New Infiniti Q50 suffers from too much weight and not enough dynamic edge to let its fine new engine shine as brightly as it might

What is it?

The new auto-only, 208bhp 2.0 turbo petrol version of Infiniti's Q50 compact saloon.

It joins existing £28,000-plus 2.2-litre diesel and £40,000-plus performance hybrid variants, and continues the brand's quickening assault on the most fruitful prestige segments by slotting in alongside the usual German stalwarts.

Unlike the diesel, there's no entry-level SE spec – only £31,775 Premium and, tested here, £34,125 Sport. That makes it £145 less expensive than equivalent diesel Q50s and pits the Sport against the £195-pricier, 242bhp BMW 328i M Sport auto.

It also faces rivalry from the £2280-cheaper, 181bhp Mercedes C200 AMG Line auto, with which it shares its spangly new US-built engine and familiar seven-speed transmission.

While the Q50 is closer in size to 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the aged Nissan 'FM' platform beneath it means kerb weight falls uneasily into 5-series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class territory.

A penalty of 227kg over the C200 means both cars reach 62mph in just over seven seconds, despite the Infiniti's higher output. The 328i takes just 5.9sec, yet matches the Q50's economy.

What's it like?

Despite its hefty payload, the new single-turbo, aluminium-intensive, direct-injection engine is able to impress. The merest hint of lag is swept aside by strong, linear power delivery between 2000rpm and the 6500rpm red line.

As revs rise the engine note falls happily on the right side of sporting, yet is also eternally smooth and fades on a constant throttle – even showing 4000rpm in fourth at 70mph, the engine is hushed; in fifth or above, its silent.

The transmission is breezy rather than bellicose, even in Sport mode: neither the reaction to clicks on the positive-feeling magnesium paddles nor the shifts themselves are rapid. Slickness is the upside.

The Q50 Sport can only be had with Infiniti's unique steer-by-wire system, paired with a switchable lane-assist function. You'd arguably need to live with the latter to assess it fully, but the steering itself – adjustable for both weight and speed – is best in the middle of three settings.

Its silkiness cossets, but feel is minimal, and by defaulting into stark lightness at lower speeds it can surprise you. Keen drivers would almost certainly prefer the standard electric rack-and-pinion setup.

Double-piston shocks help produce a ride that's generally very forgiving, yet body control is tidy, too. You can therefore conquer twisting country roads with both pace and comfort, but the 3-series' sports car-like dialogue transpires from neither seat nor tiller.

As always, the interior is neatly trimmed, well-equipped and ergonomically sound, if short on style. Space is good, though rear headroom is borderline for six-footers and near-absent for a fifth noggin.

Standard kit is generally better than in the M Sport but not the AMG Line, both of which include stiffer suspension and more extrovert body kits, if that's your predilection.

One big differentiator is that you must spend £2760 on a multimedia pack to get sat-nav in the Q50 Sport; it's standard on the Merc and £1300 on the BMW.

Back to top

Should I buy one?

The cheaper Premium specification version of the Infiniti Q50 is more agreeable, thanks to its more competitive price, but the equivalent Mercedes C200 and BMW 328i models still win for luxury and dynamics respectively.

That said, an impressive new engine makes this easily the most attractive mainstream choice in the Q50 range.

Infiniti Q50 2.0t Sport

Price £34,125; 0-62mph 7.2sec; Top speed 152mph; Economy 43.5mpg; CO2 151g/km; Kerb weight 1692kg; Engine 4 cyls, 1991cc, turbo, petrol; Power 208bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 258lb ft; at 1250-3500rpm; Gearbox 7-spd auto

Add a comment…
michael knight 12 September 2014

old n crusty

that interior looks like something circa 1990's. The japanese, even with Euro design input just cannot get interiors.
supermanuel 12 September 2014

Nice interior

@Michael Knight... I quite like the current infiniti interior design, nothing about it says 1990's to me. That's the Jag XE's USP. @Androo... please stop using the word 'methinks'. In fact, everybody, please STOP using the bl00dy word. It's an appallingly pretentious word that makes the user sound like a d1ck. Not calling you a d1ck of course Androo, I don't even know you, but if you use the word again I will have to hunt you down... :-)
androo 12 September 2014

Better than a Lexus

I'd much rather have this than one of Lexus's hideous creations, but with the Jag XE on the horizon, alu-light and blissfully devoid of silly body creases and bent grillework, Infiniti is still going to be very niche for a while yet methinks. Don't mind this though, and it's nice to see the Japanese putting small petrol turbo engines in at last.
geed 12 September 2014

Was passed by one of these in

Was passed by one of these in white the the other day and was taken by its svelte lines. Without doubt the best looking car in its segment for me. This one looks v.good, especially the last image.
I had not realised how lardy it was though and this in itself means it will always play second fiddle to the more modern Germans for speed, fuel economy and dynamics. With its aluminium construction, the XE should have a significant advantage over all these cars, but Jaguar seem to have a habit of using the most dense aluminium available! nice to have more choice though and despite losing the numbers game, I would certainly consider a Q50 for its exclusivity/looks alone.