Freshened Infiniti Q50 still big on power, style

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When the first generation Q50 compact luxury sedan was introduced, I was among the journalists that gave it an early shakedown. During the media program, the journalists present concurred that the shape was good, the power and interior were competitive, but the ride was not. Today, the form is still appealing, power from the V6 is strong, though I’d say the ride, at best, still needs more tweaking.

I recently tested the 2018 Infiniti Q50 3.0t Sport AWD sedan.

My tester came with the Essential, ProAssist, Performance and Sensory packages. The Q50 has great lines and thankfully Infiniti chose to leave them alone.

My tester was the Sport model and the overall presentation is striking. It came with handsome dark chrome accents, a larger front chin spoiler, new LED-accented headlights, black mirror caps, and 19-inch alloy wheels in black chrome. The Q50 finishes with a subtle spoiler and black surround exhaust ports.

The Q50’s most notable changes include a new steering wheel, stitched dash, revised lighting and a new shifter handle. The two-screen infotainment system is carried over and is surrounded by two rows of buttons. I found the double-screens distracting, but function-packed. The audio system was luxury-class.

The best part of the interior is the comfort of the front seats. Rear seating is tight and headroom is ok for tall passengers. The rear door size and shape could be better for entry/exit. Cargo room is exceptionally generous at 18 cubic feet.

On the road, the Q50 is a mixed bag. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter’s power is robust across the board. Unlike many turbo engines, the 3.0 has immediate power with almost imperceptible turbo lag. I also enjoyed the roar this engine emits when you jump on the throttle. In contrast, many of the Q50’s luxury competitors offer standard 4-cylinder engines and they come up short against the Q50’s standard six.

You can drive the Q50 aggressively in short bursts, and the suspension tuned with the optional Dynamic Digital Suspension package provides a decent balance of handling with overall passenger comfort. There is some slight understeer when you push this car in a corner. As for steering – feedback is not great, a bit twitchy and it required constant input.

Every Q50 engine is backed by a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. In low-speed driving and for boulevard cruising it works fine. However, start to get aggressive, or try and call on it to continually make a performance move and you’ll see a different side. It’s slower to respond and it definitely holds the engine back from being all it can be.

As a premium sedan, I did note that it was very quiet, with minor wind noise and tire noise from the meaty 19-inch wheels.

So, is the 2018 Infiniti 3.0t Q50 Sport able to keep up with the German elite – in certain areas yes, but in others it is ‘no.’ Where the Q50 excels is in its gorgeous looks, strong engine power and its quiet competent around-town ride.

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