By Allyson Harwood
The elegantly styled Infiniti Q50 has a fun, sporting attitude that can bring out the big kid in anyone. Bolstered by potent engines, plus cutting-edge electronic driver assists and safety tech, the Q50 returns for 2017 with updates that build on last year's major changes. For 2016, the Q50 received an all-new gas engine lineup consisting of twin-turbo V6 engines and a turbocharged 4-cylinder, which joined the unchanged hybrid option. This quartet is tempting for shoppers who are eyeing the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series. The Infiniti also has advanced suspension and steering choices, including a fully electronic steering system with no physical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels. Another appealing aspect of the Q50? Pricing starts at under $35,000.
The 2017 Infiniti Q50 is a stylish sports sedan with excellent powertrain options and responsive suspension. But it's more than just a track star: The interior is both comfortable and luxurious. The Q50 also happens to be reasonably priced compared to its rivals.
If you’re looking for a sports sedan with a 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine, there are plenty to choose from, including more powerful entrants from Lexus (the IS 200t is sprightlier but slightly smaller), Audi and Mercedes-Benz. The Q50 is tech-heavy, which doesn’t appeal to everyone. Also, there's no manual-transmission option.
Moderate updates to the Q50 include the addition of the 2.0t Sport and 2.0t Sport all-wheel-drive (AWD) models, which come with summer performance run-flat tires and sport brakes, plus a sporty styling package. A new 16-speaker Bose audio system is now available, and the Red Sport 400 gets red brake calipers.
With the fiery Red Sport 400, getting to speed is effortless and can easily tempt you to go faster, yet as is the case with all the Q50s, it is...
... refined and composed; its suspension is responsive, but on a leisurely drive the ride is quite pleasant. The most efficient gas engine is the 2.0t, with 208 horsepower, and for those interested in a hybrid, the Q50's system offers 360 horsepower and 32 highway mpg. The best mix of power, equipment, pricing and options is in the 3.0t. Its twin-turbo 300-horsepower V6 offers much of the fun of the Red Sport 400, with a lower entry fee. There are two steering options. While the drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering offers instant response, easier steering at lower speeds and more ways to personalize the car's settings, the more traditional rack-based power steering provides good feedback and more natural feel.
The Q50's new twin-turbo V6 engine is the basis for the 3.0t and Red Sport 400. Whether you prefer the 300- or the 400-horsepower version, power comes on swiftly and is managed well by the slick-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission.
PREDICTIVE FORWARD COLLISION WARNING
While it's important to know when the car ahead of you is making a sudden stop, it can be even more important to know when the car two cars ahead is stopping. The Infiniti Q50's available Predictive Forward Collision Warning gathers that information through sensors, giving you more time to react safely.
The Q50 offers a good balance of luxury and sport, and the interior reflects that. The materials’ quality and fit and finish are very good, and the design is a smart mix of precision and luxury. Every seat is nicely sculpted, but rear-seat legroom is a little tight (normal for its competitive set). While there is a tech-heavy feel to the Q50, there's logical placement of the controls throughout. Take the center stack as an example: It uses a handy 2-screen system, with both hard buttons and touch-screen controls, and is intuitive and easy to operate while driving.
If you are familiar with the looks of the Q50, you'll instantly recognize the 2017 model. It looks basically the same as it did last year, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The Q50 stands out because of its beautiful curvy sheetmetal and bold front grille. The Red Sport 400 has its own styling cues, with staggered 19-inch alloy wheels and summer performance run-flat tires, red brake calipers and special exhaust tips. While 17-inch wheels come standard on 2.0t models, the new-for-2017 2.0t Sport and 2.0t Sport AWD come with 19-inch wheels and summer performance run-flats.
The 2017 Q50 2.0t comes standard with features that include power heated side mirrors, hill-start assist, cruise control, and 17-inch wheels with run-flats. The Q50 also comes with 8-way power-adjustable front Leatherette seats, but if you want leather seats, seat heaters, dual-occupant memory or navigation, you'll have to step up to another trim level. Infiniti's active trace-control cornering safety system, ventilated disc brakes, LED headlights with auto mode, LED fog lights and DRLs are standard. So are Bluetooth, RearView Monitor, leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, auto-up/down windows and dual display screens.
If you want a moonroof, you'll be looking at the Q50's list of options and packages. Also on that list are Infiniti's fantastic Around View 360-degree monitor, climate control with the Plasmacluster air purifier, rear sonar system, navigation, Intelligent Cruise Control, lane-departure warning, blind-spot warning, and adaptive front lighting with auto-leveling headlights. Direct Adaptive Steering will give you instant response, but you don’t need it to be happy driving a Q50. Another option to consider: Dynamic Digital Suspension. Its electronically controlled shocks reduce steering vibration and can offer a softer or firmer ride as the situation calls for it.
For 2017, the Infiniti Q50 is available with four drivetrains. The base engine is a 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-4 with auto stop/start. There are two versions of Infiniti's new twin-turbo V6 engine, known as the VR. The 300-horsepower version powers the 3.0t, and for those who want something a little fierier, there's the 400-horsepower version that powers the Red Sport 400. All three of these use a 7-speed automatic. The Q50 Hybrid uses the previous-generation 3.5-liter V6 engine plus an electric motor for a total of 360 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard; AWD is available on all models.
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: 20/29 mpg (RWD), 19/27 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (Q50 Red Sport 400)
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 (hybrid system net power)
258 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm (engine torque)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 27/32 mpg (RWD), 26/30 mpg (AWD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
The base-model Q50 has an impressively low price that falls below $35,000, including its $905 destination fee. Its MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) of $34,855 is the same as it was for 2016. But competition is fierce: There is a healthy 2.0-liter turbo-4 club that the Q50 enters. Members include similarly equipped entrants from BMW (the 2017 320i also starts at less than $35,000), Audi (the front-drive A4 Premium starts at just over $38,000) and Mercedes-Benz (C300 with a base MSRP of above $40,000). Moving to the 300-horsepower 3.0-liter Q50, pricing starts at $41,555. Next up is the Hybrid, which starts under $49,000. The top-of-the-line Q50 Red Sport starts at just under $50,000. Opting for AWD adds $2,000 to the bottom line of any model. 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.