Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Boston, MA – Cue the Infiniti. Or should we say “Q”?

Arriving at Canadian Infiniti dealerships in August is the 2014 Q50, which for those of us familiar with Infiniti products represents a major refresh of the G37 sports sedan – a car that has been near and dear to driving enthusiasts’ hearts for its great rear-drive/all-wheel-drive chassis, talkative hydraulic steering and strong V6 power.

But what’s with the Q?

Infiniti is adopting a simplified nomenclature for its model lineup – one that pays homage to its original vehicle, the 1989 Q45 luxury sedan. (This alpha-numeric rejig could also make the luxury arm of Nissan a shoe-in for the next Bond film.)

2014 Infiniti Q50
2014 Infiniti Q50. Click image to enlarge

All 2014 Infiniti cars will carry the prefix “Q”, and SUV/Crossover offerings will start with “QX”. As such, the luxury sedan formerly known as M becomes the Q70, the G in coupe and convertible form becomes the Q60, and the G37 replacement is the Q50.

Continuing with the theme, the EX37 crossover becomes the QX50, the JX35 becomes the QX60, the racy FX is now the QX70, and the full-size luxo-barge QX56 begets the QX80.

While this may seem like a confusing move – we all pretty much know our Gs from our Ms from our EXes  – Johan de Nysschen, President of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, points out that Infiniti is at a crossroads. “Infiniti is currently a US-centric brand and we are now on a mission to become a global brand. As such, we need a nomenclature that can clearly communicate the brand’s hierarchy in new markets.”

Infiniti is embarking on a strategy of globalization that, in ten to fifteen years as de Nysschen claims, will position the marque as one of the prominent providers of performance/luxury vehicles worldwide. In other words, they’re gunning for Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Just like back in 1989.

To that end, there will be a full-size halo sedan above the current M… er Q70, as well as smaller, fuel-efficient, premium entry-level offerings.

2014 Infiniti Q50
2014 Infiniti Q50. Click image to enlarge

Unlike with the current naming system, the new Infiniti numbers bear no relationship to engine displacement or power. The higher the number, the more senior and expensive the vehicle. Engine downsizing is the way of the future, and de Nysschen observes, “Customers aren’t comfortable going from a 56 to a 20.” Secondary badging on the fender will denote engine displacement and type.

Got it?

Now to this rejigged sport sedan, which is the first prong of attack in Infiniti’s global assault. Canadian pricing starts at $37,500 for the base rear-drive 328-hp Q50 3.7 with 17-inch alloys and leatherette interior. At the top of the rear-wheel-drive ladder is the fully optioned Q50S (Sport) at $47,950. All-wheel drive models range from $43,400 to $51,750. The hybrid comes in both RWD and AWD, ranging from $47,000 to $56,450.

The visuals are certainly promising. It’s a more refined and resolved piece. Pictured is the S model with 19-inch wheels and its more aggressive front fascia. All Q50s feature standard full LED lighting. Infiniti’s signature organic flow is less bulbous here than in the G37, especially in the hindquarters. This is no visual trick – the car is slightly lower and wider, looking understated yet taut and muscular.

2014 Infiniti Q502014 Infiniti Q502014 Infiniti Q502014 Infiniti Q50
2014 Infiniti Q50. Click image to enlarge

The wheelbase remains the same but more shoulder room and legroom has been liberated thanks to some interior re-contouring. The structure is stiffer and lighter due to strategic use of high tensile steel. Infiniti claims an overall 26 kg weight reduction.

I’ve always found Infiniti interiors to be refreshingly different, showing their own brand of well-crafted organic artistry. The Q50’s cabin continues this directive with materials and workmanship that kick the whole experience up a notch from the outgoing G37. The seats are terrific, driving position is good and the low beltline makes for decent outward visibility.

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