Words: Robert Nichols
Photography: Robert Nichols
Published: June 13, 2016
Back in 2002 Infiniti made a bold decision. They chose, out of their own freewill, to build a car that would compete directly against the BMW 3 Series. The 3 Series was, and still is, the benchmark luxury mid-size sedan against which all other cars are judged against. But several words come to mind when I think of the colossal undertaking that Infiniti took up: brave, fool hardy, even insane.
That said, when the first G35s hit the roads they stunned doubters and silenced critics. The car was superb. Not only did it look the part but it also handled well, had an exciting engine, and sported a luxurious interior. In its debut model year (2003) no one expected that the Infiniti G35 would win Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award.
Based on the FM platform that also underpinned the Nissan 350Z and using the bulletproof VQE35 V6 engine, Infiniti had a recipe for continued success, serving as a warning notice to the Bavarians. Not much has changed since, with the exception of some rebadging and the move to smaller engines. I drove the 2016 Infiniti Q50 AWD 2.0t recently and was thoroughly impressed by its handling, technology, and styling.
Finished in a sporty red, the new Q50 is very attractive. It has subtle curves, a low stance and the faintest of rakes, just enough to appear sleek but not so much as to infringe on headroom. Truthfully, little has changed appearance-wise since the model was released in 2014. Instead, Infiniti took the resources it would have spent tweaking the body and focused them on more important areas, namely on the technology and the powertrain.
For the first time the Q50 can be powered by a turbo-four. This lightweight high revving engine is all aluminum; and when I say “all” I am not exaggerating. The block and head are aluminum obviously, but in the interests of weight reduction the engineers decided on a die-cast aluminum crankcase. Key to the longevity and carefree ownership offered by this new engine is the use of a timing chain instead of a belt.
I love a timing chain; they do not require anything beyond regular oil changes to last the life of the car. A timing belt on the other hand requires an expensive replacement after a specific mileage and if you neglect this work the belt will snap and the engine will grenade itself. My advice if you plan on keeping the car beyond the warranty period, only buy a car with a timing chain!
As for actual day-to-day driveability, the Mer-finiti engine seems to hesitate initially on take-off. To pull away from a stop in a hurry you really need to stand on it. Once the revs build up, you are in for a treat though. The 7-speed automatic transmission has the option of manually shifting through the gears, not with paddles on this exact model (magnesium paddles are available on higher end units), but with the gear lever.
Select the Sport drive mode, keep the revs above 4,000 rpm, and this car will deliver no end of driving pleasure. The smaller engine keeps the front end light and rewards your environmentally friendly powertrain selection with crisp handling that is responsive and offers good feedback through the hydraulically assisted rack and pinion steering. The suspension keeps the car level, even when driven aggressively on twisty country roads with little to no supervision (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). The Q50 with the base engine delivers on the sports sedan promise but when you feel like taking things slow it offers a comfortable and efficient ride.
There are those of you looking for a bit more power, and the Q50 has you covered. There are two new 3.0L engines available. Dubbed the “VR” series, they use turbochargers to out-perform the VQ series engines they replace. For the “bigger is better” crowd these new powerplants represent technologically advanced small engines well.
The standard version can be found in the Q50 3.0t Premium and Sport models. It delivers 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. To make this engine responsive Infiniti developed a twin-turbo system in which the turbines can spin up 240,000 rpm; that’s bloody fast!
If 300 hp seems a touch wimpy to you, there is another version found in the Q50 Red Sport 400, which we are slated to have some drive time later this summer. For this high-output performance model the VR engine’s dial has been turned all the way up to develop 400 hp and a stout 350 lb-ft. All three of these new engines feature low end grunt with peak torque being made between 1,500 - 5,200 rpm, and claim to return better fuel economy than the previous models. The 7-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, which is a bit sad because 400 hp and a manual sounds like a good time to us.
The only engine to be carried over from 2015 is the 3.5L hybrid. Unlike many hybrids the purpose of this unit is not strictly green; they made it to enhance performance without seriously compromising fuel efficiency. That’s what we like to hear! The V6 engine which makes 302 hp and 258 lb. ft. of torque is paired with a 50Kw motor that produces 67 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque. Power is controlled by a dual-clutch system that seamlessly delivers the power to the wheels. In short regardless of what kind of power you require there is a Q50 to suit your needs.
As for the controls Infiniti has wisely adopted a dual screen infotainment/nav/climate format. I like this as it allows the driver access to directions and other functions at the same time. The 8” touchscreen on top is strictly for the navigation system. Below this is a 7” touch screen to handle audio, climate and everything else you could ever need and then some. A particular function I thought was innovative was the audio pre-sets ability to mix AM/FM/and Satellite stations in the same list. There are a set number of pre-sets and you choose what goes where. This simplifies things by not requiring you to switch between sources, AM to FM for example, to select among your favourite stations whilst driving.
The model seen here had two options packages added. First was the $4,000 Premium Package: 14 speaker Bose Studio on wheels audio, Homelink transceiver, heated auto-dimming exterior mirrors with memory, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass,60/40 folding rear seat, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel with memory, leather seats, Navigation, voice recognition and adaptive shift control.
The second was the Driver Assistance package. For $2,000 you gain forward emergency braking, blind spot warning, back-up collision intervention with cross traffic alert, predictive forward collision warning that went off every time I passed a car in heavy traffic (perhaps I am too aggressive?), and surround view monitor with moving object detection.
There are two new technologies debuting on the 2016 Q50 which are available on the 3.0t AWD model and up; DAS (direct adaptive steering) and something called DDS (dynamic digital suspension). The DAS is supposed to transmit driver input to the front wheels quicker than a traditional setup while requiring less corrections and enabling the driver to choose how much feedback and assistance they want to receive. The DDS is comprised of continuously variable shocks that respond to driving mode, style and road conditions to help maintain flat and stable body composure under all circumstances.
The Q50, no matter the trim, will impress with standard AWD, an abundance of powertrain options and competitive pricing. It would appear that Infiniti has done the impossible and managed to have built a car capable of making the 3 Series look over its shoulder. With sporty looks that are supported by a nimble chassis and a stylish interior, you could argue that the Infiniti Q50 is getting real close to becoming the new benchmark luxury mid-size sedan.
型号 Model: 2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Venetian Ruby
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $39,900
試車售價 Price as Tested: $48,180
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,850
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,738 / 1,824 / 1,453
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,776
引擎 Engine: 2.0L turbocharged DOHC inline-four
最大馬力 Horsepower: 208 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,500 - 3,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway ) L/100km: 10.6 / 8.4
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 9.1
輪胎尺碼 Tires: 225/55RF17; Bridgestone Potenza