Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: December 13, 2017
You may not notice it from our photos but the Infiniti Q50 has actually received a mid-cycle refresh for 2018. The minor changes include a sharpened exterior look with a more angular front bumper, wider and lower air intakes, and a slightly redesigned rear end that tries to place more focus on the twin exhausts and diffuser. The effect is trivial but it does add slightly more visual aggression to the overall figure. I think the Q50 have aged rather well too, and appears much more youthful than the rivaling BMW 3 Series that launched around the same time back in 2014.
The interior also receives some extra garnish with a new steering wheel borrowed from the Q60 Coupe (looks like a Fruit Gusher), a cobra-shaped gear shifter, and more leather-like materials and stitching around the driver’s instrument binnacle. The dual screens are still there: an 8-inch upper and 7-inch lower screen. They may seem redundant like they are in Hondas and Acuras, but they work rather well the more you utilize and take advantage of them. The top screen can display the maps and navigation instructions while the bottom screen allows you tinker away with audio and heating controls at the same time. Both are touchscreen too, but the top screen can also be controlled via a rotary dial under the gear shifter. All these operating options can cause a bit of tactile confusion at first, but the learning curve is fairly small.
What really stood out to me was the powertrain. We tested the Q50 3.0t Sport AWD. Yes, the numbers and acronyms can be confusing, especially with an S badge on the rear throwing it all off. What you need to know is that under the hood is a brand new VR-Series 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 with two available states of tune: 300-hp (3.0t) and 400-hp (Red Sport). We tested the 400-hp Q50 Red Sport before but after driving the 300-hp variant, we noticed that the 100-hp disparity is miniscule. Our 3.0t feels nearly as quick and potent in a straight line. Though it may only have 295 lb-ft, it’s available from as low as 1,600 rpm. My butt dyno says it feels more like 350 lb-ft.
That’s the real message that I got after spending a week with the 3.0t. You genuinely don’t need a Red Sport and the premium surcharge that comes with it, unless you’re keen on having bragging rights and soft semi-aniline leather seats. I’m certain that 90% of drivers will find satisfaction with the 3.0t - it is both comfortable and exhilarating at the same time. Flooring the throttle is met with an ever so slight pause as the Q50 squats, followed by a kick right to your sternum. It’s all you really need for city driving, and will let you devour its German competition in traffic light bursts - this Q50 feels faster off the line than the Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti Sport and even the Jaguar XE 35t. On another note, there is quite a lot of rolling inertia even after lifting off the gas pedal, so it can catch you off guard with how fast you’re actually going.
Regardless of the state of tune, this twin-turbo V6 proves that Infiniti really knows how to design an engine - it is one of the quickest and smoothest powerplants in the compact luxury segment, just a few hairs away from the creamy inline-six from BMW. The intake noise is also very similar to the outgoing 3.7-litre V6, with that characterful and distinct howl. Exhaust noise is noticeably absent. Still, I’d buy a Q50 for this engine alone.
If the steering and suspension was tuned with a more performance-oriented driver in mind, the Q50 would check all the boxes for the perfect performance sedan. But you can tell Infiniti has tuned the Q50 with a focus on leisure cruising rather than a Nürburgring track time. That being said, the lack of steering feel is off putting. Our Q50 did not have the optional Adaptive Direct Steering but it did have electronic power steering. There are many options to tailor its level of response but none of them feel right. It is too artificial, lacks feedback during initial turn-in, and feels as real as a Playstation controller.
The ride is softly sprung, erring on the side of comfort, and I’m guessing that’s what the majority of Infiniti owners are looking for. As a result, there is quite a bit of body roll when swung around corners and vertical movement when hitting bumps. I can’t really tell the difference between the softest and firmest damping modes either. The grip limit is incredibly high with these Pirelli Sottozero winter tires and the AWD system habitually keeps everything in check, making it rather difficult to kick the rear out without disengaging the stability control. The Q50 is only available with AWD in Canada.
On the bright side, the matched 7-speed automatic transmission is a darling and shifts with purpose, never seeking out the top gear or downshifting too early. Rarely, the gearbox will jerk under heavy acceleration loads and during down- and up-shifts. Most of the time it’s quite smooth when left to automatic shifting, but something tells me that this V6 motor is just begging for a manual transmission to squeeze out all that pulp. The brake pedal feels really nice too - progressive, linear, and has good pedal resistance for precise modulations.
Of note, the Q50 is one of the only compact luxury sedans aside from the Cadillac ATS that still offers remote engine start - a convenient feature for Canadians stranded in colder climates. It is also one of the only cars without a start/stop system to temporarily shut the car off when idling to save fuel.
The Q50 3.0t Sport AWD is a potent four-door athlete that values comfort and straight-line speed over handling and driver involvement. It might not win over performance-oriented customers wishing for top-shelf driving dynamics, but it will make everyone else swoon over its creamy new V6 engine, stylish and youthful looks, and luxurious interior atmosphere. The minor but meaningful upgrades for 2018 only make it that much more appealing.
型号 Model: 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Sport AWD
顏色 Paint Type: Electric Indigo
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $47,995
試車售價 Price as Tested: $48,645
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,850
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,803 / 1,824 / 1,453
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6
最大馬力 Horsepower: 300hp @ 6,400 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 1,600 - 5,200 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli Sottozero