Infiniti Q50 Premium S Hybrid long term review: Report 3
THE Infiniti Q50 visited with us on long-term loan in July, standing proudly on our driveway, its flared haunches and swooping lines declaring it ready for action.
Immensely popular in the US, Europe and Asia, the Infiniti brand is still finding its way in Australia, its name once on the side of the Red Bull F1 car helping that cause.
Well, if it's good enough for Daniel Ricciardo, then it is good enough for me and we embraced our time in the performance hybrid in enthusiastic fashion.
How could you not? It is nice to look at, comfortable to sit in, and is equipped with a list of enviable technology.
Yet there is something about this car, the way it combines the old and new, luxurious elements with more staid fittings, in such unconventional fashion, that is a little bit unsettling.
On the inside
The two huge colour touchscreens in the centre of the dash are a clear indication that Infiniti is at the cutting edge of on-trend technology. They are easy enough to use and you can access emails and sync to Facebook and Google by linking your smartphone through the USB.
Now here's the thing though. The dashboard in which it sits feels a touch old fashioned with the materials used lacking some of the tactile and visual appeal seen in competitors. The other instruments are super conventional by comparison too giving the impression that the designers were hedging their bets.
Overall though, the cabin is a nice place to be. Everything you need is within reach, the seats are supportive even in the small of the back, and the steering feels nice in the hand. The back seat is really best suited for two, children if possible, because while there is a fair bit of head room given the sloping roof, those with longer legs will struggle to really stretch out.
Storage options are limited which is not good for a family like ours given the kids need to take everything from toys to craft to random shells and rocks on every single trip.
The boot in our hybrid was quite small too and while my head knows you have to put the batteries somewhere, it still annoys when you struggle to fit in the school bags and weekly shop at the same time.
Poor you, you say. But how does it drive?
My husband, who spent some time behind the wheel, was anxious to offer his comments for a review. As I am writing this, he sends me a text. "Say it has nice lines. Solid car. Great on the highway. Fast. Sluggish transitioning to fuel." Right, well my work here is done.
He clearly has that economy of words thing mastered but his succinct response is pretty close to the mark.
It is the Q50 S Premium hybrid all-wheel drive that we are putting through its paces here so in addition to the 3.5-litre V6 it also sports an electric motor. Together they offer up 268kW of power with a peak torque of 546Nm which in reality means a super quick car should you need it.
We pushed it along in a spritely fashion and it responded with ease allowing you a bit of fun on long tedious drives. It is fairly lively around the corners too but the weight of the car is noticeable as is the body lean, making for a much less exciting experience than I had anticipated.
I think the thing that lets down this Q50 is its steering which can be quite frustrating and vague. Its steer-by-wire system which uses electric signals rather than mechanical ones feels artificial and the feedback's not quite on point. The settings can be adjusted to the driver's likes but to be honest none of them feel truly natural or comfortable. You can slip it into Sport too but that just adds weight without performance.
Ok, so did you like it?
Yes, well, mostly. It impressed on the open road when it could show its mettle and in stop-start city traffic where the electric motor comes into its own and has a pleasing effect of fuel economy figures.
We liked the safety features too (although the myriad driver aids can be a touch intrusive) and we thought the lodgings were comfortable to boot.
The Q50 S Premium Hybrid has a lot going for it and it was fairly easy to live with and is a good offering in a tough segment. The real test for Infiniti is convincing the public to let go of preconceptions.
Model: Infiniti Q50 S Premium Hybrid AWD.
Details: Four-door all-wheel-drive premium compact sedan hybrid.
Price as tested: $73,400 before on-roads.
Kilometres this month: 2327km.
Fuel economy this month: 7.3-litres/100km.
The good: Beautiful body design, superb comfort, seriously quick car but still impressive economy, Bose sound system, driver assistance inclusions.
The not so good: Lacks the real premium cabin feel of German compact exec rivals, nor does it match them in the driving dynamics stakes, boot is small in this hybrid model, foot brake instead of auto hand brake annoys.