With the launch of the Q50, the brand has seen sales increase and I believe the variant that I’ve been driving around will be its new volume seller. You see, as the luxury wing of Nissan, Infiniti is aiming to provide someone who isn’t interested in the German brands, with something premium and altogether different.
From a design perspective, the Sport model I had on test with its sports bumper, big 18-inch tyres and aggressive stance, really looked the part. On the inside, there is a bit more sophistication and although those two different-resolution screens for the infotainment system confuse me, I still feel the cabin is a great place to be.
The two-litre variant I’ve been driving may upset the anti-German brigade as the motor and gearbox is shared with Mercedes-Benz. It even has the same output of 155kW/350Nm as Mercedes models with the same heart. Infiniti claims consumption of 7.0 litres/100km however, I managed around 8.5 litres/100km with a light foot, which I feel is respectable.
It is a good engine and although I’m not a fan of the gearbox, the motor does a good job of shuffling the Q50 around. Of the three engines available I feel the turbo-petrol is the best as the hybrid can be thirsty at times, while the diesel isn’t as refined.
Driving the Infiniti is a very pleasant experience. I was always comfortable and certainly felt as though I was in something premium. When it comes to pressing on and selecting Sport mode, I found the fly-by-wire steering felt quite vague, while the chassis felt well-sorted.
My test unit had an array of options fitted such as tyre pressure monitor, power and heated door mirrors with folding and reversing synchronisation, intelligent key with smart access and the aforementioned direct adaptive steering, which also includes active lane control, which is two features I feel the car could do without. The safety shield pack on the other hand - with the Intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention, blind spot warning and blind spot intervention, forward emergency braking, predictive forward collision warning, distance control assist and back up collision intervention - I feel is money well spent as it reduces the likelihood of an incident.
At R477 000 for the Sport model, the Q50 appears a bargain when compared with the likes of the BMW 328i M Sport, Sports-auto and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C250 AMG Sports. However, if you throw in the likes of the safety shield, the prices start to creep closer to that of the more established Germans.
Overall, the Q50 is a great car but it simply isn’t as dynamic as a 3 Series and cannot pull off premium as well as Benz.