Infiniti's cars are not named well. Take the Q50 sedan, for instance. Neither the letter nor the number seem to stand for anything identifiable about the car. Besides, it just sounds bland and boring. The good news is the car's not.
What It Is
The Q50 is Infiniti's almost midsized/mid-priced luxury-sport sedan.
It's slightly less midsized on the outside than the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E Class — both of which are a few inches longer overall. But the Q50 actually has a much roomier first row — by about 3 inches — and about the same room in its second row.
It also offers more engine — for less money — than they do.
Base price is $34,200 for the Pure trim with 2.0-liter engine and rear-wheel drive. Opting for all-wheel drive raises the price to $36,200.
The top trim is the Red Sport, which comes with a 400-horsepower version of the twin-turbo V-6, along with other driveline, brake and suspension upgrades, and a more visually aggressive exterior and interior look. It's also available with either RWD ($51,000) or AWD ($53,000).
Finally, there's the hybrid version, powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 (no turbo this time) paired with the usual electric motor/battery pack. It, too, is available in both rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
All trims receive minor exterior tweaks, most notably revised LED taillights similar to the Q60 coupe's, a more aggressive-looking lower front air dam/air intakes and a newly designed steering wheel with molded spots for your thumbs.
It's priced about the same as compact-sized luxury-sport sedans but as roomy inside as much more expensive midsized luxury-sport sedans.
It has much more powerful optional engines than price-equivalent rivals.
There's abundant tech.
What's Not So Good
The base engine is not as strong as rivals' base engines.
The hybrid's trunk is very tight — just 9.5 cubic feet (versus 13.5 cubic feet for the other Q50s), about the same as a Mazda Miata's.
Under the Hood
The standard engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It has 208 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque at 1,500 rpm.
A seven-speed automatic is standard, but you can pick either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
In all of them, you can go rear-wheel drive or opt for all-wheel-drive.
Next up is a 300 horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6.
If that's not enough, you have one more option to consider. The centerpiece of the Red Sport is a 400 horsepower twin-turbo V-6. Equipped with this engine, the Q knows how to cut the rug. Zero to 60 mph takees 4.4 seconds.
And there's a fourth option — if you're feeling green-ish. The hybrid isn't lacking for power. Its 3.5-liter V-6/electric motor/battery combo has almost has Red Sport power, in fact. Total output is 360 horsepower, and torque output is superior due to the Immediate Effect of the electric motor, which doesn't have to spool up to make torque. It takes about 5.2 seconds to do the zero to 60 run. The RWD version has fuel ratings of 27 mpg city and 32 mpg highway (with AWD, the mpg dip a bit to 26 city and 30 highway).
On the Road
The Q50's immediate rivals can boast of excellent handling, but the acceleration that's available in the Q50 is unmatched for the money — and then some.
The Red Sport is a supercar, not just a luxury-sport car. Even the midlevel Sport will get your motor running.
And the hybrid will do it without the motor running at all.
At the Curb
The Q50 is positioned smartly relative to its rivals — and not only in terms of price but size.
It is slightly smaller on the outside than cars like the fully midsized Mercedes E Class and BMW 5 Series, both of which are much more expensive and don't offer more room on the inside.
The Q50 is 189.6 inches long overall, and has 44.5 inches of legroom up front and 35.1 inches of legroom in the back seat. An E Class is 193.8 inches long overall but only has 41.7 inches of legroom up front and 36.1 inches of back-seat legroom. The 5 Series is 194.6 inches long overall, and has 41.4 inches of legroom and 36.5 inches in the back.
All versions are equipped with a pair of secondary touchscreens for secondary functions, such as the GPS/navigation, audio, climate controls and so on. These are located in the center stack, with the 8-inch screen on top of the 7-inch screen. The main instrument cluster remains a — happily — traditional analog rather than a digitized one.
Red Sport versions get racier bodywork including carbon fiber exterior trim (rear spoiler, outside mirrors) and unique interior enhancements, such as quilted semi-aniline seat covers and red contrast stitching. But all trims look ready to rumble.
The Bottom Line
It's hard to find fault with this car, especially given what you're getting for what they're asking.
Eric's new book, "Don't Get Taken for a Ride!" will be available soon. To find out more about Eric and read his past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.