When the Infiniti Q50 sports sedan was introduced for the 2014 model year, it was big news, for its styling and its suite of technologies, such as its world’s first Direct Adaptive Steering, Active Lane Control and Predictive Forward Collision Warning. Now, just a few years later, the Q50 has been updated, which makes it even better.

The old Infiniti V6 engines were the VQ series and they were used in almost every Nissan and Infiniti model. The new VR series engines have been developed to provide drivability, efficiency and performance. Around 85 percent of the parts used in the VR-series V6 are different from those in the previous VQ-series V6.

The all-new power unit is 19 percent smaller in capacity than the Q50’s previous 3.7-liter V6, and it adopts a series of technologies to deliver a more engaging driving experience. Chief among these is a new direct-injection gasoline system. The high-pressure DI system allows for more precise injection of fuel into the combustion chamber, delivering the exact amount required depending on throttle position and engine speed. This system makes the new V6 the cleanest and most fuel-efficient engine of its type that Infiniti has ever offered, contributing to the 6.7 percent improvement in fuel economy.

The VR-series’ power delivery is enhanced through an advanced new twin-turbo system, which enables immediate responses under acceleration, while aiding efficiency. An optimized turbine blade design helps the engine generate greater overall performance, with faster turbine revolution speeds. You will know the system is working well because it does not feel like a turbocharged engine, with very linear and quick power delivery.

The engine also features a water-cooled intercooler to further improve performance and efficiency. The system rapidly cools air as it enters the twin-turbo system, improving performance. The secondary result is a cooling system that is more compact, meaning a shorter flow path for air entering the turbocharger to enable quicker engine response. A new electronic waste-gate actuator allows closer control of exhaust gas flow away from the turbocharger, restricting the amount of exhaust gas flowing through the unit to improve overall engine efficiency.

The high-output version, which is standard in the range-topping Q50 Red Sport 400, delivers 400 horsepower. The standard output version, offered in our Q50 3.0t produces 300 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 to 5,200 rpm.

Our VR engine was mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and steering column-mounted magnesium paddle shifters. The transmission comes with dual coolers to keep things cool even if you are driving aggressively or on a track.

Also making its debut is the second generation of Infiniti’s DAS. The drive-by-wire steering system received poor reviews after the first version debuted a few years ago. For the second iteration, engineers optimized the control logic to improve feedback from the road, fine-tuning parameters so the default setting better mimics the feeling drivers are used to from conventional systems.

Unfortunately as with any artificial system, it is never as good as the real thing. Admittedly, most drivers will never know that the steering wheel is not connected to the wheels. The Q50 does not drive poorly or do anything negatively. However that connected feel that is desirable in a performance vehicle is missing.

The new system provides more customization options, fully utilizing the potential that DAS offers, giving drivers flexibility to choose the level of steering assistance and feedback according to personal preferences. It actively adjusts the steering ratio and effort according to vehicle speed. In slow-moving situations, such as city driving or parking, the system is tuned for ease of maneuverability. To further enhance the steering feel in sporty driving conditions, the steering effort gradually saturates with high lateral G-force and acceleration in line with the overall vehicle behavior.

Inside, the Q50 is pure Infiniti luxury, with great materials and soft leather. There are a few issues with switches that are hard to see and a lot of things must be accessed through various menus, but that is the norm these days with most cars. What is important is that the Q50 is a great car for long trips, to keep you comfortable and fresh. The front seats are comfortable and the rear seats provide the rear passengers with lots of room to stretch out. The car gobbles miles with ease and is a fantastic cruiser on the interstate. There is hardly any wind noise in the cockpit and the terrific stereo system can quickly put you in a different world as you listen to your favorite music. You also get a huge trunk, which is always nice for a car that sees long trips.

The 300 hp VR engine has two turbos, but it never really feels that quick. It does provide immediate power and does not feel like a turbocharged engine. Our AWD car weighed almost 4,000 pounds, which did not help acceleration. The Q50 returned 28 mpg on the highway and is rated at only 19 mpg in the city. We averaged 25 mpg during mixed driving.

Pricing for the Q50 varies depending on how you option the car. The entry level Q50 2.0t starts out at $34,000 and comes with a four-cylinder turbo engine. Our Q50 3.0t AWD came in at $41,900. The top of the line Q50 hybrid AWD can set you back $49,050. That is a huge price gap that can be exploited to get you the best possible deal. Select your options carefully and you can end up with a bargain suited for your needs.

Specifications
Engine: QR30DDT, twin-turbo V6
Horsepower: 300 @ 6,400 rpm
Torque: 295 pound-feet @ 1,600-5,200 rpm
Front suspension: Independent double-wishbone with stabilizer bar
Rear suspension: Multilink independent with stabilizer bar
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Rear axle ratio: 2.94:1 limited slip
Curb Weight: 3,886 lbs.
Base MSRP: $41,900

 

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Image courtesy of INFINITI