What is it?
The Infiniti Q50S Hybrid is the car with which Nissan’s luxury arm hopes to finally prop open the door to Europe’s executive car market.
Infiniti has been knocking on that door since 2008. There’s been no answer to speak of yet.
Now, enter the new Infiniti Q50: a saloon the size of a BMW 3-series that replaces the petrol-only G37, but brings fleet-friendly four-cylinder diesel power to Infiniti’s elbow for the first time.
There’s more to this car than heater plugs, mind. The Japanese brand is betting on state-of-the-art technology to motivate Q50 buyers – specifically, younger buyers who appreciate its smartphone-savvy in-car entertainment system.
A fully loaded Q50 comes with a dual touchscreen multimedia system, LED headlights, a 14-speaker Bose stereo, surround-view cameras and enough active safety and convenience systems to give the average Mercedes S-class some competition.
Infiniti’s Daimler-powered 2.2d turbodiesel will be the version to deliver some much-needed European sales volume for the brand, and that car will be the subject of a full Autocar road test in due course.
In advance, Infiniti supplied us with the range-topping petrol-electric alternative as a whistle-whetter on UK roads.
What's it like?
A breath of fresh air for the executive saloon segment on styling. The Q50 is very classy, but also shapely and quite pretty – in a class where sacrificing business-smart assertiveness for an alluring curve looks like an incalculable risk.
Park one next to a Mazda 6 and suddenly the Infiniti doesn’t look quite as distinctive as it does side-by-side with an Audi A4. Luckily for Infiniti, the latter comparison is the more relevant.
Available in equipment-rich specification only, the Q50S Hybrid rides on a unique sports suspension setup and draws power from a 302bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine working in combination with a 67bhp electric motor.
The powertrain’s evidently been developed since it appeared in the larger M35h, and now offers a generally convincing blend of pace, drivability, economy and performance.
Quiet and smooth on step-off and when the combustion engine starts, the Q50 moves along in urban congestion consummately. The electrified part of the powertrain allows the V6 to shut down for frequent and fairly lengthy periods, and you can coax better than 40mpg out of the trip computer without trouble.
Head out of town and that economy will sink to average 32mpg – low enough to make the car’s true colours as a niche-market indulgence more plain. But you’ll also find there’s a generous slice of dynamism here.
The Q50S feels fast, obedient when you shift gears in the transmission’s manual mode, and handles well - with plenty of grip and aplomb. The chassis is skillfully balanced for cornering - and carefully tuned for tight body control and purposeful damping, partnered with enough compliance to make the compromise entirely liveable.