After three non-stop hours behind the wheel of a 2016 Infiniti Q50, I’ve never been more mixed on a car. It simply delights, frustrates, pleases and annoys all at the same time. Here’s why.
Throughout my week of driving the car, I had taken short trips while saving one long-distance trip for the compact car. My reasoning is simple. This trip was a mix of city, highway and dirt driving through the northern Colorado landscape of fields and rolling hills. There are hair-pin turns, long, straight roads and plenty of deep drops and quick climbs. It is ideal for seeing how cars really handle, how they accelerate and how entertaining they are when the eventual boredom sets in.
Put to this test, the 2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Premium was full of hits and misses.
Before we get to the drive, we should first start with how it wonderful it looks. Admittedly, I haven’t always been a fan of Infiniti’s recent design “language” with the front grill either looking like a bloated fish or a sharp stylish addition.
In the case of the small Q50, I think it works really well and gives a stylish character to the vehicle (not the bloated fish look with larger Infiniti vehicles).
This styling grabs your attention and sets it off especially against tough competition like the BMW 3 series or Lexus IS vehicles. It gives it a distinct look and this styling is nicely carried around into the rear.
Inside the Cabin
Traveling across the northern Colorado farming landscape at o’dark hundred provides plenty of time to look over the interior. Likely, too much time actually.
Why too much? With this much time to over analyze the cabin, the negatives quickly overwhelm the positives.
Stepping back from this drive, and to be fair, there is plenty to like with the cabin. For example, the seating position is great for a driver, the knobs are easy to reach and there is plenty of storage for a compact car.
However, there is also plenty of “not love” for the interior. For every like, I found a counter. The good seating position caused me to hit my head on every entry/exit. While the knobs are easy to reach, they are beyond confusing to figure out which is likely due to the dual-screen navigation and information screen. I still have yet to find a good way to find a radio station nor understand which controls work which.
Oh and where is the soft-touch materials commonly found in most luxury vehicles. I found some of the arm rest (I never really used) and not much elsewhere.
Then there are the comfortable, heated seats which worked great warming me up on the crisp fall morning (I know it was cold, because the car gave me a “low exterior temperature warning. Really.). However, understanding what setting the seats are on and finding the button is exceedingly difficult. Pressing the button (near the very bottom of the center stack and about a .25” big), turns on the seats and a non-descript, gray bar appears on the bottom of the navigation screen (two screens remember), to tell you what setting it is on (4 settings total: high, low, auto, off).
According to the spec sheet, this car has a heated steering wheel. I didn’t even bother trying to figure that out.
Don’t get me started on the awkward steering wheel controls. Turning on cruise control was a continual adventure in smashing buttons.
On the Road
Behind the wheel was much like the interior – lots to like and much to not.
The likes are easy. Pressing the gas pedal brings an immediate smile to the face. The 2.0L turbo-charged inline four-cylinder’s 258 lb-ft of torque comes alive from the rear-wheel drive car. Like most turbos, the off-the-line speed is a lot of fun as well as passing at any speed. It is smooth power and the 208 horsepower with the 7-speed transmission stands out on the car.
Interestingly, the fuel economy isn’t as good as one would expect with this powertrain combination. It is EPA-rated at 23/31/26 city/highway/combined. I was thinking with the vehicle’s small footprint, light weight, turbocharged engine and 7-speed transmission that highway MPGs, at least, would be better.
Yet, the smooth power can’t replace the loud cabin and poor suspension. The northern Colorado roads are not as smooth as they are in say California, but they aren’t that bad. I swear the Infiniti made them feel worse. There was literally a span of roads where I slowed down due to the vibrations.
Lastly, the steering. Infiniti tells me car has “vehicle sped sensitive power steering.” That maybe the case, but I promise you my non-power steering 1962 Chevy C10 is easier to do a U-turn in.
Here’s the thing. As much as this car was a hit and a miss for me, my test model was only $40,705. Now, this may seem like a lot to a non-luxury buyer, yet it really isn’t. The sharp styling, turbo engine and luxury interior is enough to justify the price. If, well, you don’t have the same “concerns” as I do on everything else about it.
Model: 2016 Infiniti Q50 2.0t Premium
Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged Inline Four-Cylinder
Transmission: 7-Speed Automatic
EPA-Estimated Fuel Economy: 23/31/26
Premium Plus Package (Navigation, heated seats/steering wheel, driver seat lumbar and power along with memory settings for both seats) – $2,150
Total: $40,705 with $905 destination charge
Tim Esterdahl is a married father of three who enjoys all things automotive including wrenching on his collection of old pickups. You can find his work here and in print in Truck Trend magazine as well as on Pickuptrucks.com. Recently, he is growing a huge audience at his website PickTruckTalk.com
He also plays an absurd amount of golf. Like, really absurd.