Infiniti Q50 Hybrid review
The Infiniti Q50 competes in the compact executive saloon class against the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and Mercedes C-Class. It’s a roomy and well equipped contender with dramatically swoopy styling, but dynamically it doesn’t compare well to its more driver-focused European rivals, and its interior feels a touch less premium, too.
The Infiniti Q50 Hybrid is interesting, though, as it’s an attempt to inject some environmental credibility into a model that’s – at face value at least – quite sporty. It has a large 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine under the bonnet, which, coupled with an electric motor, generates a heady 355bhp – enough to propel the Q50 from 0-62mph in a shade over five seconds.
With four-wheel drive on the options list as well, those are definitely numbers that should turn enthusiast heads, and in fact there’s not much else that combines self-charging hybrid technology with a focus on strong performance – at least in saloon-car configuration. One obvious rival is the Lexus IS 300h, but that’s a good deal slower, and the same can also be said of the Ford Mondeo Hybrid. The Infiniti’s best official fuel-economy figure of 45.6mpg isn’t bad for a high-performance car, but if economy is your thing, there are better options.
The Q50 Hybrid's 'self-charging' technology means it doesn’t need to be plugged in, because the battery is charged by the engine and under regenerative braking. That also means it has a pretty small battery – at least by plug-in hybrid or pure-electric standards – so there’s very limited range in electric-only mode. You’ll be lucky to get much more than a mile out of it in town before the petrol kicks in, but it’s a similar story with the Lexus IS.
There are just two Q50 trim levels available with hybrid drive: Sport and Sport Tech versions. Both are available with either rear or four-wheel drive, but come as standard with seven-speed automatic transmission. As you’d expect from a car costing well over £40,000, the Sport is well equipped with plenty of luxuries. You get LED headlamps and big 19-inch alloy wheels, plus cruise control, climate control, keyless entry, a reversing camera and all-round parking sensors. The Sport Tech is even more lavish, with sat nav, 360-degree cameras, active cruise control, adaptive headlamps and extra hi-tech safety kit – all worthwhile options, even for the extra £5,000 demanded.
It all looks pretty good on paper, if you’re looking for a green-ish performance option. Unfortunately, however, the Infiniti makes a few too many compromises with its driving experience to make it a model we’d really recommend.
Around town, it’s quiet and serene, with compliant suspension that soaks up most of what UK roads can throw at it. As well as the possibility of making quiet progress on the electric motor only, the Infiniti also has noise-cancelling technology. Out of the city, the car demonstrates good grip and poise in corners, but the steering is unusual, with fly-by-wire technology removing any mechanical connection between your hands and the front tyres. It feels vague and disconnected, and significantly reduces the Infiniti’s fun factor. Another significant point against the car is the hybrid powertrain itself. The petrol engine is smooth, but the switchover from electric to petrol mode can be awkwardly abrupt.
Interior space is good, with loads of rear-seat room. The boot is a little less impressive, though, as the battery pinches 100 litres of the conventional Q50’s 500-litre luggage space, but you still get a few litres more than in a BMW 3 Series.
All in all, the Infiniti Q50 is something of a mixed bag. It’s fast and luxurious, but rival hybrids and plug-ins offer significantly better tax efficiencies and fuel economy, which makes us wonder why Infiniti really bothered at all with the hybrid powertrain.
For a more detailed look at the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid, read on for the rest of our in-depth review.