Infiniti Canada invited me to the beautiful Lake Rousseau this week. Located in the beautiful Muskoka region, the winding, foliage-filled roads of the area are the absolute perfect place to drive the new halo car, the 2014 Infiniti Q50. The event started out with a 200+ km jaunt from the Toronto International Airport to Muskoka. This way, we had the opportunity to experience the car in an everyday urban setting as well as the beautiful countryside where I thoroughly enjoyed putting it through its paces.
The biggest news surrounding Infiniti is the naming of racing champion Sebastian Vettel as the brand’s new Director of Performance. This means he has direct influence on the vehicles designed under his wing. For purists like myself, it means that the Q50 should have that little push of “oomph” that I so dearly miss from the first-generation G35 Coupe.
The Q50 is the first Infiniti to carry the new global nomenclature. I personally preferred the old “G37” moniker, but I’m sure I’ll eventually come to terms with the change. The new car, while bearing the unmistakable profile of a G sedan, is supposed to set a new direction for Infiniti overall. Throughout the presentation and demonstration, one sentence stayed in my mind. Infiniti claims that this is the best sedan they have ever made. I have a huge soft spot for the original G (particularly because of the absolutely glorious exhaust note of the two-door variant), so if this proved true, nobody would be happier than me.
The first impression I gathered from the Q50 is that this car is incredibly refined. My first go was in the rear-wheel-drive Q50S. Powered by the trademark VQ 3.7L V6, the car puts out 328 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. Despite being a bit larger than the others, I see this car as a huge threat to the Audi S4, the BMW 335i, and even the new Lexus IS350. While the other Japanese car also uses a naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engine, the Audi and BMW use boosted 6-cylinders. The entire time I was driving the Q50, I couldn’t get enough of the sound of that raw V6 wailing the entire way through the powerband. Turbochargers and superchargers are great, but Infiniti has made the most out of the simplicity of ‘au naturel’. Unsurprisingly, Infiniti has kept the 7-speed automatic and has thankfully stayed away from CVT transmissions on this car. It’s important to note that even the Q50 Hybrid comes with a conventional 7-speed automatic.
I’ve had the pleasure of extensively driving nearly every variation of Infiniti G produced in the last decade. While each and every one of them (except maybe the short-lived G25) was great in its own way, they all suffered from one major setback. Fuel economy was absolutely atrocious. In this one though, Infiniti promises a combined number of 8.8L/100km combined on the regular car and 6.4L/100km on the Q50 Hybrid. While driving from Toronto to Muskoka spiritedly in the rear-drive Q50S, I managed 10L/100km. Not bad in the slightest considering my tester had less than 100 km on it when I picked it up.
Not only does the Infiniti Q50 come with some incredible numbers under the hood, it comes packed with the latest in technology. The two touch screens on the dash are extremely reminiscent of the new Acura RLX. While the upper screen (in charge of controlling navigation, audio, etc.) is standard-issue Infiniti, the lower screen is much higher-definition and gorgeous to look at. The Bose sound system in this car is all-new and not a carryover from the outgoing G37. With 14-speakers and virtually unlimited connectivity and music options, the system sounds brilliant when tuned properly.
Vettel’s influence is clearly evident in this car. On the trip back from Muskoka, I drove the Q50S Hybrid. For an enthusiast like me to enjoy a hybrid, it had better be pretty darn good. In this case, the more-efficient model is actually significantly more powerful and fun than the regular Q50. The hybrid powerplant puts out 360 combined horsepower and a serious amount of torque. I observed 9L/100km over the course of the day with a very heavy right foot. Beautiful.
Overall, I know there are some enthusiasts in the car world that have a few small issues with the new Q50. I wasn’t initially a fan of the new naming scheme, but I’ve ultimately come to terms with it. Manual transmission junkies like myself are going to be disappointed – there is no third pedal available on the sedan. I’m not too worried though; with the racing influence that Infiniti has going for them lately, it’s pretty much a given that the upcoming Q60 Coupé will have the availability of a stick. More driving impressions will follow in the coming weeks, we do have a Q50 booked for a proper road test. I do think the 2014 Infiniti Q50 definitely lives up to the expectations that I had; it’s undoubtedly the best sedan they have ever made. With the Q50’s starting price of under $40,000, the BMW 335i has some serious competition.
2014 Infiniti Q50 Gallery