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Silvios Ride Nov 29, 2017

2018 Infiniti Q50

This week Silvio test drives a 2018 Infiniti Q50.

 

This is Infiniti’s sedan sweet spot

Infiniti Q50 3.0t Sport AWD starting price $43,645 — as driven $52,410. Pure, Luxe, Sport & Red Sport 400 Q50 models, RWD or AWD,

from 208 to 400 horsepower starting at $35,000 to $52,000.

Plus: Sleek and sexy, refined, quick, satisfying, AWD

Minus: Safety options should come standard, foot-powered e-brake

 

Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand—as Lexus is to Toyota, Acura to Honda, and now Genesis to Hyundai. Infiniti has a thing for the letter Q that goes back to its first car, the Q45, in 1989. Today there are Q-ships galore, but this one, the midsize Q50 four-door sedan, is Infiniti’s bread and butter.

Counting engine, equipment and trim options plus RWD and AWD, there are—I think—12 different versions of the Q50 that range from 208 to 400 HP and starting prices from $35,000 to $52,000. They all have the same excellent 7-speed automatic transmission. Ours packs a 300HP, 3.0-liter twin-turbo Six and $8,700 worth of options—most of them, even the steering, electronic—so it stickers at $52,410.

At this price, we expect a lot, and this Q50 Sport delivers. I like almost everything about it, starting with the driving position—the hood is nearly out of the driver’s sight, so the car feels compact and maneuverable. And there’s a switch for selecting one of six different driving modes, including a customizable setting. Among the many other options, there’s one thing I absolutely wouldn’t be without: all-wheel drive. This adds $2,000 to the price of a Q50 Sport, but it’s worth every penny, especially in New England.

There’s just one thing that drives me batty in this car, and it’s under my left foot: an old-fashioned, stomp-it-to-the-floor emergency-brake pedal. Good grief, on a car that’s so completely drive-by-wire in every other way, this is like putting a rotary-dial phone in the Jetsons’ house.

Back in the 1990s, Infiniti was trying to sell itself as the Japanese BMW. It didn’t really work. But that was a long time ago. Now, BMW is no longer the automatic gold standard in sport sedans, and Infiniti has learned a lot, including how to beat the Germans on value. From the driver’s seat, I’m hard-pressed to choose between this and a similar Beemer. The Q50 is priced like a 3-Series, but it’s not completely out of line to compare it to a 5-Series, only for about 15 grand less!

Except for its old-fashioned e-brake, the Infiniti Q50 Sport AWD is one of the most “electronically dynamic” cars out there—even the steering is by wire, like a modern jet fighter. This makes virtually everything tunable, and Infiniti has installed mechanical backups wherever necessary, in the unlikely event of any digital gremlins.
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