Despite sales of the Infiniti Q50 looking a little light this year, Nissan’s luxury arm has decided the model moves in numbers substantial enough to keep it on offer. The same cannot be said for the vehicle’s entry level 2.0-liter turbo, however. The motor will be going away for the 2020 model year, leaving the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 as the sedan’s only available powerplant.
Replacing the base 2.0 Pure will be the 3.0t Pure. While a seven-speed automatic transmission continues sending power to the rear wheels (AWD is optional), base models now produce a claimed 300 horsepower. Considering the old 2.0-liter only produced 208 hp, you might think the change comes with a hefty price increase. But you’d be wrong. Infiniti is only asking for $36,400 (plus a $1,025 destination fee) for the base level Q50. That’s just $750 more than last year’s base model four banger.
Power and performance. Luxury and emotion. Balance and elegance. These are the seductive adjectives experts in automotive marketing insist can be found in a company’s newest offering, especially in the premium sports sedan segment.
After spending time on the back roads of Tennessee with the revised-for-2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400, is the marketing hype true? Does it really deliver all the desirable adjectives you’d like in your premium sports sedan offering?
In a word, no.
Distinction is something Infiniti has aimed to achieve for a while now. It’s even attempting to do it under its own label by implementing cutting-edge technologies that can help to take the driver out of the equation or put him in the front of the pack, depending on what you’re into.
Nissan’s luxury division is heading to the Geneva Motor Show with two very different vehicles: the popular Q50 sedan, laden with the best driver assistance technology available, and a Q60 Project Black S performance coupe sporting a sport hybrid system borrowed from Formula One. The former is a sure thing, destined to be on sale for the 2018 model year, while the latter represents an entry in a hypothetical performance line as Infiniti investigates what level of insanity the general public is willing to accept.
In 1988, Nissan released the third-generation Maxima with a bold tagline — “Four-Door Sports Car.” A year later, American TV viewers were introduced to Nissan’s Infiniti brand with commercials that showed a pond.
You win some, you lose some.
That Maxima was indeed a brilliant car. And Nissan finally decided that showing luxury cars was a good way to sell luxury cars. That said, part of me wishes the Infiniti brand had failed, as the Q50 might now be a Maxima. Certainly, I don’t wish anyone at Infiniti to lose their jobs, but I have a love for the Maxima that is unfulfilled by the current model. I never expected to find my ideal sports sedan wearing an Infiniti badge.
The promise of improved performance and tree-hugging fuel economy has made turbocharged engines all the rage in luxury cars. Despite the often failure of those boosted motors to meet their lofty, published fuel economy ratings in the real world, forced induction has a significant — and positive — impact on performance.
It seems Infiniti had gotten the memo.
Like any after-school special will tell us, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Infiniti revealed Monday its refreshed Q50, complete with three turbocharged engines in varying levels of potency. The new VR-series engine, which will be replacing Nissan’s everlasting VQ-series engine first in the Q50, will be a twin-turbocharged 3-liter V-6 that produces 300 horsepower and 400 horsepower in two different tunes.
The base mill in the Q50 will be Mercedes’ turbo four, lifted from the Q30, which makes 208 horsepower. Oh yeah, and there’s a refresh for the QX60 too.
When Infiniti launched their original G sedan, the brand started gaining a reputation as “the Japanese BMW” due to its sharp handling and V6 engine that loved to rev. Today, the Lexus IS and Cadillac ATS have taken the 3-Series’ place as the compact luxury sedans with the sharpest handing and best feel. What of the Japanese BMW then? To answer that question, Infiniti sent me a 2015 Q50S with all the options, including the controversial steer-by-wire system.
In its fight against the big premium brands in Europe, Infiniti is calling upon some German-designed American firepower for its Japanese-made, Euro-market special Q50 sedan.
While Nissan plans to resurrect Datsun to battle Toyota’s scions in North America, the automaker is bringing Infiniti back home to Japan by delicately mounting its badge just so upon the grill of what will be the Skyline sedan. Just the badge, though.
Inside The Industry: If It's So Hard For Infiniti To Come To Japan, How Easy Do You Expect It To Be For Other Brands?
“So would this new Infiniti Q50 be the new JDM Nissan Skyline?” asked TTAC commenter luvmyv8. One of the benefits of having a TTAC editor on the other side of the globe, as opposed to in a basement in Peoria, is that we can get first-hand answers to luvmyv8, straight from Nissan’s and Infiniti’s top men.
Yoko Kubota of Reuters had already written half of her story before we boarded a bus this Tokyo morning. It took us north to Nissan’s Tochigi plant, where we were promised to see the new Infiniti Q50 roll off the assembly lines. Kubota wrote that “in the financial year ended March, Infiniti sold 172,615 vehicles globally, up 12.1 percent year-on-year,” that the brand needs to grow, that the backbone of Infiniti’s volume has been the G37 Sedan, and that its successor, “with a new name Q50, will go on sale in the United States in the summer.” Today, we see how the Q50 is made.
Infiniti’s Q50 will come “this summer” says the new York Daily News, which nonetheless already “reviewed” it, coming to the conclusion that “the all new Infiniti Q50 will be base priced at just $36,450, and the expected to be most popular trim level, the “Premium,” featuring an optional, navigation system is expected to come in at $40,700.”
I want to tell you this, although I know many of you will not believe. I want you to close your eyes and give me the gift of your trust for a few minutes, to travel through memory and dream and ambition with me. I want you to experience the “theater dim” of the interior lights. To open the throttle on the Bose-by-Nissan stereo. To feel the perfect response from the small sedan’s leather-wrapped steering wheel, to catch a slide as the four-wheel-steering kicks in at the most bizarre time during an irresponsible freeway maneuver. To pose Yakuza-style in the baddest sedan on the block, B-pillars swimming barely seen beneath the glass. To feel the 276-horsepower, quad-cam V-8 punch you back into the impeccably tasteful interior.
Then, and only then, if you can dream with me, if you can believe what I believe, then you might be able to look through the stupid Q-names and the dumb-assed rocks-and-trees marketing and the aftermarket Skyline badges and the unfocused-looking Pathfinder rebadge and the Jersey shore types crowding each owner’s meet and just hold this idea in your head:
Infiniti didn’t always suck.
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