Followers of luxury Japanese carmaker Infiniti will recognize a new name for their favorite cars. The company announced a rebranding of their model names in 2012, and the upcoming 2014 Q50 is the first car to bear the company's new nomenclature. Replacing the well-received G37 sport sedan, the Q50 is packed with high-tech features, refined styling and—last, but not least—a powerful yet nimble drivetrain. We went to the country roads of New England to put the Q50 to the test.
Offered in both all wheel drive (AWD) and rear wheel drive (RWD), each available in both hybrid and conventional engines, the Q50's available add-ons are where the car truly shines. Infiniti likes to say that this is the best sport sedan they've made to date, and the technical add-ons are truly remarkable. Sitting in the Q50, it's clear the company is going all in when it comes to integrated technology. The center console is dominated by two iPad-sized touch-screens—where everything in the car can be controlled—however, its ability to connect with the outside world is where the system really excels.
Placing an emphasis on connectivity, Infiniti has plans for car-specific apps from some of the most popular social, entertainment and navigation apps on the market. The car's advanced navigation system goes beyond directions, offering a personal guide system for everything from restaurants to finding the best gas prices. Live-streaming traffic data keeps you from getting stuck, but didn't stop us from entering the Boston rush-hour fray. Meanwhile, Infiniti's car-specific app keeps you connected to your car when when you're across town—offering tracking services as well as geofencing capabilities.
Ripping through Maine's country roads with the sunroof open requires a soundtrack to match. Bluetooth and USB capabilities allow for easy connection, while the Bose add-on stereo is among the best we've heard on four wheels. There are 14 high-quality speakers placed strategically throughout the car. Most impressively, the system processes audio through a particular signal algorithm which channels the different tracks in the audio to different speakers at different levels. This creates an exceptional audio experience, especially with live recording. While the quality of sound is present, there's no shortage of quantity. An excessive raising of the volume to the recent Daft Punk release proved the Bose system has both brain and brawn. When it's time to roll up the windows, an optional microphone feature measures sound levels outside the car and adjusts the volume of the music accordingly.
While staying connected is key, safety is still a major concern. The driving assistance features—available in the premium technology package—aim to take safety to new levels. While collision prevention via radar has been on the market for a few years, the Q50 takes it a step further by scanning further ahead to allow for greater breaking time. Meanwhile the Active Lane Control technology uses cameras to keep you from drifting on the highway. A light correction is felt in the wheel when the car begins to cross lane lines. While this feature is both helpful and innovative, it can be a bit of a hinderance on busy highways.
We tested both the RWD 3.7 V6 as well as the AWD Hybrid. While the handling and acceleration was powerful yet maneuverable in both models, the AWD Hybrid was more responsive and offered a more exciting drive experience than the V6. The difference in gas mileage between the models may not be enough to make up for the difference in price for some buyers. The fully loaded AWD hybrid clocks in at 27 miles per gallon (MPG) for city and 31 MPG for highway, with a $48,150 price. Meanwhile the fully loaded RWD V6 boasts 20 MPG in the city and 29 MPG on the highway at $39,550. Regardless of the model chosen, the Q50's balance of luxury styling with sport-handling and a range of high-tech reveals a strong step in Infiniti's rebranding of their fleet.
Images by Hans Aschim