What's the used Infiniti Q50 saloon like?
If you were shopping for a premium executive saloon, an Infiniti might not be at the top of your list.
In a hotly contested class of some supremely good cars, whose badges proudly proclaim Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, not to mention Jaguar, the Japanese firm’s name might not be the first one that springs to mind. Worse, if you poke around underneath this Q50, you’ll discover that at heart it’s a Nissan – not a premium badge at all.
However, the Q50 has distinctive and curvy styling; good as those other cars are, they are rather sober to look at, and the sheer volume of them on the roads means they’re never likely to stand out in a crowd.
An executive car needs a great deal more than just to look good, of course, and the Q50 starts with a 2.1-litre diesel engine derived from a Mercedes-Benz unit. There’s also an on-trend petrol-electric hybrid engine, where a 3.5-litre V6 and a small 67bhp electric motor join together to give the Q50 some sparkling performance without compromising its efficiency, as well as two regular petrol engines in 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre forms.
Opt for the entry-level SE trim and you'll find a reversing camera, 17in alloy wheels, parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and dual touchscreens as standard. Sport adds larger wheels and a sportier look. Upgrade to Premium and you get leather upholstery, heated front seats, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and an engine start-stop function, while Premium Tech models throw in Infiniti's Safety Shield technology, a Bose stereo, a 360deg camera and the InTouch infotainment system complete with sat-nav. Later models added Sport Tech, S Sport and S Sport Tech trims, with increasing opulence and added confusion for the poor salesmen.
On the road, the Q50 performs well with the 2.0 petrol engine, even if it lacks the sort of flexibility you might expect from a turbocharged engine. The hybrid, on the other hand, is seriously rapid and reasonably economical. The range-topping 3.0 petrol is the smoothest and most powerful in the range, although its standard-fit seven-speed automatic gearbox is slow to respond at times.
The sole diesel in the range is unrefined by class standards. The engine’s clatter resonates around the interior and there’s a lot of mechanical vibration, even at low speeds. The standard manual gearbox is notchy and unpleasant to use, so we would try to seek out the optional automatic.
Dynamically, the Q50 also falls behind the best in class. The Direct Adaptive Steering system of the more expensive models allows you to alter the weight and responsiveness of the steering, but it feels fake and disconcerting. The standard set-up is better, but it still feels rather artificial. The diesel Q50 rides well, remaining settled much of the time, but the hybrid has an uncomfortably firm, jarring ride.
Inside is a good driving position and a dashboard that sticks out for its dual screens: one 7.0in and the other 8.0in. By default, the top screen deals mostly with sat-nav and parking cameras, while the lower one controls other functions, including the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector. The rest of the interior is a bit clunky, though, with too many buttons dotted around and not enough flair to its design.
There’s plenty of room in the front, but rear passengers don't have much leg room. The middle perch, blighted by an intrusive transmission tunnel, is particularly uncomfortable. Infiniti claims a boot capacity of 500 litres, but with a floor that slopes upwards to make room for the battery beneath and a bootlid reluctant to offer any hydraulic assistance whatsoever, the boot hardly seems more convenient than that of a rival such as the BMW 3 Series.