2018 Infiniti Q50 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

The 2018 Infiniti Q50 offers three powertrains. The twin-turbo V6 is the best of the bunch, as it's noticeably more energetic than the base engine. The hybrid powertrain gets the best gas mileage in this lineup, but fuel economy is unimpressive with any engine choice. The Q50 receives some updates for 2018 that bring handling and steering improvements. This car is fairly athletic on winding roads, and it rides comfortably.

  • The Red Sport is not a BMW M or Mercedes-AMG contender, the automaker explains. Infiniti sees the Q50 Red Sport 400 rivaling models such as the Audi S4, Lexus IS 350 F Sport, and BMW 340i Track edition. This is important to know when driving this car because it is not as sharp or aggressive as an M or full AMG sedan. That's not a negative, just don't get your expectations mixed up." -- Motor Trend
  • "The Q50 is a highly competent luxury sedan that's enjoyable to drive. It drives like a smaller car, and that's a compliment." -- Edmunds (2017)
  • "With the fiery Red Sport 400, getting to speed is effortless and can easily tempt you to go faster, yet as is the case with all the Q50s, it is refined and composed; its suspension is responsive, but on a leisurely drive the ride is quite pleasant." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Q50’s base engine is a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 208 horsepower. It has enough power for daily driving but lacks the energy of the larger available engine.

A twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 is available. It puts out 300 horsepower in 3.0t models and 400 horsepower in Red Sport 400 models. The V6 moves with authority when you stomp the gas pedal, particularly in Red Sport 400 models. Highway merging and passing pose no trouble with the larger engine.

A seven-speed automatic transmission comes standard, and it draws mixed reviews. Some say it delivers smooth shifts, while others argue that it keeps the engines from reaching their full potential.

The Q50 lags behind the pack in terms of fuel economy. With the base engine, it earns an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway – some of the worst ratings in the class. Things only get worse with the V6 engine, which gets 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway (20/26 mpg in Red Sport 400 models).

A hybrid powertrain is also available, and it’s the only one to get respectable fuel economy. The Q50 Hybrid gets 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Even those ratings are only marginally better than the most fuel-efficient nonhybrid cars in the class. The Q50 Hybrid isn’t short on power though. It features a V6 engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 360 horsepower.

  • Acceleration is more than brisk, with the Red Sport's 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque providing enough thrust to firmly pin you to the back of your seat. The Q50's engine note is somewhat muted, but the noise that is there is aural satisfying. That excellent engine is unfortunately let down by the Q50's seven-speed automatic transmission. When left in auto mode, it feels lazier than the rest of the drivetrain. When we switched to manual mode to use the car's steering wheel-mounted shifters, we often noticed the seven-speed clunking into gear." -- Left Lane News
  • "The Q50's new twin-turbo V6 engine is the basis for the 3.0t and Red Sport 400. Whether you prefer the 300- or the 400-horsepower version, power comes on swiftly and is managed well by the slick-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)
  • "The extra 100 horses, channeled through a 7-speed automatic transmission, make the Red Sport an undeniably swift sedan. A quick and determined downshift spurs lusty expressway passing capability, and 350 lb-ft of torque that enters its peak at less than 2000 rpm enables prompt push from standing starts. Most of this is done fairly quietly but exhaust noise gets somewhat rumbly as acceleration gets to elevated levels." -- Consumer Guide (2017)

Handling and Braking

Some luxury small cars have front-wheel drive, but this Infiniti, like most of its closest rivals, has standard rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available. Already a sporty car, the Q50 receives an updated suspension and improved steering for the 2018 model year.

The Q50 has agile handling and sharp steering, and there isn’t too much body roll when cornering. The available adjustable steering system (known as Direct Adaptive Steering) lets you alter the amount of effort required to turn the wheel. It drew the ire of test drivers in years past, but Infiniti may have finally worked out the kinks. This still isn’t the most athletic car in the class, but it does provide driving enjoyment. It also rides smoothly over most road surfaces.

  • … [the steering is] much improved. Feel and feedback are okay, and it does point the car where you want it to, though it still feels a bit funny and artificial on-center. … The thing is, it's at least as good as the erstwhile benchmark, the BMW 3 Series, which has lost its way and grew a layer of isolation with the latest model. Best steering in the category now belongs to the Cadillac ATS, Alfa Romeo Giulia …, and maybe the Jaguar XE." -- Automobile Magazine
  • All of this equates to very balanced and stable driving dynamics when in Sport and Sport+ modes. The Q50's turn-in is secure and precise with minimal body roll. … On long sweeping turns, you start feeling the weight of the luxurious sedan, but the very vocal Bridgestone tires equipped on our tester did a good job of constantly reminding me that I was on the edge of grip. I just wish they had a bit more grip. … Braking feel and power is superb, and the ABS was never intrusive." -- Motor Trend
  • "Most of the Q50's mechanicals have carried over unchanged, but the sedan sports a few changes that were integrated to improving handling at the limit. The Q50's drive-by-wire steering system has been refined and the car's VDC stability control system has been re-programed to be a little less intrusive. Unless you regularly drive at the limit you're unlikely to notice the changes, but it's nice to know the Q50 will be better behaved if you choose to drive in anger." -- Left Lane News

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