The question we fielded the most during our days with the Q50 was by far, “What is it?” When answering simply with Infiniti drew blank stares we suffixed it with “it’s to Nissan what Lexus is to Toyota.”
Whether that is strictly true or not, at the very least it got the point across. Infiniti is the luxury sub-brand of Nissan and while most Malaysians have never seen or heard of Infiniti for that matter —no surprise given that only just over 300 units have been sold so far — this is a definitely a nameplate that will grow in popularity over the next few years.
The Infiniti Q50 — tested here in Premium spec — is slightly larger than the Infiniti range of G-sedans it replaces, and follows the new Infiniti nomenclature where the letter refers to the class of car and the number refers to its hierarchy within the class.
For this, then, the Q denotes a sedan while the 50 makes it clear that it is smaller than the Q60 and Q70.
The cabin may not appear or feel as special as German luxury cars or even Lexus automobiles for that matter, however we felt it was sufficiently luxurious.
Cosy and inviting, the soft-touch leather surfaces alongside wood and aluminium trim certainly differentiated it from its Nissan brethren. No plasticky materials and hollow knocking sounds to be found here.
Another welcome indulgence available in the Premium-spec was the BOSE 14-speaker audio system, with settings accessible through the infotainment system which was intuitive and easy to use, with shortcut buttons and a dual touchscreen interface.
The system managed to avoid the common trap of over complication, at no point did we have to reach for the user manual to figure out how to work it.
When you take dimensions into account the car really starts to make a case for itself, slotting in between the sizes of small and medium cars in the luxury segment, for example the C-class and E-class.
Leg and headroom in the rear was excellent, and rear passengers during our testing period commented that very little fatigue was felt on long drives. The sumptuous leather that we sank into probably had a lot to do with that as well.
Safety is the area where the Infiniti really shines, boasting technology of the likes even the German Big 3 do not offer at this price range, if at all.
Blind spot, lane departure, and backup collision warnings are the least of it, the Q50 GT Premium comes with active safety systems that are able to steer the car back into lane and away from approaching vehicles in blind spots.
On top of this there is automatic braking in the event of predicted frontal or backup collision. The headline feature in the frontal collision warning system is the ability of the Infiniti to detect not just dangerous closing speed to the car ahead, but the one in front of that as well.
This then warns the driver before the car ahead has even reacted to the situation, we experienced this once when an unseen pothole nearly caused a pileup on Jalan Bangsar.
Power from the Mercedes-sourced engine is more than adequate, in this state of tune the 2.0 litre turbo delivers 211bhp with a maximum torque of 350Nm.
Not exactly neck-snapping numbers, however when floored the Infiniti delivered a satisfactory surge of acceleration with imperceptible turbo lag, taking 7.2 seconds for the century sprint.
Responsive though it may be, this is not a car built to challenge the likes of the 3-series in the handling and dynamics department. It is touted as a premium tourer, preferring to cruise at a leisurely pace rather than clip apexes.
Interestingly, one element of driver control that greatly contributes to this is Infiniti Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) which is the world’s first automotive steer-by-wire system. Essentially, under normal operation there is no direct linkage between the steering wheel and the front wheels; the system uses electronics to communicate driver input.
If this sounds a bit scary, Infiniti has left the mechanical system should the electronic system fail. During our testing period DAC did wonders to filter out vibrations from rough road surfaces and eliminate the need for constant steering correction.
If technical excellence is what you are after and you turn up your nose at brand snobbery, we believe the Infiniti may be the car for you.
Given the price point the various elements are hard to ignore, excellent spaciousness compared to similarly priced luxury sedans combined with class-leading technology in a comfortable and refined package.
While you may be questioned on a daily basis as to what exactly you are driving, the sense of accomplishment you will undoubtedly feel piloting such an impressive machine given the price will be more than enough to allay this.
Trust us, the Q50 is not our Premium Family Car of 2014 for nothing.
Specifications of the Infiniti Q50 GT Premium
Engine: 2.0-litre 16-valve turbocharged In-line 4
Max Power: 211hp (155kw) @ 5,500rpm
Max Torque: 350Nm @ 1,250 – 3,500rpm
Transmission: Electronically controlled 7-speed automatic
Fuel Consumption (combined): 13.6km/l (7.4l/100km)
Dimensions (wheelbase, length, width, height): 2,850mm, 4783mm, 1824mm, 1443mm
Safety Features: Driver and front-passenger seat mounted and roof-mounted curtain airbags for side-impacts, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention, Blind Spot Warning, Blind Spot Intervention, Predictive Frontal Collision Warning, Backup Collision Intervention
Price: RM278, 800 on-the-road excluding insurance, three-year/100,000km warranty as standard