2015 Infiniti Q50 2.0 GT car review
Robert Pepper’s 2015 Infiniti Q50 2.0 GT car review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and rating.
How we rated the Infiniti Q50 2.0 GT – 7.5
Practical Motoring Says : The Q50 is a reasonably well appointed semi-sports sedan that is easy to use for both drivers and passengers and rates well for safety. If you want a not-bad handling car nobody's ever heard of then this is for you.
On the outside
You rock up to a party and say “I’ve got a new BMW” and nobody will think it’s an 80-inch TV, because love them or hate them, everybody knows what a BMW is. Same deal for Mercedes, probably even Lexus.
But Infiniti has a public perception problem because hardly anyone knows who they are. Research amongst twenty or so random non-car friends (about all I’ve got!) indicated that whatever money the company is spending on marketing is perhaps misdirected. Some sample responses – “is that one of the Hondas” (twice), “are they Korean (twice)”, “do they make hifis”, “do they make hard disks” and “is that one of the new Chinese mobs”.
Depending on your point of view, this is either good or bad – you either enjoy everyone not knowing what you drive, or you don’t. And, nobody knew Infiniti was part of the Red Bull racing team that won four Formula 1 world and constructor championships. They mostly knew of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber though, and “that new young bloke whatisname” (Daniel Riccardio!)
For the record, Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand. Easiest way to describe it is that Infiniti is to Nissan what Lexus is to Toyota.
So, with that dealt with, onto the styling which is rather blandly Japanese/Korean. To the eyes of the people I showed it to the Q50 doesn’t look especially classy, definitely not ugly, or eyecatchingly beautiful. It’s just…averagely undistinguished. Anyway, judge for yourself.
Room & Practicality
Starting in the middle, the Q50 is nominally a five-seater, but it’s rear wheel drive and therefore has a massive hump in the second row to accommodate the drivetrain. Call it a 4+1 then.
No adult of average size is going to want to spend any time sat in the second-row centre position, but the other four will journey in decent comfort. However, there are no side pockets on the second row doors, although there are dual rear pockets on the back of the two front seats. All four windows are one-touch up/down, and all fully retract into the doors. Another is the backlight on the exterior doorhandles. Those are the little details that start to separate good cars from merely average, but it’s a pity the Q50 doesn’t have more of them.
Into the front and there’s plenty of room for the occupants. The front seats are very comfortable, something Infiniti spent a lot of time on. Stylish too, nicely adjustable and offering good support.
The problem in the front is a general lack of storage space. The glovebox has little room left over once the owner’s manual is inside. Electrical power is well catered for with two 12v sockets and 2 USB ports. But for some reason all four are right next to each other in the centre console, which is inconvenient to say the least. The centre console is small to begin with, and having four outlets inside doesn’t help. It’s also not a dual compartment console. In short, the Q50 could use its space for storage a lot better than it does.
The boot is spacious, as you’d hope given there is no spare wheel, just a towhook and a wheelbrace but not even a jack. There’s a lack of tie-down points and decent illumination, small points you’d hope would be addressed in this class of car. The second row seats have a hatch to access the boot so you can store long objects.
On the inside
Everything is reasonably well appointed and contributes towards a general air of cohesion, if not elegance. There are no glaring mismatches where two designers worked apart and never met. The car has many functions, and these are easier to use than most of its competitors; there’s two touchscreens, so you can have the navigation going as well as checking settings or the radio, everything works logically and consistently, related switches are grouped together. The touchscreens are nicely quick to respond too, and there’s a control dial which can be used as well as the screens. You could argue there’s a third screen on the instrument panel, which is intelligently linked to the other two.
Voice recognition is about the best I’ve used, not only for its ability to understand but its design – it presents a list of options just in case it misunderstands.
Modern vehicles have a plethora of electronic features which are a real road safety problem as distracted drivers attempt to figure them out, but Infiniti have set the bar high for modern vehicle usability and thus safety – other manufacturers should take careful notes. It’s just as well the car is easy to use because the paper manual isn’t, with cross-references that simply don’t exist.
An unusual feature is that all the controls, including navigation, remain available when the vehicle is in motion. Good job, Infiniti, now the passenger can be put to use! Unfortunately, some functions appear to be enabled when on the move but actually aren’t, for example the tyre pressure monitoring system reset.
But one jarring note. The Q50 has a system for detecting drowsy drivers. I don’t know how it works, but after 20 minutes in a morning commute the car regularly reminded me I needed to take a break. No thanks!
There’s also an Eco Drive report. This is entirely pointless as you just need to refer to the fuel consumption to see how you’re going. Almost as pointless is the built-in G-meter. You will never have a chance to look at this if you’re driving, so it’s a passenger-only plaything, and really should be left in the Nissan GT-R from whence it came. There’s no record mode on it either, not that the Q50 is intended as a racetrack weapon.
Performance, Ride & Handling
Let’s use Infiniti’s very own words to set the expectation: ” As a performance luxury car maker, Infiniti cars are driver’s cars, delivering agile handling, responsive steering, and strong acceleration from every V6 and V8 engine.”
So that is the yardstick for measurement. I think I’d give them 5/10 on achievement based on the Q50. First, the Q50 is no snarling, super sports sedan in the mould of say a BMW M3 or Mercedes C63 AMG, but it doesn’t cost anywhere near as much for starters, and there’s the 3.5V6 Q50, plus Q60 and Q70 above it in the range.
The Q50 GT is what I’d call a semi-sports sedan. Initially, I thought it was quite average but as I spent more time in the car and got into the twisty bits it was a pleasant but not surprising discovery to find it handles much better than say a Maxima or Camry, with a sharpness and agility that will see enthusiast drivers perhaps not grinning but certainly quietly appreciating they’re not in some front-drive stodgemobile. Acceleration is not going to reorganise your internal organs, but it’s sufficient to crack on nicely and you cannot tell when the turbo kicks in. When punching out of slow-speed corners is apparent the car needs a limited-slip differential like most powerful rear-drivers. First gear is a bit too high to be impressive off a standing start, which is disappointing given the engineers had seven ratios to play with. They probably selected the ratios based on the more powerful engines, not a great sign of attention to detail. There are just two stability control setting, on and off, no sport mode.
There is one truly excellent piece of engineering and that is the brakes, which are superb. Powerful, feelsome and thoroughly confidence-inspiring. Top job, Infiniti.
The ride comfort is on the average side of mediocre. It’s a little stiffer than a normal sedan as you’d expect from the sports orientation, but workable enough and there’s never any problem getting power to the ground. The suspension does have a tendency to thump over larger undulations, not something easily forgiven in the class the Q50 aspires to.
Steering is electrically assisted, and not one of the finer examples of the design. There are two settings, Heavy and Light but very little difference between them. The steering is quick, but not particularly engaging.
The seven-speed auto gets it right most of the time but to really crack on you’ll need the manual shift. There are no paddleshifts, which is fine by me but an omission that will mean more to others. The gearshift is forwards to change up, pull back to change down which is against the most recent trend for pull-back-change up.
There are three driving modes – Standard, Sport, Snow and Personal, which allows you to customise the car. Sport makes the engine note louder and throatier – although it’s still a small-dog bark rather than a big-cat roar – as well as change the gearshift pattern to hang on to gears for longer and change own earlier. Snow deadens the throttle response to reduce the chances of wheelspin in slippery conditions. Standard works well, but Sport is a welcome sharpening for enthusiast drivers.
In summary the Q50 is a cut above the average sedan for handling and performance at this price point, but falls short of benchmarks in what is a very competitive class for medium-sized sports sedans.
Everything is very well built and finished, certainly well up to its class norms and even beyond. No rattles, concerns, odd gaps. The Q50 has an air of solidity. The one spoiler is the low-rent steering wheel which is a drab grey and made of hard plastic.
The stop/start system which works well, but only leaves the engine off for a few seconds and is rather rough on the restart.
Pricing & Equipment
This review marks a landmark for me as it is the turning point – I’m going to criticise a car for *not*having active cruise control, which is now expected given where Infiniti is trying to compete. There’s just forward parking sensors. Other than that, everything you’d want is there. I’m also going to mark it down for having a foot-operated parkbrake when everything else is going electronic. There are no features that are unusual or particularly well done to lift the car above average on this criterion.
Fuel is 95RON as usual for this class of vehicle, but you can use limited amounts of 91 provided you fill up quickly with 95 and don’t accelerate too hard. The 80L fuel tank is a pretty decent size, so it’ll be a long time between fills.
There’s also a 2.2l turbodiesel Q50, and a 3.5L V6 hybrid which has 268kW compared to this model’s 155, so should be a lot quicker. That model is available in rear wheel drive or all wheel drive. The higher-end models add even more gadgets and safety features, including autonomous emergency braking.
Safety is 5 star, but on the high side of 5 star with 35.76 out of 37 including an impressive 16 out if 16 on the side impact test. Tyres are runflats, so this is not your first choice of vehicle for extended rural runs. I tested the system by letting a tyre down and it was duly detected with first a warning to put more air in, and then a demand to be taken to the dealer once the tyre was entirely flat. It is not good to drive on runflats with no air in them so I didn’t, and just reinflated the tyre. However, that confused the system which correctly reported 35psi in the tyre but refused to change its colour from red back to green. Infiniti say because the air was let out of the tyre quickly (over about 10 minutes as it happened) the normal reset won’t work, so it’s a dealer job. Oops, sorry Infiniti!