For most readers, Infiniti is a brand which they will never have heard of unless they are regular visitors to the United States of America where Infiniti is most popular and very well established.
This lack of brand knowledge is fine though as Infiniti have only been in Northern Ireland a matter of weeks in the capable hands of Mervyn Stewart Ltd with a temporary ‘pop-up’ showroom in Belfast’s bustling Boucher area with a full size, five star showroom opening soon at the same site.
Sized bigger than a BMW 3 series but slightly smaller than the 5 series, the Infiniti Q50 promises prospective four door luxury saloon owners a car that will fill the needs of business users and families alike whilst a larger Q70 is also available.
Coming mostly in rear wheel drive (bar one hybrid model) the Q50 is available with a 2.2 diesel drive-train producing 167bhp with 295lb/ft of torque with the option of a 6 speed manual gearbox or 7 speed auto with the other affordable choice being the 2.0 petrol turbo engine producing close to 210bhp with 260lb/ft of torque combined with the 7 speed auto ‘box.
Two large petrol units are available with the 7 speed auto ‘box only, called a Q50S, in the form of a 3.0 V6 turbo (as tested) producing 400bhp with 350lb/ft while a Hybrid model receives a 3.5 V6 which produces 360bhp and 260lb/ft when combined to the electric motor and is also available in all wheel drive.
Infiniti’s Q50 is styled with the signature styling and detail that runs across the full Infiniti range and compared to other options on the market, looks fabulous and somewhat unique with plenty of tech on board as well as 19” alloy wheels on the Q50S we drove around the Galgorm area.
Front and rear lighting features LED technology with the front lights being automatic as well as being equipped with auto levelling and LED front fog lamps. Privacy glass helps the aesthetics of the Q50S and around the rear dual exhausts hint at something a little less ordinary.
Keyless entry and welcome home lighting accompany front and rear parking sensors when it comes to convenience along with a rear view camera and parking assist technology. Inside the Q50 is a spacious affair with fantastic leg and head room available throughout.
The seating is finished in perforated leather whilst the heated, electrically adjustable front seats are very comfortable and supportive whilst leather is clad around the door cards and centre console as well as electrically adjustable steering wheel and gear lever.
Practicality is helped with a ‘ski hatch’ in the rear whilst ISOFIX points keep little passengers that bit safer and with active noise cancelling technology the cabin of the Q50S, despite its thundering v6 engine, is a surprisingly quiet place when on the road.
Built into the dash of the Q50S are two touch screens, one 8” the other 7”, one with a high gloss finish, the other a matt finish and the reason for this is simple. The smaller gloss screen is the main hub and control centre for the infotainment and connectivity whilst the larger screen directly above is there to keep maps and navigation visible without having to switch between screens.
The matt finish of this upper screen is absolutely awesome also as it reduces glare to an extent that the maps will almost always be visible no matter what light streams into the cabin and bounces off it.
A third 5” screen is built into the clock cluster behind the steering wheel and if the truth be told, i enjoyed driving the Q50S that much I can’t even remember what is displays but I will hazard a guess as car/driving data and drive mode selection.
Sat nav, Bluetooth, usb input, aux input and DAB radio are all part of the system which despite being a little more advanced than some, is incredibly easy to use and understand with sound quality on the model we drove second to none due to the BOSE speaker system installed.
As mentioned before we drove the wild child of the range, the 400bhp 3.0 V6 turbocharged ‘S’ model which puts power to the rear wheels via the 7 speed automatic ‘dual clutch transmission’ ‘box with paddle shift and having been put into the ‘sport’ drive mode before starting my journey, I was eager to see what it was like.
On exiting the Galgorm resort onto a greasy country road the Q50S fought hard for grip and once in a straight line, under not much more than average acceleration it reminded yet again me via the rear wheels that this is not a car for the inexperienced or feint hearted.
At that point there was a smile on my face and the sheer ground covering ability of the Q50S was apparent and despite being and feeling like a big heavy car, there was a surprising amount of agility available, aided of course with the chassis dynamic control.
This system gives driving modes of ‘snow’, ‘eco’, ‘standard’, ‘sport’ and ‘sport+’ along with ‘personal’ which allows you to fine tune each and every part of the system individually to best suit your driving style and road conditions.
With these types of drive mode systems, the engine map changes dramatically across the various settings, as does the cars safety and traction systems but what the Q50S offers is a very sophisticated ‘Direct Adaptive Steering’ electronic steering system that adjusts also.
I will not try and let on I understand the steering system, nor that I fell in love with it if the truth be told, though I do feel that if I was with the car for a week or more I would soon get used to the different feeling and appreciate its massive benefits over the conventional systems we are used to.
A claimed 40mpg combined is likely achievable over a long commute though when enjoying the Q50S I guess economy isn’t something you would be watching closely whilst annual road tax for the big engine comes in at a sensible £295/yr with the price of the ‘Sport Tech’ model tested coming in around £47k.
Pricing of the Q50 range starts just shy of £30k while a top of the range Hybrid all wheel drive model with plenty of options ticked will come in at over £50k. I can see the Q50 diesel range being very popular with business fleet with its unique styling and luxury feel.
The Q50S however is like a hidden gem, a fast yet practical car that put a serious smile on my face and one that is easiest described in my own words as ‘a class big thing’.
Words and Photos: Graham Curry