Every time I drive an Infiniti sedan or sport coupe, I’m struck by how much performance you get for your money. My time in a 2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport was no exception to the rule.

I found myself kind of falling for the Q50 Sport. It was handsome, it handled well, and it had a honey of an engine. Any car that gets those fundamentals right will win my respect and admiration, even if I think some things could be improved.

Design Notes

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Exterior
- image 776589
The headlights look just menacing enough to let you know the car has performance intentions

The first thing that struck me about the Q50 was how nice it looked.

The front has Infiniti’s signature grille and a low, sculpted hood. The headlights look just menacing enough to let you know the car has performance intentions.

From the side, the most notable design feature is a sharp crease flowing from the headlights back through both doors. There’s a rear “hip” crease that picks up midway through the rear door and flows in a gentle arc to the tail light. A third crease tidies things up at the bottom of the design. The signature crescent-shaped C-pillar trim is unmistakable.

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Exterior
- image 776581
Big twin exhaust outlets finish up the design and again hint at the sporty powertrain.

At the rear, the Infiniti Q50 Sport has an arching trunk lid that spans the tail lights. Big twin exhaust outlets finish up the design and again hint at the sporty powertrain.

Inside is where Infiniti could stand to do some work. While the outside of the Q50 Sport was handsome, its innards seemed dated. Seats and most of the interior trim look like something I could have found in a new car 10 years ago.

Thankfully, it’s not all old-school design inside. The center stack features Infiniti’s twin-screen infotainment setup. That was cool-looking and was nice to use, though I would have wished for Android Auto connectivity.

Drive Notes

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Drivetrain
- image 776643
Frankly, the twin-turbo V6 engine is a jewel, and it’s barely more thirsty than the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine

Driving the Infiniti Q50 S is an exercise in surprise. I did not expect it to be as lively as it was.

The engine and transmission share a lot of the credit for that. Under the hood is Infiniti’s 3.0-liter twin turbo V6 making 300 horsepower at 6,400 RPM and 295 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 to 5,200 RPM. That drives the rear wheels through an electronically controlled seven-speed automatic transmission that adapts to the driver’s behavior.

I liked that the car had so much power on-tap when I wanted it, but maintained its smooth responsiveness at all times. In day-to-day driving, the Q50 Sport was a real pleasure. Slogging through town traffic was easy-going, with the transmission reading the situation perfectly. I could perfectly modulate the throttle for a slow crawl in drive-thru lines or when taking off from a crowded intersection. It was enough to fool the uninitiated into thinking the Q50 Sport is slow.

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Exterior
- image 776580
At about 12.6 lbs per horsepower, the Q50 S is no slouch when you want to get to extra-legal speeds in a hurry.

A heavy right foot on the throttle will erase that impression, as the twin turbos put the 3.0-liter V6 on its wide torque peak early in the rev range. The accumulation of speed is impressive for an engine with “only” 300 horsepower. At about 12.6 lbs per horsepower, the Q50 S is no slouch when you want to get to extra-legal speeds in a hurry.

Frankly, the twin-turbo V6 engine is a jewel, and it’s barely more thirsty than the standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. EPA rates the engine at 20 MPG city, 29 MPG highway, 23 MPG combined in rear-wheel drive form. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder rear-wheel drive model is rated at 23/30/25 even though it’s 92 horsepower down on the V6. That’s a loss of efficiency I’m willing to take.

Q50’s seven-speed automatic transmission deserves applause. Infiniti included Adaptive Shift Control that has a lateral acceleration sensor that will know when you’re driving uphill, or when you’re carrying some speed into a turn. It’s not a totally new idea, but Infiniti’s execution is brilliant. While I’d prefer to shift for myself, this is a very good automatic transmission.

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Exterior
- image 776619
There’s a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear independent suspension that does a sound job of soaking up bumps while remaining well-controlled in sporty driving on curvy roads

Infiniti did great work on the chassis tuning of the Q50S, too. There’s a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear independent suspension that does a sound job of soaking up bumps while remaining well-controlled in sporty driving on curvy roads. My tester had the $1,500 Performance Package that included Infiniti’s Dynamic Digital Suspension. That provides what Infiniti describes as an “optimal blend of ride comfort, response, and agility.” I find it hard to disagree with those words.

Also included as part of the Performance Package were sport brakes, which did a great job slowing the Q50’s roll when needed, and steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which were fun to play with but ultimately not necessary since the transmission was near-telepathic.

Infiniti’s Rack Electronic Power Steering is standard on all Q50s with the 3.0t. It makes the steering resistance higher as the car’s yaw rate increases — which feels a lot more natural than many electronically assisted power steering systems. In addition, Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering system transmits the driver’s inputs to the front wheels faster than a mechanical system could, Infiniti says. The driver can fine-tune the steering feel by way of the Drive Mode Selector in the center console, which will tighten steering up a bit in Sport and Sport+ modes.

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Interior
- image 776644
The seats proved super-comfortable, and there was enough rear-seat room to haul my two sons comfortably

Even though I criticized the interior of the Q50 for looking a bit dated, the seats proved super-comfortable, and there was enough rear-seat room to haul my two sons comfortably. The trunk had 13.2 cubic feet of cargo space, which is about par for the segment and plenty for hauling groceries or a few bags for a vacation getaway.

Finally, the Q50 Sport has a sleek coefficient of drag of 0.28, which helped it slice through the air smoothly. Some road noise made it into the cabin, but not enough to be annoying.

Competitors

2018 Lexus GS 350 F-SPORT

Why is Lexus Charging $1,400 for Heated Seats on a $47k Car? Exterior
- image 755929

In this segment, Lexus has the GS 350 F-SPORT as the mid-level sporty variant of its middle sedan. There’s a lot to like about it — if you can get past its polarizing exterior.

For starters, the 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6 engine in the GS 350 is a great engine. Smooth and muscular, it packs 311 horsepower — 11 more than my Infiniti Q50 Sport, despite the Q50 making use of twin turbos. However, the Lexus mill is down on torque to the Infiniti, 280 ft-lbs to 295. Those turbos provide a wide, flat torque peak that makes the Infiniti V6 feel stronger than the Lexus. The Q50 Sport pulls like a freight train.

Driving either car is going to be a pleasure for the senses. Lexus’ F-SPORT tuning touches add just a little more sharpness to an already excellent chassis, just as Infiniti’s Sport model does for the Q50. Seating is excellent in both.

Both have their challenges where infotainment is concerned. Lexus goes with a single widescreen in the dash — somewhat easier to understand than the twin-screen Infiniti setup — but has Remote Touch that infuriates some drivers. Infiniti’s interface feels a little dated and is definitely less ergonomic, even though the twin screens wow users on first impression.

I prefer the Infiniti because I like its V6 better and its solid value. Infiniti dealers are more willing to discount than Lexus dealers. Your preferences may vary.

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus GS 350 F-SPORT

2018 Mercedes-Benz C Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Exterior Interior
- image 769397

Let’s have a look at the Mercedes-Benz C Class.

Infiniti holds a huge value advantage if you’re concerned about how much car you’re getting for the dollar, as you can get my Q50 Sport test car ($50,410) for about the same price as a moderately equipped C300 sedan. The Infiniti Q50 is technically classed as a midsize car, while the Mercedes-Benz C300 is classed as a compact car — though both have similar measurements on the outside.

The C300’s Sport package gives buyers a couple of distinct performance advantages: Bigger brakes, for one, and better fuel economy. M-B’s 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine is less thirsty than the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 in the Q50. But the Q50’s 300-horsepower engine is a lot more powerful than the Merc’s 241-horse four-cylinder. Mercedes closes some of the power gap by ratcheting up the torque of the four-banger to 273 ft-lbs, falling just short of Infiniti’s 295 ft-lbs. The German delivers its peak torque 300 RPM lower in the rev range, giving it a strong feel in low- to mid-rpm acceleration.

If you’re not hung up on the superior horsepower figure or the slightly larger interior space of the Q50, the C300 may very well offer a better all-around package.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C Class.

Acura TLX

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
- image 717283

Acura TLX may be a front-wheel drive sedan, but in a lot of ways, it’s one of the closest competitors to Infiniti Q50.

Both are midsize cars, but the Infiniti has a slight advantage on cabin space. The Acura has a slightly larger trunk, however, and a better thought-out infotainment system.

The most direct comparison to my Infiniti Q50 Sport probably is the Acura TLX FWD V6 A-SPEC. The Acura carries a higher price by about $2,000. And for that extra money, the performance specs just aren’t quite on-par with the Infiniti Q50 Sport. Acura’s naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6 puts down 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, with the torque figure being the largest shortcoming. Without turbocharging, the Acura V6 doesn’t reach that torque peak until 4,500 RPM — and even then, it’s still 28 lb-ft shy of the Infiniti Q50 Sport, whose torque peak comes online at a low 1,600 RPM.

Plus, the Acura has a wider turning circle, which will make it feel slower to turn in when cranked into a curve. And of course, the elephant in the room is the TLX’s front-wheel drive layout, which will struggle to feel as nice as Q50’s rear-wheel drive layout in spirited driving. Acura’s SH-AWD system will go a long way to erase that gap, but Infiniti offers a pretty great all-wheel drive system on the Q50 3.0t Sport for about $3,000 less than you’ll spend to get all-wheel drive on the TLX V6 A-SPEC.

Again, in a performance-per-dollar comparison, Infiniti is particularly strong.

Read our full review on the 2018 Acura TLX.

Conclusion

2018 Infiniti Q50 Sport - Driven Exterior
- image 776581

Infiniti Q50 is a beautiful car with a beautiful attention to powertrain and handling details. It doesn’t have quite the same feel as rivals from Europe, especially where luxury and technology are concerned. But it’s a solid competitor for those who like fundamentally sound powertrain and chassis performance in their luxury sedan at a very competitive price.

Disclosure: Infiniti provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of fuel for this review.

References

2018 Infiniti Q50 High Resolution Exterior
- image 708066

Read our full review on the 2018 Infiniti Q50.

no article
- image 745436

Read more Infiniti news.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: