YES, ANOTHER AUTO REVIEW,
BUT THE INFINITI QX50S DEMANDS IT
When I decided to revive this blog, I really didn’t plan to make it always about car reviews, but recently, that seems to be the current trend. Of the 14 blogs before this one, eight were car reviews, and this one will be the fourth in a row.
A couple of reasons for that.
One is that college football season is upon us and writing reports for the Sports Xchange (yes, there “E” at the start is dropped) has impinged on my time. But I expected that and built that factor into my decision to resume the blog in the first place. So that’s no excuse.
Of more import is that recently I really have had the privilege of driving some pretty fine vehicles that have seen significant updates, like the 2016 Infiniti Q50S I had last week. It’s better when you have something new to write about than starting a review with “The Hupmobile is basically unchanged this year from 2015.”
That happens from time to time, of course.
In fact, it happened to the Q50 for 2015. After being introduced as a new model in 2014, essentially taking over the G Series with the company’s new nomenclature (Q for passenger cars, QX for crossovers and SUVs), it was basically unchanged for last year.
For 2016, however, it gets some subtle and some not-so subtle changes. One of the former not obvious to the naked eye is an updated version of the Direct Adaptive Steering system that works out some of the kinks of the previous system and available adjustable suspension dampers. (If you want to know more about DAS, go to www.http://bit.ly/1exOvaN.)
Among the latter are three new turbocharged engines and a new Red Sport 400 model that takes performance to a higher level. It gets the more powerful version of the two 3.0 turbo V6s, upping horsepower to 400 and torque to 350 pound-feet over the 300/295 of the 3.0T and 3.0T Premium trims. The base engine in the 2.0T and 2.0T Premium is a 2.0-liter turbo four rated at 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard with all-wheel drive also available on each trim.
There is a hybrid drivetrain available as well.
All the engines are mated to a seven-speed shiftable automatic transmission. Sport models get extra long paddle shifters mounted on the steering column rather than the steering wheel so they don’t move with the wheel when you turn. Frankly, I’m sure I see a big advantage over having them mounted on the wheel itself, but it’s not a major issue. I have to wonder how many drivers actually use them in normal street conditions. I suspect not many.
My version for the week was the Q50S Red Sport 3.0T 400. With the most horsepower and torque available, driving it was a great experience even when the transmission was set in standard mode. Setting to Dynamic and Dynamic-Plus further enhances the throttle response. For the fuel conscious, there’s also an Eco mode and also a “Personal” mode to suit your style.
Speaking of fuel conscious, EPA mileage numbers for the Q50S are 19 city, 28 highway, 23 combined drinking premium fuel.
Infiniti designers have given the Q50’s cabin an elegant, clean look with lots of gee-whiz technology offered either as standard or in the optional Premium Plus package. The center stack features two screens with the upper one devoted mostly to navigation functions, which also can be adjusted by turning the knob on the center console.
The lower screen is used for some settings for navigation, such as entering a destination, and for other systems such as phone and audio. Hard buttons control climate, making it easier.
I have seen some critics who pan the two-screen approach, but I like it. Too often when everything works off one screen you have to switch from the navigation map to audio to change the radio station. So far, though, I have seen this setup only on Acura and now Infiniti models
Reviewers also picked at the comfort of the seats in the Q50, but the Q50 Red Sport gets eight-way adjustable, leather sport seats with manual thigh extensions and power lumbar and side bolsters, so comfort was not an issue at all with them.
Pricing for the Q50 starts at only $34,855 for the base 2.0T model, but the top-of-line Red Sports starts at $48,855 for RWD models and adds another $2,000 for AWD.
Option packages that add such features as blind spot warning, predictive forward collision warning, front and rear parking sensors, surround view camera (rearview is standard) or Infiniti In-Touch with navigation can add another couple of thousand dollars or so.
What I liked about the 2016 Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400: I liked that it is big enough to be comfortable while agile and responsive enough to make for a fun driving experience.
What I didn’t like about the 2016 Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400: The voice command system allows you to push the button again to skip the introductory message and go directly to your command, which is good, but a couple of times it took a second and even third try to get to the correct radio station. At 13.5 cubic feet, the trunk is kind of small.
Would I buy this car? Sure. It’s a nice package of practicality and fun driving experience.