The thing about alternative choices is that they’re only worth having if they don’t stray too far into left field; if they’re viable, basically.

A cosmonaut’s wristwatch with laser beams instead of hands and a casing made of recycled ex-Soviet missile parts might seem fascinating, but if it costs twice as much as the average automatic watch, needs six hours of direct sunlight a day to keep it working and isn’t actually very easy to read, the novelty value won’t last long.

It’s a truth that Japanese luxury car maker Infiniti knows only too well. The brand is more than 25 years old, but it has only had an official presence in Europe since 2008.

That Infiniti has yet to make more than the faintest impression here has much to do with its negligible brand awareness with the general public, a very small dealer network and a lack of the right kind of engines for the European market.

The little-known, equipment-rich, pricey, petrol V6-only Infiniti G37 saloon has been the cosmonaut’s wristwatch of the compact executive saloon market these past five years. Its replacement, however, looks much more sensible – and yet still like something fresh and different.

Thanks to Daimler AG, the Infiniti Q50 has a four-cylinder 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine on offer, making it a realistic proposition for company car drivers. This car is competitive, its maker claims, in all the ways the G37 wasn’t.

Infiniti also offers a hybrid version, which couples a 3.5-litre petrol V6 petrol to an electric motor and a seven-speed automatic transmission. This version of the Q50's available with four-wheel drive too, which might tempt those looking for year-round dependability.

Does this mean that the Infiniti Q50 belongs on your driveway, or on your employer’s fleet scheme, even? Let’s find out.

Top 5 Luxury

  • Mercedes-Benz S-class
    'Sporty' Mercedes have a three-pointed badge in the grille. Luxury Benzes get a three-pointed star atop the grille

    Mercedes-Benz S-class

    1
  • Range Rover has a maximum wading depth of 900mm

    Range Rover

    2
  • Tesla Model S
    The Tesla Model S is an upmarket rear-wheel-drive electric saloon

    Tesla Model S

    3
  • The latest XJ is a big departure from its predecessor, stylistically

    Jaguar XJ

    4
  • Audi A8
    The third generation Audi A8 is the best yet - and by some margin

    Audi A8

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Infiniti range

Driven this week

  • 2015 Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion TSI review
    First Drive
    2 June 2015
    The first petrol-powered VW Bluemotion model uses an all-new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine that undermines the case for diesel
  • First Drive
    31 May 2015
    Seat's supermini gets news engines, a smarter cabin, more tech and some minor chassis tweaks. Styling remains unchanged, though
  • First Drive
    29 May 2015
    New compact Vauxhall shows lots of promise, but sluggish performance and intrusive road noise leave it trailing its rivals
  • First Drive
    28 May 2015
    BMW's luxurious coupé has been given a style refresh and more equipment. This is our first chance to drive the popular 640d Coupe on UK roads
  • First Drive
    28 May 2015
    We drive Ssangyong's new small SUV, which isn't up with the best in class but is certainly worth consideration as a budget option