Unlike the popular European luxury sedans, the designers of premium Japanese models often have made handling secondary to riding comfort. Upon finding ourselves behind the wheel of a 2018 Infiniti Q50, we discovered a moderately priced midsize luxury sedan that’s full of surprises.
Our Infiniti’s personality was solidly European. It rode firmly, and the run-flat, all-season, 18-inch tires exhibited admirable tenacity in sketchy weather. They were untroubled by the random ice patches and wet road surfaces around western Connecticut. The car cornered as sharply as we dared and had plenty more grip if we’d asked for it. Rather than the excessively light steering and sense of isolation common to some luxury cars, the Q50’s steering was weighted just right, and the car’s suspension was highly communicative.
The Q50 wasn’t wildly expensive, either. The base price for our Mocha Almond 2.0t Luxe with all-wheel drive was $38,550. Adding the Essential Package — navigation, Infiniti InTouch telematic services, SiriusXM Traffic, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, fold-down rear seat and driver’s seat power lumbar — added $2,450 to the price. The bottom line was $41,995. The base Q50 2.0t Pure starts at $34,200.
We were impressed by … well, practically everything. The controls were simple and accessible, the seats more than comfortable enough for long-distance driving.
We were surprised to discover this midsize luxury car had a diminutive 4-cylinder engine under the long, nicely shaped hood. But it doesn’t lack for muscle, delivering 208 horsepower with 258 pound-feet of torque, thanks to its turbocharger. It’s bolted to a 7-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is pretty good for a two-ton sedan: 22 mpg city, 28 highway. Infiniti requires premium gasoline, which costs significantly more than regular unleaded.
One of the Q50’s strengths is its drop-dead good looks. The front end, in particular, gives an impression of power and poise. But there’s a downside. The engine compartment looks to be big enough to accommodate a V-12 engine. All that space might be put to better use elsewhere. Driving the family to a restaurant in Danbury, Conn., our 6-foot driver had to slide the seat forward and bring the seatback to a nearly vertical position to accommodate adults in the back seat. And the trunk is small for this class, at 13.2 cubic feet.
The Q50 has not undergone government crash testing, but it received five out of five stars for rollover resistance. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests yielded the top “Good” rating across the board.
Among the Q50’s major rivals are the Acura TLX, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Audi A4 and BMW 3-Series, Cadillac ATS and Lincoln MKZ. All cost $2,000 or more than the Infiniti.
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline Four, 208 horsepower, 258 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 7-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 3,858 lb.
Suspension: double-wishbone front, multi-link rear
Wheels: 18-in. aluminum alloy
Tires: 225/50R18 all-season run-flat
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 13.2 cu. ft.
Fuel capacity: 20 gal.
Fuel economy: 22 mpg city, 28 mpg highway
Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline
Steven Macoy ([email protected]) is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel, Conn.