Choose Infiniti's Q50 sedan for beauty and tech, not legroom

2017 Q50 3.0t Signature Edition-21092017-0001
The 2017 Infiniti Q50 3.0T is a pretty car, with a strong resemblance to big brother Q70, and strong performance as well.

2017 Infiniti Q50 3.0T Sport AWD: So, it’s 5/7th of a Q70?

Price: $55,520 as tested. The trim level started at $46,650. Technology Package added $1,700 for all the driver assists one could ask for; Driver Assistance added $2,150 for all the other driver assists one could ask for; and Premium Plus Package ($2,250) heated the seats and steering wheel, added InTouch Navigation, and Sirius Navigation, and more.

Marketer’s pitch: “Inspire your senses. Drive Assist technologies help give you command of your drive.”

Conventional wisdom: $2,000 + $2,000 means I’m paying what used to be the price of a decent used car just for inspiration and command.

Reality: OK, OK, those driver assists are worth more than a 2007 Toyota Corolla.

Twins: I had the Infiniti Q70 and Q50 back to back, in the exact same beautiful shade of blue (note to automakers: To increase Mr. Driver’s Seat’s heart rate, send him a blue car).

They seemed so identical that the fleet driver and I stood between them, unsure if someone made an error. We looked left. We looked right.

“Well, this one has the 3.0 turbo,” he said, pointing to the Q50. I imagine this confusion feels better if you paid the “bargain” price for the Q50 instead of full fare for the Q70.

A bit of a whine: Sturgis Kid 4.0’s long legs divined the difference in a hurry. “Do we have to take it to [Sturgis Kid 1.0]’s today?” he moaned.

Um, but it’s only 20 miles away?

Legroom is not so bad for its class, but it’s not the generous cabin of the Q70. Sorry, kid, but those legs are going to end up costing us money.

A bit of a thump: Once we arrived at Sturgis Kid 1.0’s and finished a delightful dinner hosted by 1.0 and prepared by 1.0’s Plus 1, Dad thought back to old times and said “Hey, now that we’re stuffed to the gills, let’s go for ice cream!” And then added, “Let’s all five of us pile into the Q50 and give her a test.”

Three in the backseat is a dicey proposition — stuffed to the gills indeed. And then it’s all fun and tasty soft serve until 1.0 gets banged in the knee by the heater vent while riding the center hump. Don’t try this at home, folks.

What’s new? The Q50 has a lot of new technology to recommend. As for design, it’s getting new looks inside and out for 2018, so this review may suit the bargain hunters, as if a $55,000 car might be a bargain at some point.

Up to speed: The 3.0-liter V-6 twin turbo engine creates a respectable 300 horsepower. It stays calm and serene until some power is needed, and then the Q50 zips onto the highway or passes cars quickly.

On the road: Infiniti keeps on offering a bevy of driving choices with the Infiniti Drive Mode Selector, and I keep on finding each of them just a hair … off. Normal is fairly boring, Sport is not bad, while Sport Plus has nice handling but the steering feel is not right. It’s like someone added a brick to either side of the steering column and so it feels tight and heavy, but not much more attuned to the road.

Personal, though, is where Mr. Goldilocks Seat finally found his “just right.” A splendid time on Chester County’s country roads was finally had by all. But I wonder — do people use the other modes at all?

Shifty: The shiftable 7-speed automatic works well in automatic or shift mode, although the shift feel leaves little satisfaction.

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Inside, though, the Q50’s space is far smaller than the Q70, but it matches the larger model for beauty and comfort — well, except for rear legroom.

Play some tunes: This is one area the Q50 beat the big brother Q70 I recently tested. The Q50 with Infiniti InTouch Dual Display System with Infiniti Controller had two touch screens and a dial for certain functions, while the Q70 had a circa-2011 series of buttons that matches most Nissans.

Operation of the Dual Display was not exactly easy or seamless, but it’s certainly a more attractive package. The Bose Performance sound was just shy of excellent; no midrange adjustment meant music was not as rich as it could be.

Driver’s Seat: I found comfort to be excellent in the Q50’s leather-appointed 8-way sport seats. Sorry, folks, call me an old-fashioned miser, but anything over $40,000 should have cooled seats as well.

Night shift: The overhead lights cast an extremely subtle glow, which I found pleasant. The LED headlights brightened the road nicely.

Fuel economy: I averaged just under 21 mpg in a mix of driving, no better than the Q70 with a 5.6-liter V-8. Premium fuel is required.

Where it’s built: Tochigi, Japan

How it’s built: Consumer Reports rates the Q50 2 out of 5 on reliability.

In the end: The Q50 offers a pretty nice package for the price range, provided you don’t need much legroom. But the reliability rating gives me pause.