Infiniti offers the Q50 with the choice of a modern steer-by-wire system or a more conventional electrically assisted rack and pinion.

The advanced steer-by-wire system is available on the hybrid and 2.1-litre diesel in Sport trim, and optional on other models. It grants the driver several settings for response and weight. The truth is, though, that you don't want those options.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
A reduction in weight would help the Q50's handling capabilities no end

With the steer-by-wire system the Infiniti is at its most fluent and reactive in its basic modes; any faster or heavier and its steering becomes overly weighty and demanding.

On-centre feel is adequate but feedback is minimal in corners, making it hard to judge what's really going on. The only consolation is that the Q50 is immune from steering deviations caused by bumps or camber changes, but the tradeoffs aren't acceptable.

Ditch the advanced steering system and the Q50 approaches competitiveness with its peers. Again, it does not challenge for the class lead, but it displays decent low-speed compliance, coupled with a control of its body movements that is quite acceptable in the class.

With the conventional steering system it is easy enough to point, with steering that’s accurate if lifeless and prone to weighting up awkwardly in extreme manoeuvres.

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However, those who want a little more dynamism will still end up looking elsewhere. Apart from on our wet handling circuit, where we discovered that ‘off’ on the stability control system means fully off and that the Q50 displays an admirable and enjoyable handling balance, there’s little truly engaging about the way that the Q50 goes down the road.

Those are characteristics that the 3 Series and C Class display and we rather regret their absence here. Still, they’re similarly missing from A4s and it doesn’t seem to have done Audi any harm. In contrast, the Q50 is at least arrow straight and locomotive stable at motorway speeds.

The Q50’s kerb weight is substantial, so it is no surprise that agility fails to feature highly. For this car, stability is a watchword and dynamism is a distant second. That’s a pity, because beneath it all there is a fine chassis balance trying to get out. Roll and pitch movements are well contained and grip is good, even in the damp.

The standard Infiniti steers with meaty weight when pressing on, and very rapid direction changes can catch the electrical assistance out, making the steering heavier still.

There’s no two-stage stability control on the Q50 – no halfway mode that will allow you a little slip and then rescue you if the car gets too out of shape. Which is worth remembering if you disengage it in an effort to spin the wheels and gain some purchase on ice, say.

And once beyond the limit, there’s precious little understeer. What there is can be easily quelled by trail-braking, and thereafter there’s lift-off (or powered in low-grip conditions) oversteer that’s easy to control.

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