Competition in the entry-level luxury sports sedan segment is fierce, but the Infiniti Q50 sets itself apart from the competition with slinky styling and a serious dose of technology. And, thanks to a complete overhaul of its powertrain lineup last year, the Q50 is now more appealing to more buyers.
Updates for the Q50 for 2017 are minimal, focusing primarily on equipment. The optional Bose sound system is upgraded to feature 16 speakers, and there's a new Design Package which is available on gas-powered V6 models. It adds quilted Graphite or Havana premium leather with contrast stitching, a black headliner, and Maple wood and Dark Chrome interior trim. Three new colours have been added to the range for 2017: Dynamic Sunstone Red, Midnight Black, and Pure White.
The Q50 is available in four different trim lines, each with a different powertrain. Regardless of engine, all feature a seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive.
The 2.0t uses a Mercedes-Benz-developed 2.0-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder that develops 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and is rated at 10.7 L/100 km city and 8.4 highway.
The 3.0t receives a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine, used exclusively in Infiniti products. 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque are on tap, and it's rated at 12.6 L/100 km city and 8.8 highway. An optional Sport package adds magnesium paddles for shifting, adaptive dampers, upgraded brakes, and a front valance with sporty styling.
Elevating the Q50's performance credentials is the Red Sport 400, which uses a tuned version of the 3.0t engine which develops 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Its understated looks make it something of a sleeper, distinguished only by its polished tailpipes, and, new for 2017, red-painted brake calipers. While not a track-focused machine like the Cadillac ATS-V or BMW M3, its 400 horsepower sets it apart from performance models like the BMW 340i and Lexus IS 350. Oddly, the Red Sport 400 consumes less in the city (12.3 L/100 km) than the 3.0t, but slightly more on the highway (9.2).
Last but not least is the Q50 Hybrid, which pairs a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 engine with an electric engine and a compact lithium-ion battery pack. In total, the system produces 360 horsepower, which is enough to propel it to 100 km/h in around five and a half seconds. The Q50 Hybrid is the only AWD hybrid luxury sports sedan presently sold in Canada. As you'd expect, it's the most economical of the lot with a fuel economy rating of 9.1 L/100 km city and 7.7 on the highway.
While some the Q50's competitors offer features such as adaptive damping and variable-ratio steering, the Q50 takes things one step further. Other than the Q60 Coupe, the Q50 is the only vehicle on the market to feature a steer-by-wire, which uses sensors and digital signals in place of a traditional power steering system. In addition, the system automatically varies the steering ratio for a tighter or more relaxed feel and filters feedback from the road such as kickback from potholes. While Infiniti has improved the steering setup last year, it's best to try this feature on an extended test drive before signing up for it.
Other high-tech features for the Q50 include a dual-screen infotainment system with a glossy high-resolution lower display with tablet-style controls, a predictive forward collision warning and emergency autonomous braking system that takes into account potential objects that are outside of the driver's point of view. A 360-degree parking camera, lane-keeping assist, and Backup Collision Intervention - a sort of reverse autonomous braking - are also available, making this a very safe choice indeed.
Pricing for the new Q50 2.0t starts at $39,900, with the Red Sport 400 selling for $52,600. The Hybrid retails for $56,400.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed