The Q50 replaces Infiniti's G37 compact sedan. The change reflects Infiniti's new naming convention — all cars will be Q and all SUVs QX, each with a number to reflect their size and place in the lineup rather than their engine size. But the Q50 has some dramatic changes of its own, including new styling and technology, a hybrid version and the regrettable discontinuation of a manual transmission.
The Q50 competes with the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS and Lexus IS.
The Q50 is a complete redesign, but its wheelbase is identical to the outgoing G37's. The Q50 is 2 inches wider while overall length is marginally longer, and the height is down less than a half inch. The look is radically different, mimicking the larger M37 sedan. Infiniti says the car's coefficient of drag is a remarkably low 0.26, which is in league with some of the slipperiest hybrids and other high-efficiency vehicles on the market.
The car has standard LED headlights, running lights and taillights. Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, and 19-inchers come on the Sport trim level, which also has a more aggressive front-end design.
The cabin marks an upgrade over an interior that had grown outdated in the G sedan. Motifs range from more conservative, with maple trim, to contemporary, with aluminum appliques in the Sport trim level.
The highlights are in the center control panel: The Q50 features two touch-screens in the center of the dashboard that can work independently or in tandem. A map can be shown on the top screen while a destination address is input in the lower screen. The lower screen is flanked by columns of real mechanical buttons that control climate — rather than touch-sensitive capacitive panels.
Infiniti says the Q50's trunk is 18.0 cubic feet, which is incredibly large for the class, and 14.1 cubic feet in the hybrid version.
Under the Hood
The Q50 has the G sedan's standard 328-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6, a seven-speed automatic transmission and rear- or all-wheel drive. It does away with the well-regarded six-speed manual initially, and possibly for good. (The upcoming Q60 coupe and convertible will offer the manual.) The Infiniti Drive Mode Selector now adds a Custom setting to the Snow, Eco, Standard and Sport modes. It allows the driver to assign his or her own selection of acceleration, steering and stability system calibrations to a single mode; the other modes are pre determined. Steeringwheel shift paddles are optional.
The new development is the hybrid, which uses a 3.5-liter V-6 and produces 354 hp total. This approach is similar to that in the M sedan; it provides more power than the standard gas-only engine along with higher but not dramatic mileage.
The greatest leap in technology — and of faith — is Infiniti's optional new Direct Adaptive Steering, which is a by-wire steering system claimed to provide "independent control of the Q50's tire angle and steering inputs, transmitting the driver's intentions to the wheels faster than a mechanical system." The steering ratio and power assist can also be customized to suit the driver. A mechanical backup remains onboard.
Buyers can opt for upgraded brakes that employ upgraded discs and four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers.
Standard safety features include the federally mandated antilock brakes and electronic stability system. There are frontal airbags, front-seat-mounted side-impact airbags and side curtains.
The Q50 offers a host of active-safety features that attempt to prevent collisions in the first place. They include forward collision warning with automated emergency braking, blind spot warning, backup collision intervention, lane departure prevention and Active Lane Control. Active Lane Control uses cameras to keep you driving straight when you've wandered too far in your lane, but it also makes smaller adjustments to keep you driving straight in cases of crosswinds and road imperfections.
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