Seat Time is a chance for us to share our impressions of vehicles being tested in the Autoline Garage and at media previews from around the globe.
Reviewer: Chip Drake
Vehicle: 2016 Infiniti Q50
Price: From $33,950
Walking Around The Red Sport: VIDEO FEATURE
Q Branch, in James Bond film lore, was the gadget department of MI5 which created everything from his “loaded” attache case to the “weaponized” Aston Martin DB5. And though Bond was the super spy hero of the series, who didn’t enjoy the spice that Q and his “tools” brought to each movie?
And speaking of spice, that’s what the Infiniti brand is bringing to its own branch of Q products, namely the three versions of the Q50 sport sedan.
The Q, you might recall, replaced Infiniti’s G sedan back in 2013. And now Nissan’s premium nameplate is rolling out three new versions of this compact luxury car. All come with a refreshed sexy exterior styling and the safety/security systems we’ve all come to expect. What differentiates the vehicles are some Performance/Technology features, optional add-on packages and the fact that all three versions have their own new engine.
The 2016 Q50 starts with a new base engine, a 2-Liter turbocharged inline 4 with 208 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque with 24 miles per gallon combined. Our loaner vehicle was an All-wheel drive model which was definitely fun to drive. The vehicle’s MSRP, almost $43,000 ($33,950 base), was disappointing on the interior; with the “Leatherette seating surfaces” and the faux wood trim. For $43k, you’d think you might be getting a little nicer cockpit.
But if you’re looking for a little more power, Infiniti equips the Q50 with what it calls its lightest, most powerful, cleanest and most fuel-efficient V6 ever offered. Built in Nissan’s famous Iwaki Plant in Japan — home of previous award-winning engines — you can move up to the Q50 Premium which delivers 300 horsepower and starts at $40,000.
However, if you’re looking for the big gun, Infiniti didn’t let you down. The third model of the Q50 sport sedan is actually called The Red Sport and it’s this new V6 powertrain mentioned above with not only 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, but coming in only a couple of mpgs behind the 2-Liter with 22 combined. In addition, the luxury quotient goes up on this model with leather seats, aluminum and maple wood interior trim and three different optional packages that bring the price of the Red Sport up to $57,475.
Every engine in the Q50 family was fun behind the wheel. The choice really becomes what do you want surrounding you in the cockpit : an upgraded interior and technology that makes the car darn close to its luxury competitors, or fewer features to bring the price down.
In the end this Q50 may not be a “weaponized” Aston Martin, but if you’re driving the 400 horsepower Red Sport you almost feel like you’re flying Q’s “Little Nellie” (the Wallis WA-116 autogyro) from “You Only Live Twice” and you just may not want to come down.