2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Review: So close to being great
– Detroit, Michigan
You’ve got to pity the Infiniti Q50’s struggle to please my fickle tastes. When it was loaded up with its hottest engine in Red Sport 400 trim, I loved the power but hated the steering and handling. This tamer, less powerful model appeases my need for realistic steering feel and heft, but leaves me wanting a livelier powertrain. Like the Three Bears of Goldilocks, I haven’t yet found a Q50 that is just right. This particular test car, a 2.0t Premium AWD model, is a perfectly nice luxury sedan, but always leaves me wanting just a little bit more in several areas.
- Three cheers for realistic steering feel. I’ve never liked the glitchy, often-recalled, and horrifically artificial Direct Adaptive Steer system in other versions of the Q50. Fortunately, this 2.0t model has an old-school electro-mechanical power steering mechanism. There’s a reassuring heft and predictability to the Infiniti’s system; I can always tell exactly how the front wheels will respond to my input, with weighting and resistance that accurately relays information about grip and cornering speed.
- The Q50’s design has grown on me, to the point where I now actually quite like this Hagane Blue tester’s appearance. When the car was revealed at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, I found the Q50 soft, bulbous, and uninspiring. In the three years since, however, I’ve come around to appreciate its understated curves and creases. This car transmits a luxurious vibe and has a wide, planted stance. There’s just enough visual flair to grab attention, even if the Q50 isn’t the most dramatically styled luxury sedan out there.
- Like any good luxury car, the Q50 keeps its occupants as happy as if they weren’t in a car at all. There’s plenty of sound deadening to keep the cabin quiet, and combined with the soft ride, any freeway journey feels shorter than it really is in this car. The ride quality is especially notable, and I thank, in part, the 17-inch wheels. With relatively large sidewalls (225/55R17 tires) providing lots of squish, harsh impacts rarely make it from pavement to passengers.
- I really want more liveliness and urgency out of the 2.0-liter turbo-four. It’s not that the engine isn’t strong – 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque are decent figures in a vacuum – it’s that the Q50 doesn’t comport itself with the hustle and speed of many of its four-cylinder luxury-sedan rivals. After all, most of them have more power on offer: 248 hp in the BMW 330i, 252 hp in the Audi A4, 241 hp in the Mercedes-Benz C300, and so on. Compared to those, the Q50 2.0t just doesn’t feel that quick; I find myself digging pretty deep into the throttle in normal driving.
- Infiniti’s in-car electronics lag behind the whiz-bang features available in competitors. Compared to the slick, polished graphics of the Audi A4’s Virtual Cockpit dashboard, for instance, the Q50’s small trip computer looks like it’s 20 years older. And the split-screen infotainment system’s low-res graphics and convoluted menu systems feel more Windows 98 than iOS 10. If it sounds like nit-picking, remember that this Q50 is a $42,705 luxury sedan designed to surround its owner with technology and style.
- The downside of the aforementioned cushy ride quality? The Q50’s handling qualifies as perfectly average within this class. Again, I love the feel and feedback from the electro-hydraulic steering, but pushing through twisty roads in the Infiniti isn’t as energizing or as rewarding as in a Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3 Series – cars that still manage to provide a luxury-car ride.
- Acura TLX
- Alfa Romeo Giulia
- Audi A4
- BMW 330i
- Cadillac ATS 2.0T
- Lexus IS 200t
- Mercedes-Benz C300
- Volvo S60
Photos: Jake Holmes / Motor1.com