2014 Infiniti Q50 S Hybrid Sedan (3.5L V6 Hybrid 7-speed automatic)
Driven On 6/24/2014
It's difficult to recommend the 2014 Infiniti Q50 S Hybrid for several reasons. In terms of fuel economy numbers, it fell just shy of its EPA estimate but well short of the Lexus ES 300h. We take further issue with the unpredictable nature of the Infiniti's hybrid drivetrain as well as its overly stiff ride quality.
PerformanceThe Q50 S Hybrid's 3.5-liter V6 and hybrid electric system combine to produce a healthy 360 hp, besting the Lexus ES 300h (200 hp) and BMW 3 Series ActiveHybrid (335 hp). The Q50 is fast for a luxury hybrid, but disappoints in terms of everyday driveability.
The Q50 Hybrid's 0-60 time of 5.3 seconds ties BMW's 3 Series Hybrid and is quicker even than the conventional Q50 (5.5 sec.). In normal driving acceleration is uneven with occasional uncomfortable stumbles and lurches.
Brake pedal effort/response is inconsistent, makes it hard to stop smoothly at a light. Panic stops from 60 mph required a class-average 117 feet, but there was an unsettling amount of instability and the pedal went all the way to the floor.
The steer-by-wire system is unintuitive, lacks feedback and feels artificial. Eco mode feels lazy and detatched, while Sport mode makes things worse with far too much resistance. In contrast, the non-hybrid Q50's steering was excellent.
The Q50 Hybrid is surprisingly capable on a twisty, given the lack of trust, feedback and consistency. But it's an unpleasant experience regardless. When the driver gives quick steering inputs it just further highlights the system's delay.
The oddites of the throttle, brake and steering inputs leave you guessing as to how the Q50 will react. It is far from enjoyable under most conditions, with annoying lurches and a disconnected feeling. This is exactly how to not do a hybrid.
ComfortThe combination of a lurching drivetrain and an unyielding suspension mean the the Q50 S Hybrid can cause motion sickness for sensitive passengers. Compounding matters are seats which are merely average in terms of comfort.
The seats are well-shaped with 8 power adjustments and standard heat, but padding is on the firm side. Taller drivers may find the seat cushions too short. We felt some fatigue and the leather became stifling after just a few hours.
Bumps of any size send noticeable jolts into the cabin. The Q50's stiff suspension makes for a busy, shopping cart-like ride over rough pavement. Most drivers and passengers will find it objectionable.
Wind and road noises are pleasantly quieted, but road imperfections tend to cause a boomy thud that quickly becomes tiresome. Under moderate to heavy acceleration, engine noise is noticeable, but not unpleasant.
InteriorThe Q50's cabin is tastefully modern and built with praiseworthy materials. There's plenty of passenger space, but the hybrid battery reduces trunk capacity. Reliance on touchscreens instead of buttons does create a bit of a learning curve.
Two touchscreens split most controls and take some getting-used-to time. Small on-screen and physical button layout is unintuitive. The glossy lower screen is prone to glare and fingerprints, but both screens are responsive to inputs.
Getting in and out in tight parking spaces is easy thanks to short sedan doors and a low step-in height.
There's ample headroom and legroom for taller adults in both front and rear seats. The smart design also helps to make the cabin feel even more accommodating.
The forward view is mostly unobstructed, but the tall trunk forces reliance on the standard rearview camera, optional around-view camera and parking sensors when backing into a space.
Hybrid batteries shrink trunk capacity down to 9.4 cu-ft, much smaller than rivals, but you can still squeeze a golf bag or two back there. Interior storage cubbies/bins are adequate, but not generous.
ValueWith the Deluxe Technology package and navigation, this Q50 S Hybrid costs $53,655. That's about $3,000 more than a similarly equipped Lexus ES 300h, but $9,000 less than a BMW ActiveHybrid 3. All-wheel-drive is a unique option for $2,000.
Build Quality (vs. $)
The Q50 is as well built as other luxury sedans with excellent materials and solid construction. It's very unlikely anyone would find much to complain about in this regard.
Even in stock form, the Q50 S is generously equipped. Most of the options are grouped in large bundles, but the price is reasonable for what you get.
With a lack of sportiness, we would be inclined to consider a regular Q50 Hybrid over the Q50 S Hybrid and save $2,400. Even then, it would take more than six years to recoup the hybrid cost versus a gas-only Q50.
EPA estimates of 30 mpg Combined (28 City/34 Highway) place the Q50 Hybrid between the 40-mpg Lexus ES 300h and the 23-mpg BMW ActiveHybrid 3. We averaged 31.1 mpg on our highway-heavy evaluation loop and 26.0 mpg overall.
Infiniti's 4-year/60,000-mile basic warranty beats rivals by 10,000 miles and its 6-year/70,000-mile drivetrain coverage matches Lexus. BMW's ends at 4 years/50,000 miles.
4 years/60,000 miles of roadside assistance is included but scheduled maintenance is not. Lexus covers the first two scheduled maintenances and BMW's maintenance is free for 4 years/50,000 miles.
Fun To DriveThe 2014 Infiniti Q50 S Hybrid is not fun to drive by any measure. As iconsistent and unpredictable as its driving manners are, it's merely tolerable in a daily commute. We were surprised how unimpressive the Hybrid is compared to the conventional Q50.
We can forgive hybrids for some of their idiosyncrasies, but the Q50's are hard to ignore. Lurches under braking and acceleration will have passengers questioning your driving ability.
The Q50 S Hybrid is an agreeable midsize luxury sedan ruined by a poorly executed hybrid drivetrain. Combined fuel economy estimates are 7-mpg better than the standard Q50, but the sacrifices required don't justify choosing the Hybrid.
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