The luxe brands of the Asian automakers suffer from an inferiority complex. Clearly, the Europeans rule the luxury segment, with BMW, Audi, Volvo and Mercedes far bigger in name recognition and overall performance stats. Infinity is Nissan’s luxury entry, and while the edge may go to the Europeans in dynamics, we got into a sedan that had road capabilities to burn. We’re still wondering why it took so long.
We got into this car, drove about a mile, and felt like going back to the rental car counter.
“Someone put an Infiniti badge on this Tesla.”
The turbo charged V6, at just 300 horsepower, was that quick.
So the surprises began and just kept giving, with a couple of blips.
Nissan’s luxury brand, Infiniti, kicks out a slate gray four-door, rear wheel drive sedan. The ride is smooth, even with the standard 18-inch wheels, which become 19 inches on the sport model. The run-flat tires should be switched out to get the best ride.
The long hood reminds a little of the BMW, but this is a purely Asian model, born in a factory north of Tokyo, and has the rigid steering to prove it. The tight turning and small steering wheel take some adjusting, especially if you have a German car as your primary whip, but with the responsive engine, it became routine within ten minutes of city driving.
The tech is easy and adaptive, mostly controllable via steering wheel buttons, with two touchscreens, an 8-inch up high and a 7-inch below. The sound through the Bose speakers is thundering and clear. We paired the phone easily and Apple CarPlay worked easily, and the cockpit is clean and simple, the black leather giving out a familiar warmth.
The Q50 is in one of the headiest spaces in sedans, where the BMW 3-series, the Lexus IS and the Audi 4 play, and it keeps the pace with gusto. This model came with rear-wheel drive, as we mentioned, but AWD is also available.
Ahem. Anyone who has driven in the snow or ice knows that being caught with rear-wheel drive is a problem, and you’ll be slipping on or off the road unless you’ve outfitted it with snow tires. Even then, the fact that the engine is only engaging the rear wheels gives rise to trouble in tight spots.
The biggest gripe in the Q50 is the so-called safety features, which include lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and forward collision warning.
What it means is you may be driving in cruise control and when you come up behind another vehicle, the car automatically slows down. If you change lanes without signaling, beepers go off. This can seriously mess with your driving, so watch it.
One more thing: The 22 mpg we got from a blend of highway/city driving is the cost of the turbo engine. We understand it doesn’t have to be this way, but until sanity returns to fuel prices, we’ll make do.
We’ve driven the Infiniti SUV line and came away unimpressed, feeling there was too much American-wannabe-ism in the design and drive. Infiniti can’t be an Escalade, so why try? Better, who would want to be a clunky fat American? In the sedan segment, Infiniti is in its lane.
While some esteemed car reviewers have been less than kind to the Q50 over the years – “Q50 is neither as luxurious nor as fun to drive as its best competitors” says one – parting with the herd is sometimes called for. We found it stylish and comfortable, and using it made it a pleasure to drive in traffic, on rural roads and superhighways. The quiet cabin, the scary quick engine and the luxe vibe makes this a victory.