The Infiniti Q50 2.2d is the company's first four-cylinder diesel, which means it goes straight into company car heartland, where sales numbers are high and the competition is unrelentingly strong.
As such, running costs must be competitive for company car drivers as well as private buyers, yet it must also be entertaining to drive and relaxing over long distances. Nothing less will cut it.
In standard six-speed manual guise, the Q50 2.2d emits a reasonable 114g/km. The seven-speed automatic (a £1550 option) will be more popular, but pushes emissions up to 124g/km.
What’s the 2014 Infiniti Q50 2.2d like to drive?
Ride comfort is decent enough. Most surfaces are soaked up without too much bother, and the Q50 feels planted at motorway speeds.
Unfortunately, that's the only dynamic trait that stands up to scrutiny. Barrel into a corner with some vigour, and the steering offers little sense of connection with the road, regardless of which of the two variable weights you’ve chosen. You’ll also notice plenty of body roll.
Grip runs out earlier than it would in an equivalent Audi A3 Saloon or BMW 3 Series, allowing a bit of a slide before the stability control system brings order to the situation. It feels heavier and less agile than the best in this class.
The diesel engine offers strong mid-range performance, but is always very intrusive, regardless of what speed you're doing. It's not only noise, though – it also sends far too much vibration into the cabin.
The seven-speed auto 'box blurs shifts well in normal driving, but can feel hesitant away from the mark and is sometimes indecisive as to which gear to pick.
While the manual gearbox will appeal as the cheaper and cleaner option, it’s a heavy, unpleasantly clunky gearshift and it exposes the shortage of low-down response in the engine more than the auto, so you’ll be stirring the gears a lot at town speeds.
What’s the 2014 Infiniti Q50 2.2d like inside?
The cabin is dominated by the two colour touch-screens. Intitially, this is a bit overwhelming as it's tricky to work out which displays what, not to mention the variety of ways you can control them - via a rotary dial and voice control, as well as by pressing the screens themselves.
It’s also less than ideal that the glossy, high-definition screen shows up fingerprints, reflects daylight very easily and can be slow to respond.
However, while it is never a simple system to navigate, the standard voice control is effective and the online connectivity is impressive – you can even see your Facebook and Twitter feeds.
What's less impressive is that you must spend a whopping £1920 to add sat-nav, which runs on the upper screen. Even more frustrating is that digital radio is available only as part of a £2760 multimedia pack, which also gets you sat-nav and a 14-speaker sound system upgrade. An online radio app is free in the Q50, but relies on your phone's internet connection.
The broad seats are comfortable and have a good range of adjustment, although some tall drivers may want them to drop a little lower. Otherwise the variety of materials around the cabin feel classy, if not up to the perceived quality you’ll find in the Audi A3 Saloon and BMW 3 Series, and the climate control and radio buttons that frame the screens are well damped and easy to fathom at a glance.
Other than the lack of affordable navigation and digital radio, equipment is good on the Infiniti. Even the base car gets 17-inch alloys, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, keyless entry, auto wipers and lights, multifunction steering wheel, and Bluetooth and USB-input that both allow full control of your MP3 player through the car’s systems.
Premium trim adds leather and heated front seats, while range-topping Sport models gets adaptive LED headlights, electrically adjustable front seats and the innovative, but equally sterile-feeling, fly-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steer system.
Rear passenger space in the Q50 is very decent, if not better than in the class-leading cars. Two tall adults will be comfortable and will have plenty of room, although three will be a bit of a squeeze. The boot has a decent 500-litre capacity, but is an odd inverted-T shape that narrows sharply towards the rear seats, which split and fold as standard.
Should I buy one?
Sadly not. It’s the running costs where the Infiniti really struggles. The auto is hurt by its emissions and high list price, which mean it will cost around £30 more per month for company car tax than an equivalent Audi A3 Saloon or BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics.
Few companies are likely to include it on their fleet options, either, as leasing costs are quite high. Even the more efficient manual lags behind the company car costs offered by the class leaders.
Private buyers have even less reason to opt for the Infiniti Q50. Even after discounts, running costs including the very steep loss of value is expected to add up to over £26k over three years (around £8k more than the class leaders).
This might be more forgivable if the Q50 was class-leading in other areas. Unfortunately, it isn't. In fact, it’s one of the most unrefined modern diesel saloons we've tested, is underwhelming to drive, and while the cabin is roomy enough and impressively tech-heavy, it’s overly complicated and options such as a DAB radio and sat-nav cost far too much.
What Car? says...
Infiniti Q50 2.2d Engine size 2.1-litre diesel Price from £27,950 Power 168bhp Torque 295lb ft 0-62mph 8.7 seconds Top speed 144mph Fuel economy 64.2mpg CO2 124g/km
Infiniti Q50 2.2d automatic Engine size 2.1-litre diesel auto Price from £29,500 Power 168bhp Torque 295lb ft 0-62mph 8.5 seconds Top speed 143mph Fuel economy 58.9mpg CO2 124g/km