A few years back, Nissan decided to rename every model of their Infiniti luxury brand. The G37 sedan was their most popular model, so we didn't entirely understand the need for a change. Over the course of two years, every model transformed into a Q followed by a numeric series. The Q50 launched in 2013 as the successor to the top-level G37 and it gained a host of improvements. Initially, the powertrain remained unchanged, sharing the venerable 3.7 liter V6 with the Maxima and 370Z. The VQ series engines are among the most powerful and popular V6 engines in recent history, and their influence can be found in everything from the Skyline GT-R to a V8 in the Titan pickup truck. But for 2016 the overseers are following the disheartening trend of downsizing in the name of fuel economy. Many countries are invoking taxes based on engine size, so the revised Q50 has a 3.0 liter V6 with twin turbos. In top-level trim, it makes 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.
The 3.0 liter was one of five new engines that were released in 2016. Other improvements released last year were a revised steering system and "Dynamic Digital Suspension" that reacts quickly to changing conditions. We have an opportunity to drive many vehicles with such claims, so we were glad to spend a week with the Q50 to see how it compares to the competition.
If you think it's just a Maxima with nicer leather you should probably stop reading now. Infiniti might share a common architecture with its parent company, but that's where the similarities end. While Nissan focuses on performance at a competitive price, Infiniti's goal is to refine the art of driving and give you a needed respite after a long day.
In the past, they used the best technologies available to disconnect the driver from the outside world, but now the Q50 has the ability to bring fun back into the equation. Choosing not to stray from their core customers, the suspension and steering systems are configurable with sport and touring modes. Available in rear-wheel drive of AWD configurations, it offers style and efficiency that are not usually found outside of Germany.
On a lap of St. Petersburg we used our secret proving grounds in an attempt to force understeer. In the past, Japanese luxury brands have dialed in understeer at the limit to let the driver know such antics should be avoided. But with the new digital suspension, the Q50 realizes it has arrived to a party and it quickly rises to the occasion. That being said, it took real effort to push the Q50 to its limits, and its an achievement that won't happen on public roads.
Outside the styling is what you would expect, with graceful curves and aggressive 19" wheels. The most polarizing feature is the forward slant of the C-pillar as it approaches the belt line. I think it is graceful and unique, but others saw it as pompous and precocious from such a conservative brand. Inside the materials are nice and the infotainment is easy to navigate. Leather, brushed metals and wood are laid out in a symmetrical fashion in order to please the eye. The touch screens are almost vertical which can be glare inducing, but steering wheel controls are intuitive to keep your hands on the road.
The Q50 is the luxury sports sedan that makes for a great daily driver. Because they didn't attempt to reinvent the wheel, they pass the savings along to you. Purchasing is a great option because Ininiti is not hit by depreciation as much as other brands can be. Pricing for the Red Sport Edition in rear wheel drive starts at $48,700, which is a nice deal for a great car. Nissan is a cautious overseer, letting the other brands rush into new technologies. The new Q50 might seem late to the game in a few areas, but comfort lies in the fact that it will be a great car for years to come. Stay with us for more reviews here on Autofluence.