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2016 Infiniti Q50: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

Although the 2016 Infiniti Q50 is visually identical to last year's car, the changes beneath its seductive skin are substantial. While the Q50 Hybrid's engine carries over unchanged, the gasoline-powered version gets a trio of turbocharged choices, ranging from a Mercedes-derived 4-cylinder to a scorching 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6. Improvements to the car's optional Direct Adaptive Steering address previous complaints about vague steering response, with three preset steering modes and six drive modes, including a personal setting.

Given the extent of these changes, the Q50 now poses a formidable threat to cars ranging from the most inexpensive Mercedes-Benz C-Class to such well-established names as the Cadillac ATS-V, the BMW M3 and the Audi S4. As always, the Q50 lineup for 2016 is as extensive as it is luxurious, giving buyers a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive and a number of available driver-assist systems designed to help keep the Q50 on the road and out of trouble.

What's New for 2016?

Styling remains unchanged, but a trio of new gasoline engines includes a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and two variations of a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Also new this year is the 400-hp Red Sport 400 trim. The Q50's available adaptable suspension and steering systems have been completely overhauled.

What We Like

Sleek styling; choice of three powerful gasoline engines; much-improved Direct Adaptive Steering; gutsy hybrid model; easier navigation thanks to hard buttons and dual touchscreens

What We Don't

Sophisticated driver-assist systems aren't for everyone and can feel intrusive; narrow front seats; differing resolutions make dual touchscreens feel mismatched; no manual transmission; muted paint and interior color choices

How Much?

$34,855-$60,000

Fuel Economy

The Q50 2.0t is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine good for 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy for the rear-wheel-drive (RWD) model at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The all-wheel-drive (AWD) version nets 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

The Q50 3.0t and Q50 3.0t Sport employ a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that generates 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the Q50 Red Sport 400 uses a modified version of the same engine that's good for 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. EPA estimates for the RWD 3.0t are 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy, with the AWD model earning 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy. The RWD Sport earns 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy, while the AWD version attains a slightly lower 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy. The Q50 Red Sport 400 with RWD sees 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy, and its AWD equivalent gets 19 mpg city/26 mpg hwy.

The Q50 Hybrid employs a 3.5-liter V6 teamed with an electric motor to create 360 hp. EPA estimates for the RWD version are 28 mpg city/34 mpg hwy, while the AWD Hybrid nets 27 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Infiniti Q50 comes in one body style applied to five trims: 2.0t, 3.0t, 3.0t Sport, Red Sport 400 and Hybrid. All Q50s are powered by their rear wheels but can be ordered with AWD.

The Q50 2.0t ($34,855, RWD; $36,855, AWD) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, leatherette simulated leather seating, LED headlights, LED fog lights, heated outside mirrors, 8-way power driver and passenger seats with driver's-side manual lumbar support, Infiniti's dual-touchscreen interface with apps, a rearview monitor, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, cruise control, Intelligent Key keyless entry and starting, and a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with HD Radio and dual USB ports.

The Q50 2.0t Premium ($38,555, RWD; $40,555, AWD) adds a 14-speaker Bose sound system, a power moonroof, a heated steering wheel and a HomeLink universal garage-door opener.

The Q50 3.0t Premium ($40,805, RWD; $42,805, AWD) has the same equipment as the 2.0t Premium.

The Q50 Hybrid Premium ($47,955, RWD; $49,955, AWD) includes the 2.0t Premium features and adds Direct Adaptive Steering, as well as the Premium Plus and Driver Assistance packages.

The Q50 3.0t Sport ($44,805, RWD; $46,805, AWD) also comes with the Premium features and adds 19-in alloy wheels, Dynamic Digital Suspension, bigger brakes, a unique front fascia, leather seating surfaces, chrome exhaust finishers and sport seats with extendable thigh support and driver's-side adjustable side bolsters.

The Q50 Red Sport 400 ($48,855, RWD; $50,855, AWD) includes the Sport's equipment and more aggressive summer tires.

Most options are bundled into packages. The Premium Plus package adds a power tilt-telescopic steering column, auto-dimming outside mirrors, voice-activated navigation with 3-D graphics, power driver's-seat lumbar support, a heated steering wheel, heated front seats, Infiniti InTouch services and memory for the driver's seat, the mirror and the steering column.

The Driver Assistance package adds forward emergency braking, predictive forward-collision warning (it looks around the vehicle immediately in front of you to warn of potential dangers farther up the road), rain-sensing wipers, an Around View Monitor, a blind spot monitoring system and rear cross-traffic alert.

The Technology package adds adaptive front headlights, auto high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control, a Plasmacluster climate-filtration system, front-seat pre-crash seat belts, a blind spot monitoring system, lane-departure warning and prevention, and active lane control.

A la carte options include a power moonroof, Direct Adaptive Steering, leather seating and maple wood trim.

Safety

The Infiniti Q50 was crash-tested by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and earned a 5-star overall rating, with four stars in the front crash test and five stars for the side-impact and rollover tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Q50 its best rating of Good in all but the small-overlap front crash test, which earned a rating of Acceptable.

Also bolstering the Q50's safety credentials are an optional predictive system that gauges the speed of the vehicle two cars ahead and available lane-departure warning with active lane control.

Behind the Wheel

While none of the Q50 models are slouches, the slowest of the bunch is the 2.0t. In the 3.0t, abundant power flows through the 7-speed transmission, producing brisk acceleration and smooth shifts, while the Hybrid model delivers even more grunt thanks to a total output of 360 hp. On 3.0t models, Direct Adaptive Steering interprets steering-wheel input through an electronic control unit and turns the front wheels via two electric motors. Standard in the Hybrid and available on the 3.0t and Red Sport 400 models, the second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering system delivers improved road feedback and a more natural steering feel.

The different drive modes access one of three steering modes: Standard, Sport and Sport+. Sport and Sport+ add to steering effort for enhanced control, and Sport+ also quickens steering response. Should the system fail, an electric clutch engages a mechanical linkage, which lacks power assist but enables the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.

The Q50 drives with a secure, surefooted and swift grasp of the road, but real driving enthusiasts will want to skip the electronic steering and stick with the standard hydraulic system. There are, however, other reasons to opt for Direct Adaptive Steering, including a lane-minding system that helps keep the car centered in its lane (assuming the road stays generally straight). Other techy driving features include distance control, which helps maintain a safety cushion between you and the car ahead of you.

The star of the show is the all-new Q50 Red Sport 400. Packing a 400-hp wallop and making 350 lb-ft of maximum torque from the performance version of the 3.0-liter twin turbo, this Q50 is identifiable by its red S badging. Two key elements set the 400-hp V6 apart from the 300-hp version. For more efficient cooling, the 400-hp V6 has a second water pump. Additionally, it boasts an industry-first turbo speed sensor, giving the turbo system a 30 percent power boost by allowing the blades to spin faster. Both V6 iterations require premium fuel.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Audi A4 -- The A4 delivers a premium look and feel, with a stunning interior that many consider best in class. However, the A4 is a front-wheel-drive car, so unless you opt for the AWD version, its handling won't be as precise as the Q50.

2016 BMW 3 Series -- The BMW 320i sedan opens up the Bavarian brand to more buyers, but like the base Q50, its turbocharged 4-cylinder might not appeal to luxury buyers, and there's no AWD hybrid model.

2016 Lexus IS -- The other Japanese offering in this hotly contested category, the Lexus IS delivers solid styling and comfort, but its interior isn't as cohesive or elegant as the Infiniti. Also, the base IS 200t doesn't offer AWD.

Used Infiniti M45 -- A 2011-2014 Infiniti M (Q70 in 2014) offers similar styling, the option of a V8 engine and a more luxurious interior, all while staying within the Infiniti family.

Autotrader's Advice

If you're looking for a blend of comfort and performance, the Q50 3.0t with the Premium Plus package delivers just about everything you'll need. Hardcore enthusiasts will want the Red Sport 400 AWD with the Technology package, while fuel economy fans should go with the Hybrid.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Infiniti Q50: New Car Review - Autotrader