The Infiniti Q50: A Compelling Package

The tag on the key fob says, “Red Sport.” It suggests that the Q50 sport sedan on loan to us from Infiniti is built to thrill. It suggests that a twin-turbocharged V6 sits under the sculpted bonnet, ready to send 400 horses through the rear wheels, which in turn will encourage our adrenal glands to dose our brains with massive amounts of epinephrine.

Turns out, though, that the tag is wrong. Our borrowed Infiniti is just the standard Q50 3.0t Sport. So that means no shots of adrenaline, 100 fewer horsepower, and a ride tuned with a mind for luxury. But let’s be honest: it’s hard to be disappointed when we still get to spend a week in a new luxury car, and the Infiniti Q50 3.0t Sport is a ride that still deserves a spin.

The Look

As a brand, Infiniti has no qualms with wearing its performance aspirations on its sleeve. So it should come as no surprise that its Q50 Sport sedan carries more than a hint of “boy racer” in its design. Yes, there are some sensuous curves to admire here, and we commend the Japanese luxury brand for trying to create its own take on BMW’s famous “Hofmeister Kink” (that character line that sweeps up from the bottom of the C-pillar). But with its “angry eye” headlamps, mesh grille, aggressive stance, and minimal bright work, the Q50 suggests that it’s more about attitude than opulence.

The Interior

The sweeping curves from the exterior flow into the Q50’s interior, helping this cabin stand apart from the minimalist, straight-lined spaces favored by the German car makers. A dual-wave dash surrounds the front occupants, providing a cockpit-like feeling and further driving home the notion that this sedan is a driver’s car. Almost every major surface is trimmed in leather, with textured metal and hand-polished wood accents making up the hard points. Cabin noise is minimal, save for some subtle engine growl specially tuned to please the ears of enthusiasts.

All of the technology one expects is present here, meaning that Bluetooth connectivity, blind spot monitoring, pre-collision warnings, and more all come standard. But as cars become ever more computer-like, some of this user-facing tech can start to feel dated. The Q50 utilizes a dual-screen set-up on the center stack, with the lower screen doubling as key interface point. It works fine, but the lower-resolution screen feels old – like an iPhone 3G. While this was all state-of-the-art when the car was first engineered back in 2012, capacitive touch-screen displays have come a long way since then.

The Drive

The Infiniti Q50 3.0t Sport aims to be a driver’s car, and it’s got the mechanical goods to help it do the job. As mentioned, this car comes powered by a 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 rated at 300 horsepower. The engine also has a healthy 295 lb-ft of torque — all of which is available from 1,600 to 5,200 rpm — to put on-demand passing power directly at your right foot. A seven-speed automatic transmission comes standard, with race car-inspired magnesium paddle shifters for added control. This car also features a Dynamic Digital Suspension system that automatically adjusts dampening on the fly, as well as full electric steering that uses 1s and 0s to turn the front wheels.

These latter technologies are designed to let this luxury sedan constantly adapt to changing driving and road conditions. So: soft on the bumpy stuff, firm and controlled in the twisties. And in practice, the result is — well, okay. All those digital controls do the jobs they’re supposed to do, but there is a definite sense of disconnection from the overall driving experience. There’s that split-second lag between input and action that keeps this car from living up to its promise of performance. And because the Q50 3.0t Sport wants to be a performance car, it remains too rough around the edges to be a true luxury cruiser as well. When cruising around town or on the freeway, it’s all good, but a corner carver this car is not.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to like about the Infiniti Q50 3.0t Sport; it offers a fair amount of comfort and performance in a package that is truly nice to look at. While we’d prefer to see this car embrace either its performance or comfort sides, the car still offers a compelling package as is. Comfort-minded drivers would probably be better served by the softer Q50 3.0t Signature Edition. As for us, we’re hoping to get into a proper Q50 Red Sport to really see what the performance side of Infiniti is all about.