Infiniti has re-released the Q50 for a 7th time with minor changes. Though the world appears to be run by CUVs, the mid-size sedan is still a very present market-space, and Infiniti has once again offered their “luxury sports sedan”. I’m here to see if either of those modifier adjectives are as true as they once were. Introducing, the Infiniti Q50 Signature Edition.
SwerveAutos Score: 60/100
Back in 2014, this was absolutely good. Now, in 2021, it’s still good, but it’s showing its age. I really liked it at its inception, being elegant and sporty at the same time, a hard balance to maintain. The hood is creased, forming along the lines drawn by the grill. I do appreciate that Infiniti hasn’t gone the route of a giant grill like much of the competition. You do have LEDs all around, giving a good presence and throw of light.
The Signature Edition is equipped with 19” bright aluminum-alloy wheels, almost chrome in appearance. I do love split 5-spoke designs, but they’re still a bit bright for my taste, albeit a good match to the dark Grand Blue color. The rear is more simplistic, with the lower bumper edging out a bit much to my liking, and the taillights would benefit from some modern touches. It’s dated, but it was sculpted and sleek, well-designed from the moment of its unveiling. I’ll round that out to 7 out of 10.
The sculpted and sleek exterior has a price: interior real-estate. Driver, passenger, and rear room are not as big as I would expect for a “mid-size” sedan, but more on that in the comfort section. But it is simply not an interior I enjoy experiencing or viewing. The materials choices are fine, with mixes of leathers, plastics, real porous wood, and bits of metal. The immediate feeling is being overwhelm by everything. There are so many points of contact and buttons in all places. There are two separate infotainment screens that don’t always make logical sense in their separation, and separate climate control buttons on either side of the lower screen. If you, as the driver, want to enable defrosting, you have to reach over into the passenger panel to turn it on.
The shift knob towers above the center console, and while in park blocks the small cubby in front of it. Not that the cubby is large enough for most things, but if you stored your keys in it, you may have to keep it in drive to retrieve them. Paddle shifters would have been a welcome addition, and I’d prefer the shifter to be shorter or even a twist or button interface. Behind the shifter is a knob which allows another method to interact with the infotainment, though its diagonal switch only works within certain car settings or navigation. The sound system is by Bose, which is actually a good factor in the interior. I’ve always been a Bose fan, which sets me apart from many audiophiles, but the tuning seems linear and has nice response from mid-bass up to clear treble. There are pros and cons to the interior, but it’s quite a disappointing mixed bag, leaving it at 5 out of 10.
If the Q50 had a saving grace, it would be the engine. As standard, you get a 3.0L twin turbo V6, outputting 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. You can opt for the Red Sport trim, which tunes the engine up to 400 hp and 350 lb-ft, also adding dual water pumps and turbo speed sensors. It does have plenty of power for most every scenario, including in the canyons at altitude in Colorado. The 7 speed automatic transmission is fairly responsive, especially on down-shifts in manual mode, but in fully automatic mode it bears some definitive lag, both in shifting and spooling up the turbos.
Handling dynamics are fairly good as well, though it can tend to understeer when pushed, and traction control could not be fully switched off, at least not in a way we could find. Our model was AWD, and it seemed to hold on pretty well. Opting for the Red Sport 400 gives you electrically controlled dynamic suspension, which would theoretically help make it even more planted in the corners, but ours was a bit floaty with the standard suspension. All things considered, it’s still a well-performing sedan with capable power, giving it an 8 out of 10.
Along the same lines of the interior impressions, practicality was compromised. The cabin is not entirely practical, especially for road trips. The seats themselves are decently comfortable, but the driver space feels constrained, and rear leg room and head room is abysmal if you’re anything close to being tall. Even the rear cupholders have a strange flap that can get in the way of many types of drinks if they taper out at the top. The trunk is also subpar, with 13 cubic feet of volume. It’s not terrible, but you do get a bigger trunk in a Ford Mustang, if that makes you think twice. I imagine the crossover and SUV models would be improved in most every way, but for the Q50, it’s definitely not a touring car.
The fuel economy is also mediocre. The standard Q50 gets up to 29 mpg highway, 20 city, and the higher-tuned Red Sport brings it down to 26 highway, 19 city. Given that it is a fairly enjoyable drivetrain to hammer on, that could result in even lower numbers depending on your driving. Overall, the Q50 gets by with only 6 out of 10 for practicality.
Between practicality and interior categories, you may be able to deduce the comfort aspect. I would say that small or short adults, as well as kids, would be fine in the Q50. The seats themselves aren’t very uncomfortable, they just lack the surrounding space to accommodate much of the population. The materials are decent though, many soft-touch surfaces with leather, but the arm rest locations for the front seats are also not in the best locale.
You also lack three-zone climate control, so the back seat vents just take what is given them. It’s not a deal-breaker, but to consider yourself a “luxury mid-size sedan” there are certain things I am beginning to expect or at least hope for. The dual-zone seems to work fine, albeit some of the climate control buttons are still illogically placed. 6 out of 10 for overall comfort.
For a 2014 model, the tech would be entirely adequate. But in this day and age, the competition has brought about improvements that Infiniti has not yet granted upon the Q50. As aforementioned, the infotainment also appears dated, and is confusing to interact with across the 2, or actually 3 screens including the driver’s gauge cluster. Even the various settings buttons don’t necessarily do consistent actions, for example the settings wheel on the main screen takes you only to audio EQ, whereas audio settings within the settings app has more Bose-centric features. Confused? Same.
Notable things missing include ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, heads-up display, wireless CarPlay, Qi phone charging, lane-keep assist… need I go on? Those aren’t necessarily on every new car these days, but if you place the “luxury” tag on your top-of-the-line flagship sedan, I have expectations. Many expectations were not met, granting the technology a 5 out of 10.
Connected Services 6/10
There aren’t much as far as connected services, though Sirius XM is of course happy to oblige your audio interests. Navigation is an option, which does work despite the dated interface. Conveniently, however, it downloads map updates via WiFi which is a welcome feature. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also present, albeit limited to wired connection. There are some basics, but nothing overly interesting, leaving it at a 6 out of 10 for connectivity.
Active Safety 7/10
There are many standard safety features, plus a few optional ones like Blind Spot Intervention, Forward Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, and even Lane Departure Prevention with Active Lane Control (not present on my Signature Edition for some reason). Most of these features do require a higher trim or package, which is not ideal. I would like to see more cars go the route of safety features standard throughout, with a few niche conveniences as options. 7 out of 10 for overall safety.
Priced as tested at $53,000, I think there are many other compelling options in this same price point, but it’s still objectively a fine car. There are others like me, who have appreciated Infiniti design in the past decade, and for warranty’s sake might consider a 2021 Infiniti Q50. But I myself would look to the pre-owned market given the few changes it received over the years. Valuing the MSRP versus what you get, I can’t justify above a 5 out of 10 on value.
Editors Influence 5/10
Objectively, this is a fine car. If you had asked me 7 years ago, this might be a much higher score, as it felt fresh and exciting in an era of otherwise boring sedans. But the competition has been heating up, technology and design have advanced, and Infiniti has not quite kept up. I anticipate a refresh soon, perhaps with the updated styling of the V37 Skyline (the Q50 overseas) or a nod to the new QX55. But as for my influenced score, it gets an on-the-fence 5 out of 10.