2021 Infiniti Q50 Review
Certain things can get better with age, but the 2021 Infiniti Q50 doesn't happen to be one of them. The last time this luxury sport sedan received a full redesign was 2014. Compared to newer luxury sedans in its class, the Q50 looks and feels out-of-date in almost every way.
To its credit, the Q50 is a stout performer, with a standard 300-horsepower V6 engine and an available 400-hp upgrade in the top Red Sport 400 trim. But even so, the Q50 isn't as enjoyable to drive as the Acura TLX, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA-Class, and Volvo S60. You'll be better off with one of those models, or at least waiting for a Q50 redesign.
The Infiniti Q50 has a curious and often confusing mix of design. On the performance side, the engine is powerful, but the lifeless steering and middling tires quash any sporting intentions. Inside, you'll find comfortable seats, but the clumsy and cluttered two-screen infotainment system will exasperate even the most tech-savvy users. Other sedans are simply more cohesive and refined for similar money.
How does the Q50 drive?
There's still some life left in the Q50, and that's mostly thanks to its standard turbocharged V6 engine. It revs smoothly and makes ample power. The Q50 also is quicker than the average small luxury sedan. In our testing, it needed only 5.4 seconds to get to 60 mph. Merging into traffic is a breeze. The Q50's brake pedal makes it easy to stop smoothly in typical driving, though actual braking performance isn't as good. Our test car needed 123 feet to stop from 60 mph in our emergency-stop test. Most competitors stop about 10 feet shorter.
Handling capability and steering feel are disappointing. The Q50's fully electric system bypasses the usual mechanical connection to the front wheels and all but eliminates feedback and accuracy. There might be a proper sport sedan hiding in here somewhere, but the Q50's meddling electronic systems make it hard to drive this car smoothly or enjoyably.
How comfortable is the Q50?
The front seats are comfortable even on long drives. Rear passengers will be pretty comfortable. But the Q50's ride comfort, or lack thereof, takes its toll. The Q50 feels almost constantly busy on anything but a perfectly smooth road. Driving over even moderately sized imperfections is noticeably jarring.
Interior noise is dominated by road noise from other vehicles, especially at highway speeds. Thin windows and minimal door insulation are the likely culprits. Thankfully, the engine omits a pleasant, quiet whir, even under full throttle. The climate control system works pretty well for keeping a set temperature, but the controls aren't logically arranged.
How’s the interior?
Front passengers won't have any issues getting in or out of the Q50, and the driver's seat and steering wheel have plenty of adjustment so you can find a comfortable position. Taller rear passengers will need to mind their heads and feet when getting in. Visibility out of the front and sides is better than average, thanks to the Q50's slim roof pillars, but the short rear window and high trunklid compromise the view to the rear.
The big demerit here is the Q50's control layout. The dual-screen layout is just odd and makes finding and operating controls a lot harder than it should be. Infiniti needs a do-over.
How’s the tech?
Without a doubt, this is the most disappointing part of the Q50 experience. The dual-screen infotainment system is a patchwork of mismatched fonts, resolutions and menus that will confound most buyers used to well-integrated technology. We experienced many navigation glitches and hours of frustration attempting to memorize the menu architecture. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration is standard but doesn't eliminate the exasperation of simply using the Q50.
We found some of the Q50's driver aids to be overly sensitive to the point where we turned them off. Adaptive cruise did work well, but Infiniti's Active Trace Control, which uses predictive technology to aid in performance driving, is clumsy and not really effective.
How’s the storage?
The generous trunk opening is nice to have, but the fairly prominent wheelwells intrude into the cargo area. The trunk hinges are mounted on the outside of the cargo area, allowing you to load the Q50 to capacity without risk of damaging items when you close the lid. The rear seats fold down, but the resulting opening into the cabin is small and not very useful.
Inside, the cupholders will need to do most of the daily heavy lifting since there's no convenient place to store something the size of a smartphone. There is a flip-up door in front of the shift lever, but it's better suited for access cards or smaller items like a pack of chewing gum. The center console storage is compromised by USB and power ports.
How economical is the Q50?
We tested the all-wheel-drive Q50 (non-Red Sport), which has EPA-estimated fuel economy of 22 mpg (19 city/27 highway). V6-powered competitors post similar figures. Pleasingly, our test car easily met those estimates, and on our 115-mile evaluation route, our Q50 returned an impressive 25 mpg. The Q50's fuel tank is pretty big too.
Is the Q50 a good value?
The Q50 comes with a lot of style and a decent amount of power, but it falls a bit short in terms of premium content. At first glance, the interior seems to be well equipped for the modern driver, but upon closer inspection, it trails many competitors in technology and trimmings. Fit and finish is up to the mark, but the many materials and styles run counter to a more appealing simple design scheme. The busy approach detracts from the car's luxurious feel.
Infiniti purports that the Q50 offers both thrills and luxury, but even with its turbocharged V6 engine and reconstructed leather seats, the Q50 falls short of offering a true luxurious or sporting experience. Deep beneath the piles of modern technology lie the bones and the feel of the old, and much-appreciated, G37 sedan. But time and lack of real development and fine-tuning have saddled a solid chassis with a disappointing numbness.
Which Q50 does Edmunds recommend?
The Q50 in Luxe trim gets our recommendation since it adds a handful of convenience features that make it feel marginally more special than the base Pure trim. In particular, it's worth stepping up to this model for the included adaptive cruise control.
INFINITI Q50 models
The 2021 Infiniti Q50 is available in four trim levels: Pure, Luxe, Sensory and Red Sport 400. Most feature a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine (300 hp, 295 lb-ft of torque), while the Red Sport 400 increases output to 400 hp and 350 lb-ft. A seven-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels. All-wheel drive is offered throughout the lineup.