Drive: 2020 Infiniti Q50 offers taut handling and smooth ride
We’ve been driving a lot of sport-utility vehicles, crossovers and European-style sport sedans, so the prospect of slipping into an Infiniti Q50 was appealing. A midsize four-door sedan, the Q50 is known for a smooth, quiet ride. Best of all, our test car combined the usual Japanese near-luxury qualities with staggering power numbers — including 400 horsepower from its twin-turbo V-6 engine.
The Q50 did not disappoint. We noticed immediately that it rolled softly over a pair of harsh dips in our driveway, which produce a jarring sensation in most vehicles. And there was no disguising the menacing growl produced by the Red Sport engine. Although the driver could choose “Comfort” or “Economy” settings, the pleasing exhaust note never diminished. And the acceleration was invigorating.
The Q50 arrived in 2014, replacing one of our favorite near-luxury sedans of the period, the G37. Six years since its introduction, the “Q” brand is a little long in the tooth, but Infiniti has kept it fairly up to date. It competes with the Lexus IS, Acura TLX, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Lincoln MDX, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Cadillac CT4, Jaguar XE and the Genesis G70. Who’d have thought that in a time when the SUV is king, there would be that many midsize sedans in the luxury and near-luxury segment?
Indeed, the Q50 has experienced a U.S. sales downturn since peaking at 44,007 in 2016. Last year, sales declined to 25,987.
The base Q50 starts at $36,400, compared with $60,475, with options, for our all-wheel-drive Red Sport test car. The base model comes with a 300-horsepower V-6 engine, 7-speed shiftable transmission, rear-wheel drive, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and dual-zone climate control. Among the standard features on the Red Sport 400 included quilted leather-appointed seats, heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated 8-way power front sport seats with manual thigh extension, navigation system, Wi-Fi hotspot, Infiniti InTouch infotainment system, satellite radio, remote start and power sunroof.
We appreciated the extensive redundancy of the infotainment controls — older drivers accustomed to conventional buttons could find their way around the double-display arrangement. For more tech-savvy drivers, the touch-screen and steering-wheel-mounted controls, along with a dial on the center console, got the job done. Given our high expectations for this luxury model, we were a bit crestfallen to note the cruise-control system was conventional, not adaptive, and the infotainment system insisted on interrupting the music playing on the Bose Performance Series audio system with repetitive warnings about a tropical storm we already knew about.
The Q50’s ride was as smooth as that of any midsize sedan we’ve driven, including the European models (which tend to ride more firmly than their Japanese competitors do). The car’s handling was taut and inspired confidence despite the relatively soft ride. Highway fuel economy was a little better than the car’s rating of 26, using premium unleaded gasoline.
2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD
Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6, 400 horsepower, 350 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 7-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 3,998 lb.
Suspension: double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 19-in. aluminum alloy
Tires: P245/40R19 all-season performance run-flat
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 13.5 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 20 gal.
Fuel economy: 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline
Steven Macoy (email@example.com) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.