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2019 Infiniti Q50 Performance Review


Performance: 7.6

The Infiniti Q50's engine lineup includes a turbocharged four-cylinder base engine and two available V6 engines. The Q50 has engaging handling and a compliant ride, even over rough patches in the road. However, its fuel economy is poor regardless of which engine you choose, and some rivals are more engaging to drive.

  • So the big question is, is it good? Well, it's 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. Like most cars in this category, switching the vehicle dynamic control to "Sport" or "Sport+" adds a bit more weight, while altering the shift points. 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 (at least, the Quadrofoglio (sic), which is the only variant I've driven so far), and maybe the Jaguar XE." -- Automobile Magazine (2018)
  • As for how that steering response translates to handling gets more complicated. Upon first moving the steering wheel off-center it feels airy and disconnected from what is happening on the ground. Dial-in some more lock and the wheel quickly firms up how a standard steering rack would feel. The road isn't transmitted to your hands as with a hydraulic (or even electric) rack, but the electronics do their best to simulate it. A Q60 Red Sport I drove not too long ago felt much more videogame-like than the steering in the Q50 does, so some worthwhile tuning has been done." -- Autoweek (2018)
  • "Fueled by premium gasoline and boosted by twin turbochargers, the V6 has plenty of giddy-up and it doesn't quit, even when running uphill. With Sport mode activated, steering becomes stiffer, the tachometer needle jumps as the crankshaft begins spinning faster and dampers tighten up for better road grip. Sport+ mode takes all these up just one more notch." -- New York Daily News (2018)

Acceleration and Power

A 208-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers the base Q50. This turbo-four has plenty of power for everyday driving, but reviewers favor the more potent available twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engines. There's a 300-horsepower V6 in midlevel models and a 400-horsepower V6 in the highest Red Sport 400 trim. The seven-speed automatic transmission feels refined, but it lags when using the available paddle shifters. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is available.

Models with the base four-cylinder engine deliver 23 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, which are below-average estimates in the class. The 300-horsepower V6 and the 400-horsepower V6 deliver 20/29 mpg city/highway and 20/26 mpg city/highway, respectively.

  • No major complaints about the unchanged 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 churning away under the hood, giving my right foot control of 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Merging onto the expressway to head south is effortless with the seven-speed automatic transmission smoothly swapping cogs. Manually selecting gears using the steering wheel paddles is an option, but laggy response to shift commands left me letting the computer do all the work for most of the day." -- CNET (2018)
  • 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. Some extra tuning would certainly elevate the Q50's driving experience." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • The seven-speed automatic did a great job of shifting in Sport and Sport+ modes and never felt like it was hunting for the right gear. Manual mode allows for quick shifts with the paddle shifters, but I wish they were a tad faster. It was a great transmission overall, but it's hard to beat the ZF eight-speed automatic found in some rivals." -- Motor Trend (2018)

Handling and Braking

Although the Q50 delivers a satisfying ride, some of its competitors feel more connected to the road. The Q50 has agile handling and responsive steering while still remaining comfortable. A Direct Adaptive Steering system is available, which was improved for the current generation due to complaints over previous versions. The system hasn't won over every reviewer, but many say that it feels a lot more refined and connected than before.

  • Steering in the Q50 varies greatly depending on drive modes, which are selectable via a console-mounted toggle switch. Since the steering wheel isn't physically attached to the front wheels, the tiller is devoid of any road feel, but the unit does provide some nice weighting. Moreover, you can set up the car just how you like in a personal mode, so you should be able to find your perfect blend of sport and comfort. We also like how the steer-by-wire system isolates the driver from jolts from more severe road imperfection." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • "Steering is responsive, which lets you take corners as tight as you like while remaining confidently in control." -- Boston Globe (2018)
  • "The Q50 Red Sport may not be pitted directly against other high-performance nameplates, but it certainly goes like a performance car." -- Left Lane News (2018)
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2019 Infiniti Q50

MSRP: $35,650 - $53,350

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