Peer pressure is a funny thing. We’re told as kids not to succumb to it, that just because little Billy or Sally does something, it doesn’t mean we need to do it too. This parental wisdom of course stems from the desire to keep children from being encouraged to make foolish choices that will surely result in hardship.
Peer pressure has its benefits too, and nowhere is this more evident than in the auto industry. If one competitor gets an edge over another in terms of sales or any marketable benefit, every other competitor scrambles to follow suit, and usually the consumers stand to benefit.
Infiniti has seemingly succumbed to the peer pressures of its competitors in the entry-level, compact luxury sedan segment – a group of cars renowned for their impressive blend of style and cachet, performance and comfort. Ze Germans, in particular, have done an outstanding job of stretching the segment across a vast price (and performance) spectrum. Cadillac quickly followed suit, offering a multitude of engine choices for its competent ATS sedan, and even Lexus has fitted their IS compact sedan with a trio of power plants (expanded to a four-engine offering this year).
Infiniti’s Q50, meanwhile, has tried to compete with them all using a single (albeit very good) 3.7 L naturally aspirated V6 engine. That is, until now, thanks to the benefit of turbocharging. Infiniti’s compact luxury sedan is enjoying a renaissance of sorts this year – a mid-life crisis, if you will – with a greater spread from entry-level turbocharged four-cylinder (just like everyone else), to a rip-roarin’ twin-turbo V6 that’ll get the adrenaline glands working hard.
Our subject here is the starting point of the Q50 line up with its 2.0 L turbocharged four-cylinder engine developing a modest 208 horsepower. Besides BMW’s meagre 320i, the Infiniti’s power is lowest in the class by a fair margin, and ties with the class-below Mercedes-Benz CLA – with which it shares this engine. Its torque at 258 lb-ft – is a measure that most motorists will feel in daily driving, and is a more competitive output.
Despite tipping the scales around 100 kg heavier than its competitors, the Infiniti’s little four-banger provides adequate oomph that should satisfy most buyers. For those needing more gusto, there are two twin-turbo V6 Q50s to choose from that are sure to do the trick.
The power is directed to all four wheels in our AWD press car through a seven-speed automatic. Shifts are swift if not rifle-bolt crisp, and there are no steering-wheel-mounted paddles to engage the driver further in the shifting activities. Braking is composed, smoothly modulated, and adequate for arresting speed in a hurry.
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Infiniti introduced a fully electric steering system with the Q50 when the model first came out. The upside is that depending on the driver’s mood, the feel and steering rate can be digitally adjusted. The downside is that the Q50 has always suffered from artificial-feeling steering and, coupled with tall sidewall tires (225/55/17) there’s a distinct lack of the sharpness and mechanical precision found in some of the best competitors’ cars.