2016 Infiniti Q50 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Infiniti Q50 was new.

Scorecard

Performance: 7.9

Acceleration and Power 

The base Q50 features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 208 horsepower. It gets slightly worse fuel economy than other four-cylinder-powered small sedans, earning an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 31 on the highway.

3.0t models come with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 300 horsepower. If you're looking for engine performance, this is a good place to start. It feels incredibly potent whether you're on the highway or accelerating from a stoplight. Fuel economy is an estimated 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway, which is comparable to V6-powered rivals.

If 300 horsepower isn't enough for you, then check out the Q50 Red Sport 400, which features a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 400-horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. That's a ton of horsepower for a small sedan, and you'll feel it every time you hit the gas pedal. Some test drivers do argue that performance-oriented class rivals are still more fun to drive, however.

The Q50 does offer a hybrid powertrain. The Q50 Hybrid comes with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 360 horsepower. It gets an estimated 28 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway, which is less than the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

No matter which model you end up choosing, the engine will be mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission that delivers smooth, timely shifts.

  • "All that, plus a few new features we'll get to, translates to a significantly more potent-feeling Q50. When you hammer the gas from a stop, the Red Sport 400 immediately exhibits its throttle response." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Q50's new motor is proof that two turbos can fix damn near anything. Make no mistake: this is a very, very good engine. … The top Q50 is a legitimately fast car now; the zero to 60 mph dash is estimated (by my ass) to be in the mid-4 second range, about a second quicker than it was in 3.7-liter form. More than that, it feels like it has 400 HP; turn off the nannies and you can spin the tires hard and get the car nice and sideways whenever the urge should strike you and the cops aren't around. … It injects some badly-needed fun into the model." -- Jalopnik
  • "We had the opportunity to put the updated Q50 through its paces on the gently winding roads of the Texas Hill Country. Simply put, 400 horsepower in a car tipping the scales at about 3,850 lbs. is ferociously quick. Stomp on the skinny pedal and it's easy to get the rear end loose even as the standard seven-speed automatic gearbox shifts up into second gear. If anything, we think a set of grippier tires might be in order." -- Left Lane News

Handling and Braking

Rear-wheel drive is standard in the Q50, and all-wheel drive is available. The Q50 is a good cruising vehicle and handles with agility, but that performance-oriented suspension tuning comes at the expense of a ride that is somewhat firm, though still largely composed over rough roads.

Several test drivers are not fans of the Q50's steering, particularly Infiniti's available Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS), which lets you choose from three different driving modes: Heavy, Standard, and Light. The three modes have differing amounts of steering response, but some testers say that the whole system feels numb regardless of setting, and even with the standard steering system, they found that sometimes there is a slight lag between turning the steering wheel and the car changing direction.

  • "During our Four Seasons test of a 2014 Infiniti Q50, we found that the car's electronic steer-by-wire system, Direct Adaptive Steering, was vague and felt unrealistic. Though the Q50 Red Sport has updated DAS software, it's still not ready for enthusiast drivers. The new variable mechanism feels well-weighted and direct, but it still lacks precision. While DAS is an option, with the standard electric rack, a high-frequency vibration comes through the wheel and makes your hands tingle, and not with anticipation. On-center steering remains vague, and you constantly adjust the steering wheel. There's additionally sometimes a momentary pause between when you turn the wheel and the car initiating the turn, which makes for a rather disconcerting experience." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The Q50 … is firm, but still compliant. In terms of handling and steering, the Q50 receives high marks for its quick responses, composed ride and predictable nature." -- Edmunds
  • "The Q50 holds the road nicely, offering a ride that is a good balance between comfort and responsiveness. If you don't drive it like you stole it, leisurely cruising in the Q50 is very pleasant. For those who enjoy track time, we discovered at the autocross that when going around turns at a higher rate of speed in Sport+ mode, the tail will break loose, but it's easy to control and offers plenty of thrills." -- Kelley Blue Book

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