The Infiniti Q50 is stacked with standard equipment, has distinctive styling and runs silently in town, but its German alternatives are all much better buys in just about every sense.
If you’re on the hunt for a premium hybrid saloon, then you may have overlooked the Infiniti Q50. You see, the Japanese brand is relatively small in the UK, but the Q50 is a genuine alternative to cars such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.
On the outside, the Infiniti Q50’s swooping lines and distinct front end mean it stands out. But the Infiniti Q50 has quite a job on its hands if it hopes to beat the best in its class in terms of interior quality. And…, it’s a long way off the best.
Next to its alternatives, the Q50’s interior is short on visual appeal with asymmetric shapes and old-fashioned-looking trim pieces that are garnished with far too many buttons that appear to have been wedged into either side of the stacked – 7 and 8-inch – control screens.
The same is true of the infotainment system, which does without a BMW iDrive style scroll knob – instead many of the car’s systems can be operated either via buttons on the 7-inch touchscreen, controls mounted to the steering wheel, or through voice commands. Even the graphics on the various screens are poorly laid out and aren’t as crisp as you’ll find in the latest rivals.
The Q50 feels a little cramped inside for a car of this class. There’s plenty of room in the front – the same is true for all rivals, though – but the rear seats suffer from a shortage of legroom and anyone sitting in the middle will be treated to a perched position and foot room that has been eaten into by the car’s transmission tunnel.
Hybrids are popular, true, but sticking a 3.5-litre V6 petrol alongside electric motors sort of defeats the object. The Q50’s fuel economy is really quite poor.
Boot space is better – the 500-litre capacity means the Q50 holds an slight advantage on its three main rivals – the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. A floor that isn’t flat and a small opening means its still not the most practical to load, but then all saloons suffer in similar ways.
Infiniti offers just a single engine option: a hybrid, which consists of a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and electric motors powered by batteries, in turn charged by the petrol engine. A seven-speed automatic gearbox is standard, but you get the choice of two or four-wheel drive.
With 364hp on tap, performance isn’t an issue. You can glide around in silence on electricity in town, but should the need arise, 0-62mph is dispatched in just 5.1 seconds. The trouble is, hybrids are usually bought for their fuel economy – the two-wheel drive model manages just 31mpg and the AWD model only 26mpg.
It’s fair to say the Q50 is happier cruising along the motorway than it is attacking corners, too, but it does offer a good amount of stability. Grip levels are decent and body roll is, at least, well controlled. It’s also fairly comfortable over bumps. However, its relatively uncommon fly-by-wire steering system offers very little in the way of communication and therefore fun to the driver.
The Infiniti Q50 isn’t as good to drive as its German alternatives then, nor does it feel as high quality inside, while its fuel economy leaves a lot to be desired. But if a well-equipped, fast hybrid saloon takes your fancy, make sure you check out our Infiniti Q50 deals.