Originally published December 22, 2014
Review and photos by Brendan McAleer
Infiniti: it ain’t nothin’ but a G-thang. Well, it used to be – if Acura and Lexus are primarily crossover-slinging Japanese luxury manufacturers, then Infiniti was the company that most went toe-to-toe with BMW in the sports sedan department. Bimmer dealt the 3, Infiniti dealt the G, and everyone was happy.
However, those days are long over, and the G sedan is now a Q-ship (to be precise, it’s called the Q50). Also, the hotting-up crossover market means that, in Canada at least, Infiniti’s bestseller is now the QX60, essentially a nicer version of the Nissan Pathfinder. This sort of thing is happening all over – the Audi Q5 now outsells the BMW 3 as the bestselling luxury vehicle in Canada – but is the new Q50 underperforming? Facing down a slick and slippery West Coast winter morning, I grabbed an all-wheel-drive version of Infiniti’s renamed sport sedan to see if it could still get traction.
All said, it’s a handsome-looking car, translating the swells and stretches of the Infiniti design language into something quite different from the competition. It’s distinctive, there are little touches like the squiggle in the rear three-quarter glass that’s like a splash of Sriracha on the BMW Hofmeister kink, and even the base 17-inch alloys on this entry-level non-S model look just fine.
I distinctly remember overhearing Infiniti’s design head Alfonso Albaisa critiquing display models at a major auto show, with a “Twenty-inch wheels should be an absolute minimum.” However, the team tasked with translating design flights of fancy into real-world application has done a pretty good job making sure the standard Q50 doesn’t have the automotive equivalent of chicken legs. If you want to see cars ruined by caster-sized wheels, check out a base Jaguar F-type or Maserati Ghibli.
So, aside from some mild droopiness about the back, the standard Q50 is refined and cohesive shape, one that progresses on from the G sedan nicely. The S model is the one to buy for looks, but this base model is handsome enough – let’s pop open the door and see how they’ve done inside.
Immediately, the twin-screen setup is going to elicit a few womp-womp noises from those who would prefer both a simpler integration and a more analog feel. Not to mention that having an 8-inch wide high-resolution screen proudly displaying an analog clock face seems faintly ridiculous (my tester didn’t come with the navigation package).
However, once you start playing around with Infiniti’s so-called InTouch technology, you’ll find there’s plenty to like. As with many other infotainment systems, the sheer level of menus and submenus can be overwhelming, but swiping through the Q50’s various displays is relatively straightforward. You can either geek out and fiddle with all the settings or just use it at a surface level, once you’ve figured out how to reset audio levels for bass, which the lot boy (or in this case, previous autojourno) has cranked to 11.