Formerly known as the G37, the Q50 benefits from a major refresh for 2016.
Words and pictures by David Miller for Autofile.ca.
Formerly known as the G37, the Q50 is now three model years into its new naming system and in its fifth-generation oveall. Currently, the mid-luxe sedan is the second-best selling Infiniti vehicle in Canada behind the QX60 SUV.
The 2016 Infiniti Q50 gets a major refresh but the changes can be found mostly under its skin. The biggest news is the availability of three new turbocharged engines to be available along with its hybrid offering. Infiniti has also made technological improvements to the Q50's suspension, steering and safety technology.
The Red Sport 400 is the top-rated engine choice – a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V-6 producing 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. It's matched to a seven-speed automatic transmission that has magnesium paddle shifters. Only available for Canada is Infiniti's rear-biased intelligent all-wheel drive system.
The base engine is a 208-horsepower, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder. It's the first turbo-four used by Infiniti and it comes straight from Daimler as a result of the limited technical partnership between the two. It can also be found in the Infiniti QX30. The next step up the engine ladder will be the volume-selling 3.0-litre V-6 that churns out 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Lastly, the Q50 retains the hybrid powertrain from its previous model year with a combined output of 360 horsepower.
It's hard to find a vehicle that is both quiet and powerful, but that's exactly how the Q50 Red Sport 400 felt on the streets of San Antonio. Initial acceleration is gradual with seamless gear shifts, but it gets up to speed quickly without much road noise.
The Q50's updated Dynamic Digital Suspension can adapt to various road conditions. I was impressed with its ride comfort and minimum body roll throughout the ride and the car was able to stay composed regardless of the terrain or man-made speed bumps it came across. The suspension firms up its dampers in Sport and Sport-plus mode.
Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) is Infiniti's version of an all-electronic steer-by-wire system. First introduced for the 2014 model year, the system was intended to filter out irritating steering vibrations and provide quicker responses than a mechanical version, but it was criticized for lack of road feel. For 2016, a second-generation system now offers customizable levels of steering feel and feedback. The new DAS also features re-tuned gear ratio, steering effort, and reaction time to driver inputs.
We tested the DAS tested on a handling track in San Antonio, Texas, performing multiple laps, first in a vehicle without the optional DAS, followed by one with it. When driving with DAS, the Q50 stayed composed and balanced with a much improved connection between the driver and the road. Without it, the Q50 still managed to navigate the course, but more steering corrections and input were needed.
The Q50 features a tonne of safety technology that includes Forward Emergency Braking, Back-up Collision Detection, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Active Lane Control and an Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection. Active Lane Control combined with Direct Adaptive Steering helps the dive stay within the identified lane and is considered Phase 1 of Infiniti's plan towards transitioning to autonomous driving.
According to Infiniti, the Q50's fuel consumption ratings for the 2.0-litre will be 10.6 L/100 km in the city and 8.4 on the highway. Those for the 300-hp V-6 Premium will be 12.3L/100 km in the city and 8.5 on the highway. The range-topping 400-hp Red Sport 400 will be rated at 12.8 L/100 km in the city and 9.1 on the highway. The hybrid version provides the most bang for your buck in terms of fuel consumed with ratings of 8.7L/100 km in the city and 7.6L/100 km on the highway.
Not much has changed with the Q50's 2016 styling as Infiniti has maintained the status quo in the looks department with a focus towards performance and technology. The mid-size sedan keeps its sleek silhouette and body lines that give it an aggressive, bold stance. The only exterior styling distinctions the Red Sport 400 gets are 'Q50S' red badging and special exhaust tips.
The Q50's most distinctive exterior feature is its front fascia, which is headlined by Infiniti's signature “double arch” grille. On either side of the grille are hawk-eye LED headlights, while swooping crease lines work their way vertically down the hood for a stylish look.
The interior design is nicely sculpted with an open and sweeping but organized theme. Many premium touches exist creating a sophisticated, yet modernly-styled cockpit. Infiniti's InTouch infotainment system is the central feature. It has a dual screen with the eight-inch top sceen typically used for navigation, while one can scroll through the seven-inch bottom sceen for climate control, audio, or customizable driving preferences.
The Infiniti Q50 has a range of drive modes that include Standard, Sport, Sport-plus, Personal, Eco and Snow. Furthermore, the dive can adjust his/her steering preferences with a choice of Default, Dynamic and Dynamic-plus.
The Infiniti Q50 will arrive in dealerships in late March, beginning with its base 2.0-litre engine and its top-rated Red Sport 400. The 300-hp turbocharged V-6 is expected to arrive in the summer. Pricing will be released at some point in March.
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