With exciting new entries like the Cadillac ATS proving that the euro sports sedan segment has never been riper for the picking, you’d think it would be perfect timing for a new Infiniti G-series to build on its already great reputation. Well, that’s not the way Infiniti sees it. With a brand-wide renaming strategy that returns them to their roots, they’ve done away with the G, naming their next generation compact sports sedan, the Q50.
Infiniti’s new naming strategy, simply put, labels all sedans and coupes with the letter Q, akin to the first Infiniti Q45 back in 1990, and all SUVs with the letters QX.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 has nothing else in common with that first Q45. Indeed, this new “Q” replaces the G-Series sport sedan in the line-up… …or so we thought, as Infiniti has since announced that the G37 sedan will remain available through 2015.
And now that we’ve gotten that squared away, we must also say that the new Q50 is much more than just a G with a new name. It’s a virtually all-new luxury sport sedan that not only goes up against segment leaders like the BMW 3-series, but sets the tone for Infiniti cars to come.
And just like a well-tailored suit hides the bad while enhancing the good, the Q’s flowing body panels add a premium look to the athletic proportions of this compact rear-wheel-drive sporty four-door. Clearly, it is more attractive than any prior G sedan, but that might be where the love affair ends. More on that later.
The standard powertrain does carry over from the G, which is just fine by us as the smooth running 3.7-liter V6 with its 328-horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque has always been one of our favorites. A 3.5-liter V6 based hybrid is also available, as is all-wheel-drive with either engine.
A 7-speed automatic transmission with manual mode and downshift rev matching is standard. There’s no true manual gearbox. But, Sport models come with solid magnesium paddle shifters mounted on the steering column, not on the steering wheel itself. A touch serious drivers will like.
Driving modes include Snow, Eco, Standard, and Sport; as well as a personalized setting with engine, transmission, and suspension all responding accordingly. If equipped with Infiniti’s new Direct Adaptive Steering steer-by-wire system it will be adjusted as well.
Our Q50 Sport was not so equipped, and while we would have liked to sample the system for ourselves, based on most reports, we were better off without it.
As we found handling actually quite good through our slalom course. Even on a very cold track, there was plenty of grip and only mild understeer. Throttle on oversteer could also be initiated, but it took a little work to do so.
But on the downside, even with the standard speed-sensitive steering, road feel is hard to come by, you feel disconnected from the car. Apparently that only gets worse with steer-by-wire. The Q is certainly not alone here as most top-tier sport sedans seem to be trading wheel feel for luxury, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
We do like the power that comes on in a rush as you jump to 60 in just 5.3-seconds. The momentum doesn’t let up from there as you clear the quarter-mile in 13.6-seconds at 103 miles-per-hour. Braking is also very good, with stops from 60 averaging a short 117-feet.
When it comes to the interior, there is also little to remind you of the G. Both material quality and luxury appointments are taken to a new level. It’s also a very customizable environment with a programmable i-Key system that recognizes and adjusts seating, climate, audio, navigation, and telematics settings for up to 4-drivers. All seats offer good comfort; and while for the most part the dual touch screen interface works well, it’s yet another reminder of the Q50’s luxury over sport priorities.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are average at 20-City, 29-Highway, and 23-Combined, though we managed a very good 26.3 miles-per-gallon of Premium. The Energy Impact Score is acceptable at 14.3-barrels of oil burned annually with CO2 emission of 6.4-tons.
The change from G to Q has also come with an increase in price as a base Q50 goes for $37,955. Sport models start at $44,455.
The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is better looking, more luxurious, and still has great performance. So, why aren’t we crazy about it? Well, it’s lost that edge that makes a sport sedan so desirable to us. The BMW 3-Series and Cadillac ATS have done a better job in the tradeoff between luxury and performance. A lot more steering feel would help the Q50, and maybe a true manual gearbox option. In short, put a little more of the old G in the new Q and it we think it will be A-OK.
Engine: 3.7-liter V6
Torque: 269 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 13.6 seconds @ 103 mph
EPA: 20 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 14.3 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.4 tons/yr