Two years ago, Infiniti turned everything upside down when it decided to completely rename its entire model lineup. The long loved G37 sedan no longer existed. There were being “replaced” by the Q50. With the name change came a visual refresh, some new interior equipment, and a few extra performance changes. With the bones of Nissan’s 370Z living underneath it, the Q50 promises to be a great performer, and I was excited to see if this rebadged G still had the goods to deliver the fun its predecessor provided. Infiniti decided to oblige and sent me a decked out Q50S with a few new-for-2015 options. Read on to find out what I thought of it.
From the moment you lay eyes on the Q50S, it is obvious that this car wants to be more than its German rivals. Rather than stick with safe and boring designs, the Infiniti looks organic and youthful. The large pontoon fenders arch up and flare out, making the nose of the car look long and mean. The signature Infiniti grille wraps gracefully around the shape, and gently flows into many of the cars various bodylines. The headlamps are deeply inset and have a hawk eye-like shape that flows well with the rest of the car.
The profile of the car is a little nose heavy thanks to the long hood and relatively short rear deck, but it works for the Q50S. The most striking feature however is the dark 19-inch Rays forged alloy wheels that are part of the new Performance Wheel package. These lightweight alloys are all-new for the 2015 Q50 and they amazing. I do wish the exterior color of the car was a little lighter though, to provide better contrast against the dark wheels.
Inside the Q50S, things are a little more subdued. Whereas the exterior is very flamboyant and exciting, the interior focuses on classic lines, and ergonomics over flashy looks and wild design choices. The result is a cabin that is luxurious and interesting, without feeling overly complicated. I really enjoy it. The color palate is mostly beige in this car, but the dash and doors features a dark finish that provides a nice contrast. Throughout the cockpit there are various bits of silver trim that really add a nice luxurious finish. The seats are very comfortable, and thanks to their immense level of adjustability, it was easy to find the perfect driving position.
The cabin is filled with all the equipment you would expect to find in a car of this class. From navigation and branded stereo upgrade, heated and cooled seats, and a suite of various entertainment apps, there isn’t a box that hasn’t been checked off.
But the look and feel of the car is only half the story. When you are positioned against something like the BMW 3 Series, you have to provide great driving dynamics. The backbone of the Q50S’ powertrain is a 3.7-liter VQ engine that is very similar to that found in the Nissan 370Z. It produces 328 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Shuffling that power to the wheels is Infiniti’s 7-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is quick enough, and the paddle shifters mounted on the steering column mimic those found in the GT-R supercar, but I still really yearned for the ability to row my own gears.
Power is sent exclusively to the rear wheels on my tester, and the car really feels alive when you start to push it. Infiniti claims a lot of work was focused on the suspension system, and the Q50S uses a lot of fancy and lightweight materials to keep unsprung weight to a minimum. The result is a car that feels nimble and that has quick responses. Sadly, as you approach the far limits of this car’s capability, it tends to feel a bit wallowy. This trait is exaggerated under heavy braking.
If you keep the car under the 8/10s mark, it is a really fun little machine to flog, and it can be very rewarding to drive.
Beyond the suspension, the Q50S has a very special steering system that is worthy of note. Called Direct Adaptive Steering, the Q50S uses a sort-of drive-by-wire steering system. Infiniti claims that by using this system of motors, the car can turn in quicker and more precisely than what is possible with a traditional steering rack. I will say that in practice, the turn-in speed on this machine is phenomenally quick. If you worry about things like I do, you will be happy to hear that there is a backup mechanical linkage from the wheels to the steering column, just in case something goes wrong.
In the grand scheme of things, I really enjoyed my time with the Q50S. It feels fun, playful, luxurious, and it has all the right equipment. I love the way it looks, and I really dig the new wheels for the 2015, but I still can’t help but feel that it’s not quite good enough to tempt me away from a 3 Series. This is a crowded segment that gets better every year. The 3 Series, A4 and Mercedes C-Class are obviously great cars, and the new Cadillac ATS certainly isn’t a slouch. In this company the Q50S needs to me more than good, it needs to be great if it wants to stand out.
If you want a great RWD sedan in the $40-50k bracket, and you want it look unique and interesting, the Q50S is a hell of a car. But if you want the absolute best driving experience, or the greatest level of horsepower, you may be better suited looking elsewhere. Either way, you can’t really go wrong anymore. There is no bad choice.