The 2014 Infiniti Q50 S AWD sport sedan delivers spirited performance and sleek looks, but feels half a step out of sync with the luxury market.
While other automakers add small turbocharged four-cylinder engines to their entry-level luxury sedans, the Q50 continues to rely solely on Infiniti’s powerful V6.
The Q50 replaces Infiniti’s G37 before Nissan’s luxury brand changed the names of its vehicles in 2013. It dropped established, if somewhat random, alphanumeric names for a new taxonomy in which cars start with “Q” and trucks with “QX.” The numbers following the letters grow larger as the vehicles’ base prices rise.
Hey, changing names for no apparent reason worked when the parent company went from Datsun to Nissan, right? Not really, but the company’s endearingly Shakespearean conviction that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet has apparently not changed since it threw away Datsun’s decades of brand equity in the 1980s.
Prices for the 2014 Q50 start at $36,400 for a rear-drive model. All-wheel-drive models start at $38,950. All Q50s come with Infiniti’s 328-horsepower 3.7L V6 and seven-speed automatic transmission. There are no significant differences between the 2014 and 2015 Q50.
Infiniti calls the coupe and convertible versions of the Q50 the Q60. It will sell the previous generation G37 sedan as a base model called the Q40.
I tested a Q50 S AWD that stickered at $46,970, excluding destination charge. Features included navigation, voice recognition, push-button start, leather seats and cruise control.
The Q50 S AWD sedan competes with all-wheel-drive, six-cylinder models of the Acura TLX, Audi S4, BMW 335i, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Mercedes C-class.
The Q50’s V6 engine is among the most powerful in the segment. Its 328 hp tops all competitors except the C400’s identical output. The normally aspirated Infiniti engine’s 269 lb-ft of torque falls short of turbo- or super-charged engines in the Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The seven-speed transmission is quick and smooth.
The Q50 S AWD’s EPA fuel-economy rating of 19 mpg in the city, 27 highway and 22 combined falls in the middle of its competitive set.
The Q50’s throttle response is strong. The car leaps forward and has the legs for long, fast drives. The chassis is exemplary. The suspension absorbs bumps from poor roads and holds the car level and stable in quick maneuvers. The steering is sharp and responsive.
Infiniti intended the Q50 to be the first production car in which electronic steer-by-wire controls replaced the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front tires. The direct adaptive steering system, which Infiniti spent 10 years developing, was plagued by software problems. My test car did not have it.
My car also lacked useful features such as blind-spot or cross-traffic alert, lane-departure warning or ventilated seats.
The Q50 has more passenger and cargo space than its competitors. The front seat feels a bit cramped because of a wide center console and wraparound dash. Rear leg and head room are good. The center stack features two touchscreens for navigation, phone, audio and other controls. It’s an unusual layout that’s slightly simpler to use than some luxury cars with a single screen.
The Q50’s exterior styling is pleasant, but unremarkable. That’s surprising, given the body’s lines and curves, but the visual impact of the whole is a bit less than the sum of its parts.
The Infiniti Q50 S AWD is a pleasant sport sedan whose performance and fuel economy should win shoppers’ attention.
BEHIND THE WHEEL
2014 Infiniti Q50 S AWD
All-wheel-drive, five-passenger sport sedan
Price as tested: $46,970 (excluding destination charge)
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
Reasons to buy: All-wheel-drive, ride, handling
Shortcomings: Snug front seat, lack of common features
COMPETITIVE EPA FUEL-ECONOMY RATINGS:
(Automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive models)
Infiniti Q50 S AWD: 19 mpg city/27 highway/22 combined. Premium gasoline.
Acura TLX SH-AWD V6 Advance: 21/31/25. Premium gasoline.
Audi S4 Quattro: 18/21/21. Premium gasoline.
BMW 335i xDrive: 20/30/24. Premium gasoline.
Cadillac ATS 3.6 Performance AWD: 18/26/21. Regular gasoline.
Lexus IS 350 AWD: 19/26/21. Premium gasoline.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic: 21/29/24. Premium gasoline.
— Source: www.fueleconomy.gov
COMPARATIVE BASE PRICES (EXCLUDING DESTINATION CHARGES):
(Automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive models)
Infiniti Q50 S AWD: $45,000
Acura TLX SH-AWD V6 Advance: $44,700
Audi S4 Quattro: $49,800
BMW 335i xDrive: $45,500
Cadillac ATS 3.6 Performance AWD: $46,600
Lexus IS 350 AWD: $42,300
2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic: $48,590
SPECIFICATIONS AS TESTED:
Engine: 3.7L 24-valve V6
Power: 328 hp at 7,000 r.p.m.; 269 lb-ft of torque at 5,200 r.p.m.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 112,2 inches
Length: 188.3 inches
Width: 71.8 inches
Height: 57.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,849 lbs.
Where assembled: Tochigi, Japan
KEY FEATURES ON VEHICLE TESTED:
Standard equipment: Antilock brakes; brake assist; electronic brake-force distribution; stability control; driver and front passenger side-mounted air bags; curtain air bags; front seat belts with load limiters and pre-tensioners; 19-inch aluminum wheels; magnesium shift paddles; aluminum accented pedals; power sun roof; power locks, doors, windows and side mirrors; automatic headlights; LED headlights, fog lights and brake lights; heated steering wheel; eight-way power front seats; dual zone climate control; LED aluminum interior trim; tilt and telescoping steering column; backup camera; push-button start; key fobs with memory for driver’s settings; Bluetooth phone and audio compatible; Bose 14-speaker audio; two USB ports; auxiliary audio and video inputs; Sirius XM satellite radio; voice recognition.
Options: Splash guards; trunk mat, cargo net and first-aid kit; navigation system with voice recognition; temporary spare tire.