The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is not only the new generation of the company's popular entry-level luxury sport sedan, it also serves to herald Infiniti's new naming strategy. Infiniti passenger cars will have "Q" designations, while SUVs all have "QX" in their names. The Q50 might use a different name, but it is essentially the latest generation of the car we knew and loved as the G37 and G25.
With a bolder-looking snout, smoother curves, subtle character lines and available 19-inch wheels, the 2014 Q50 looks like a proper evolution of the Infiniti G series and every bit a luxury sport sedan. As before, there's a welcoming, well-trimmed cabin that this year has things kicked up a notch in terms of luxury ambience.
The Infiniti Q50 comes standard with a 3.7-liter V6 that sends 328 horsepower to the rear wheels; all-wheel drive is optional. For the first time, there's a hybrid version as well, and the Q50 Hybrid boasts 354 hp and a very impressive 31 mpg combined fuel economy EPA estimate.
The Infiniti Q50 also features a variety of new technologies. Direct Adaptive Steering is an optional (standard on hybrid), all-electric steering system that Infiniti says allows for quicker responses, improved steering feel and four different driver-selectable settings. In practice, however, we didn't care for it due to its artificial and inconsistent feel. There's also Active Lane Control, which can sense changing road surfaces or crosswinds and then automatically make minor steering corrections, thus reducing driver effort and fatigue. Finally, the Q50 features a new, twin-touchscreen electronics interface as well as added collision-prevention-based safety systems.
Amid all that change, the 2014 Infiniti Q50 mostly retains the spirited personality of the G series line. We say mostly because dynamically it's a mixed bag. The powerful V6 moves the car with impressive authority, but the use of all-season run-flat tires on most trim levels equates to subpar handling when the car is driven hard through turns.
Opting for the Sport trim level sadly doesn't make much difference, as the conservative stability control system still keeps cornering limits on the low side for a sport sedan. The hybrid version is also disappointing due to its strange steering and braking action, as well as its lower than expected fuel economy during our testing. Another downside: Infiniti doesn't offer the Q50 with a frugal four-cylinder engine, meaning its starting MSRP is a little higher than most competitors.
Overall, the 2014 Q50 could still merit consideration among rivals such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. More serious driving enthusiasts will be disappointed in the Q50's ultimate handling capabilities. But if you mainly want a well-built entry-level luxury sedan boasting plenty of advanced technology features, the Q50 should easily satisfy.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 comes in two main variants: Q50 and Q50 Hybrid. The regular Q50 comes in base, Premium and Sport trim levels. The Q50 Hybrid comes only in Premium and Sport trims. All-wheel drive (AWD) is available for every trim.
The base Q50 comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED foglights, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (heated on AWD models). Standard electronic features include Infiniti's new InTouch electronics interface (with twin touchscreen displays and smartphone app integration), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and two iPod/USB audio interface ports.
The Premium adds a sunroof, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 14-speaker Bose sound system and a multimedia monitor/display. Springing for the Sport adds a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires, leather seating, a sport driver seat (with power lumbar and additional bolster adjustments), aluminum pedal trim and paddle shifters.
The Q50 Hybrid versions of the Premium and Sport are also nearly identical. Leather upholstery comes standard on the Hybrid Premium, and all Hybrids have Infiniti's Direct Adaptive Steering (which offers four different steering responsiveness settings) and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel.
Options are mostly offered for the Premium and Sport trim levels, as the base Q50 can only be equipped with the optional sunroof. On the non-hybrid Q50 Premium, you can add the 19-inch wheels with summer tires (rear-wheel drive), leather upholstery and a navigation system. The navigation system is also optional for all Sport models.
With those two items in place, the non-hybrid Q50 Premium and Sport models can be enhanced with the Deluxe Touring package that includes adaptive steering, auto-dimming sideview mirrors, a 360-degree camera parking system, front and rear parking sensors, the power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, driver memory settings, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with pass-through.
The Technology package (which requires the Deluxe Touring package) features adaptive headlights with automatic high beam control, blind-spot/lane departure warning and intervention systems, an upgraded climate control system with an air purifier, adaptive cruise control, and forward and back-up collision warning and prevention.
Instead of those packages, the Q50 Hybrid Premium and Sport models offer a Deluxe Technology package. It bundles the features from the Deluxe Touring and Technology packages.
The Q50 continues Infiniti tradition with a cleanly styled cabin that features rich materials (with a choice of genuine aluminum or wood accents), supportive seats and ample room front and rear. The Sport model's front seats also provide power-adjustable bolsters to further tailor lateral support.
The biggest interior change this year is the handsome, down-sweeping center stack that houses a new large central touchscreen. Actually, the new InTouch electronics interface utilizes two stacked displays (8-inch and 7-inch) that offer drivers the ability to display and customize different information on each screen. The touchscreen interface works pretty well, as do smartphone app integration and the redundant controller for the navigation system. In our experience, though, the screens can wash out in direct sunlight.
Thankfully, InTouch continues Infiniti's philosophy of providing user-friendly infotainment interfaces. There are redundant hard buttons for both the climate control and audio systems arranged logically around the lower touchscreen. We wish the radio also had a traditional tuning knob rather than a rocker switch, but overall we like the touchscreen's large virtual buttons and ease of smartphone integration.
Trunk capacity for non-hybrid Q50 models measures 13.5 cubic feet, which is pretty roomy for this class of car. The Infiniti Q50 Hybrid's battery pack and related components reduce that number to 9.4 cubes.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 with 328 hp and 269 pound-feet of torque. The Q50 Hybrid has a 3.5-liter V6 that joins forces with a 50-kilowatt electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack for a combined output of 354 hp. All Q50s come with a seven-speed automatic, as there's no manual transmission option. Rear-wheel drive is standard, while all-wheel drive is optional.
Fuel economy for the rear-drive Q50 is an EPA estimated 23 mpg combined (20 mpg city/29 mpg highway). Choosing all-wheel drive lowers those numbers slightly to 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/27 mpg highway). The rear-drive Q50 Hybrid earns 31 mpg combined (29 city/36 highway), while the AWD version comes in at 30 mpg combined (28 mpg city/35 mpg highway). In our testing, however, the Hybrid struggled to meet these numbers.
In other Edmunds testing, a rear-wheel-drive Q50 Premium accelerated from zero to 60 mph in a swift 5.5 seconds, while the hybrid did the same sprint in just 5.2 seconds.
Acceleration from the 2014 Infiniti Q50's V6 is so strong that you might mistake it for a V8. The finely calibrated automatic transmission is also on point, quickly stepping down a few gears when you need a burst of power to merge swiftly onto a fast-moving freeway or pass an 18-wheeler on the highway.
Although the hybrid version is even quicker, it doesn't seem nearly as smooth. In normal driving, its transition from electric to gas propulsion at lower speeds can be heard and felt. Although not jarring by any stretch, this is still not something we'd expect in a premium hybrid sedan when the same process goes by virtually unnoticed in a Prius.
When the road throws the Q50 a few curves, the jock personality that Infinitis have long been known for is largely missing. All versions of the Infiniti Q50 except the Sport are fitted with standard all-season run-flat tires, and they offer such meager amounts of grip through turns that the car feels noticeably less entertaining on back roads than rivals like the 3 Series and ATS. And although the Q50 Sport is fitted with high-performance summer tires, ultimate cornering ability is still subpar.
The hybrid version is simply odd in terms of dynamics, as its electronically actuated steering feels inconsistent, as does its braking action. The steering lacks feedback and, in Sport mode, is just too stiff. The brakes can get grabby while coming to a stop, despite the driver's smooth pedal modulation.
Ride quality is similarly mixed. The Q50's suspension dispatches truly bumpy pavement well, but the sedan feels slightly fidgety on roads that aren't perfectly smooth. It's not that the Q50 rides poorly, it's just that the choppiness never quite goes away on highway drives. We'd be prepared to accept this trade-off in a focused performance sedan capable of carving up twisty roads, but in non-Sport trim, the Q50 is more of a luxury sedan than a sporty one and ought to provide a more forgiving ride as a result.
Every Infiniti Q50 sedan comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. A rearview camera is standard on all Q50 trims. The Infiniti Connection service includes roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle reporting and remote door unlocking.
Available safety features (grouped in various packages) include a 360-degree parking camera system, front and rear parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot/lane departure warning and prevention, and forward/back-up collision warning systems (which can automatically apply the brakes if a collision is deemed imminent). There's also Active Lane Control which can sense changing road surfaces or crosswinds and automatically add minor steering corrections, thus reducing driver effort and fatigue.
In our testing, we recorded a 60-0 mph stopping distance for a Q50 Premium of 123 feet, which is about average for cars in this segment wearing all-season tires. A Q50 Hybrid Sport with its summer tires performed the feat in 117 feet -- longer than average for a sport sedan wearing summer performance tires.
In government crash tests, the 2014 Infiniti Q50 earned an overall rating of five stars with four stars in front crash tests and five start in side crash and rollover tests. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety the Infiniti Q50 earned a Top Safety Pick with an overall rating of "Good."
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is an all-new model. It essentially supersedes the G37 sedan, bringing with it new styling and new technology features. (Infiniti will continue selling the G37, however). A hybrid-powered Q50 is also new.