitor, climate control with the Plasmacluster air purifier, rear sonar system, navigation, Intelligent Cruise Control, blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, and Direct Adaptive Steering with lane-departure prevention.
Infiniti has greatly expanded its lineup to include four drivetrains for the 2016 Q50. The standard engine is a 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. The closest replacement for the 3.7-liter V6 is an all-new twin-turbo 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter V6. The new engine has less horsepower (by 28) but more torque (26) than the outgoing engine. The third gas engine, the 400-horsepower version of the new twin-turbo V6, is available only in the Red Sport 400. All three are backed by a 7-speed automatic transmission. If you're looking to save more fuel and increase your power at the same time, the Q50 Hybrid combines a 3.5-liter V6 engine with an electric motor for a total of 360 horsepower. All models come in either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive (RWD, AWD).
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (Q50)
208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-3,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg (RWD), 22/28 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (Q50)
300 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg (RWD), 19/27 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (Q50)
400 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600-5,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/26 mpg (RWD), 19/26 mpg (AWD)
3.5-liter V6 + electric motor (Q50 Hybrid)
360 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 28/34 mpg (RWD), 27/31 mpg (AWD)
Now that a new base model Q50 has been introduced, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of the 2016 Q50 is lower than it was last year; it's now under $35,000 (including $905 destination) for the 2.0t instead of $38,000 last year. The 300-horsepower 3.0-liter Q50 starts at $40,805. Next up is the Hybrid, which starts about $48,000. The top-of-the-line Q50 Red Sport starts just under $49,000. Opting for AWD adds $2,000 to the bottom line. With this Q50, Infiniti enters the 2.0-liter turbo-4 club, joining entrants from BMW, Audi and Mercedes. BMW's 2016 320i starts at about $34,000, the 2016 Audi A4 with its turbo-4 starts under $37,000 and the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 is priced just under $40,000. Check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying, and note that the Q50 sedan should retain excellent long-term value.