We're doing final drives of new and updated vehicles from the 2015 model year, and one we've been keen on revisiting is the Infiniti Q50.
Our first drives were in pre-production cars, and with glitches in its dual-screen InTouch infotainment system and with its troublesome Direct Adaptive Steering steer-by-wire system, the Q50s we'd experienced felt as if they weren't ready for prime time.
"I want to love the Q50, but..." was how the chats kicked off, actually.
A shame, because the Q50's lovely shape and interior work so well on the foundation of the old G37, especially its excellent suspension tuning. With dual-flow rear shocks and a lot of sound deadening grafted on in the transition to a new generation, the Q50 was clearly ready to became an even better performer.
Fast-forward to this winter, when the car gods dropped a Q50S 3.7 with RAYS 19-inch wheels and summer tires into our garage. If you're wondering how we'd spec a Q50, this is it. It's the version that can roll with the best sport sedans of its size.
Better steering helps
A few things curry favor in this particular Q50. First, it sticks with the hydraulic steering that was a highlight of the G37 (now called the Q40). That alone, plus the summer treads, gives the Q50 S actual steering feedback, the kind you don't feel much anymore in any of the mid-size luxury sedans in its size class--even the vaunted BMW 3-Series, even our current crush, the Cadillac ATS. It's not at all wandery or vague, which some of us had felt in those early drives--which reconfirms our sentiment that, if you're shopping a base version of any of these sport sedans, you're getting a watered-down tune that doesn't ring as true to any of these brands. That, and you're probably leasing one. We much prefer the Q50 S, with hydraulic steering, sport suspension, and summer tires, thanks very much.
Critically, our car skipped the Direct Adaptive Steering system. The drive-by-wire experiment left us cold in initial drives, with awkward response and feedback. Infiniti's been improving the system, but we haven't been in one with the latest state of tune just yet. It's on the docket.
For power, the Q50 is competitive without adding on turbochargers you'll find in its rivals. In this tune, the Q50's 3.7-liter V-6 represents the best-ever state of noise and vibration control in Nissan's VQ engine family, but it's also probably the end of the line, in terms of development. New sixes are coming--but this one's delightful, with 328 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. It's less coarse than it was in the G37, though it revs more freely and mates better with the throttle-blipping seven-speed automatic. Missing from the equation: any manual transmission.
Styling ups, infotainment downs
Where the Q50 really distinguishes itself is in its suave lines and plus-size space. The new sheetmetal is simply striking. It combines the sensuality of the bigger Q70 in exotic new ways, especially at the exaggerated intersection of curves and surfaces behind its rear doors. The interior's style is money compared to any BMW 3-Series; it looks much richer and modern, even without some of the more expensive trim packages.
Inside, the driving position is nice and low, and the front seats have some of the high-density structure Nissan fitted to its Altima. They're are superb for long-distance comfort. Rear seat room is far better than the Cadillac ATS, the new C-Class, just about on par with the 3-Series. Yes, the wide center stack chews up some room, but it feels intimate--and intimate, not claustrophobic, is how a sport sedan should feel.