The Infiniti Q50 is the brand's attempt at taking on the premium executive sedan market. You know, the one dominated by the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and to a lesser extent Lexus. I can see why Infiniti wants to play in this space as Lexus has done extraordinarily well in the United States and has had some degree of success in South Africa. We were moderately impressed with the Q50 hybrid which we reviewed back in January 2015, but at R600 000 it's definitely a top of the range model. How does this 2,0T model fare?
2.0T Engine is ExcellentYou've got the option of diesel and petrol lower down in the Q50 ranks, and it's the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol we are reviewing here. This engine is a four-cylinder unit which offers 155kW and 350Nm of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a 7-speed gearbox with paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel make this sound like a bit of a performance car, and in reality the Q50 can get a move on.
There's a lag-free experience provided you keep the gearbox in sport mode and the engine pulls smoothly. Off the line you can expect to reach 100kph in about 7 seconds, which is pretty good.
Fuel economy is claimed at 7L/100km, but due to the weight of the car and how it drives, you'll be lucky to get under 10L/100km, which is about on par for the segment.
Dynamically, it's probably not as impressive as it could be, and ultimately loses out in the handling stakes. You get a sense that the car has been set up mostly for comfort and not enthusiastic driving, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're after a sportier drive, then you'll do no wrong in looking at the class-leading BMW 3 Series for thrills. I suspect it's a combination of weight and the lack of steering feel that makes the Infiniti feels less sporty than some rivals.
Good Comfort and SpecificationThe real strength of the Infiniti Q50 is its comfort and specification, the latter of which I'll get to shortly. This vehicle is a supremely comfortable mile-muncher and you can easily cover vast distances without feeling too drained upon arriving at your destination. Interestingly, the big alloy wheels didn't impact the ride quality as badly as we were expecting, but like most modern cars, you can expect the ride to become a little crashy over uneven tarmac.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Infiniti Q50's strength is its specification. You're getting a lot of car for your money here and things that are considered as pricey options in the competition are fitted as standard. For example, you get not one, but two infotainment screens, which differ in resolution and quality. The bottom one resembles a smart tablet with exceptional resolution, while the one on the top just feels like it's there to display a dot matrix digital clock (it actually delivers more information).
These are backed up by a full house infotainment system that features six speakers, CD player, Bluetooth streaming, iPod/USB ports as well as voice command. There's a multi-functional leather steering wheel too. The dashboard features Infiniti's new InTouch system with its mentioned dual LCD VGA touchscreens along with a fully customisable digital environment. Sound is provided by a Bose six-speaker system.
You also get dual-zone climate control, intelligent cruise control, automatic wipers, hill start assist, rear view camera and keyless accessibility. There's a full complement of safety features too with six airbags, traction control, tyre pressure warning system and brake assist.
And if that is not enough, then there are the spec option packs... The Multimedia pack costs R30 800 and comprises of a navigation system and a 14-speaker Bose audio system. The Visibility pack for R20 310 adds adaptive front lighting, smart beam and around view monitor. The R12 000 Steering Pack gives you Direct Adaptive Steering and Active Lane control to give a more customised and precise feel to the steering whilst maintaining a more central path within a lane without the need for minor steering adjustments. This may resolve the numb steering feel issue. Finally, you can get the Safety Shield Pack for R27 000 which adds Intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, blind spot warning and blind spot intervention, forward emergency braking, predictive forward collision warning, distance control assist and back up collision intervention.
Summary and ConclusionIt's not quite a segment-beating product, but as far as the Infiniti Q50 ranges goes, the 2.0T is the best offering for the money. That engine is excellent and the specification levels are generous, plus its priced lower than its immediate rivals. However a numb steering setup and tight cabin for tall passengers make it less desirable than say a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or BMW 3 Series. Nice enough car though, but the competition in this segment is super stiff.
Price in South AfricaThe Infiniti Q50 2.0T starts at R450 500 for the Premium model, while there is a Sport version costing R480 700. The vehicle comes with a 3 year/100 000km warranty and a 5 year/100 000km service plan with intervals every 15 000km.
We Like: Styling, great engine, generous specification, comfort, pricing
We don’t Like: Dealer footprint (or lack thereof), steering feel
Also consider: BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus IS