The impressive Q50 S Hybrid confounds everything you thought you knew about the Infiniti brand.
By Ghaith Madadha
The Q50, the first Infiniti bearing the brand’s new Q-based alphanumeric nomenclature, is the dramatic high tech successor to the sometimes unfairly overlooked G Sedan compact executive saloon. The range-topping Q50 S Hybrid is an innovative car that was first to market with steer-by-wire technology. Its electric motor supplements its 3.5-liter V6 combustion engine for both enhanced efficiency and performance.
With its swooping and athletic aesthetics, the Q50 communicates an acute sense of dramatic urgency. It has a predatory presence, with squinting headlights, gaping honeycomb grille, low bumper-chin spoiler, integrated rear spoiler, and aggressive alloy wheels. The Q50’s complex sharp creases, jutting ridges, gaping intakes, and side ports are well-integrated with wavy flowing lines and classically sporty front-mid engine and rear-drive proportions.
The Q50 S Hybrid’s familiar 3.5-liter petrol engine develops 302 BHP at 6800 rpm and 258 lb/ft at 5000 rpm, while its electric motor develops 67 BHP at 1650-2000 rpm and 214 lb/ft torque at 1650 rpm. Able to drive for short light throttle distances exclusively on electric power of up to 80 km/h, the hybrid driveline is set up for efficiency in Eco drive mode, and returns 7.8l100 km combined consumption. In Sport mode the electric motor acts like an electric supercharger to boost performance.
The electric motor, positioned between front-mounted engine and slick, quick-shifting 7-speed automatic gearbox, complements the sporty high-revving petrol engine with muscular low-end torque and responsiveness, and consistent urge from tick-over to 7500 rpm rev limit. The Q50’s hybrid driveline seamlessly transitions between motors and drive combinations, and precisely and responsively cuts power on throttle lift-off, unlike lesser systems’ delayed surges.
First with steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) technology, Q50 uses sensors and computers to relay and process steering inputs to two small electric motors that steer the front wheels. DAS reduces fuel consumption and delivers exceptional steering refinement and precision with no need for mechanically linked steering.
Offered with preselected ratio speeds and assistance weighting, DAS theoretically offers endless combinations, but is best and most direct in its chunkily weighty and quick 2.1-turn lock-to-lock sport modes, where Infiniti got the parameters right. The Q50S Hybrid weaved through tight slaloms with small measured inputs, and is tidy on turn-in, precise and responsive to inputs during track and road driving. Meanwhile, in comfort settings it provided unrivaled refinement over dirt roads, gravel, and lawns.
The Q50 S Hybrid, which is lower, firmer, and sportier, hides well its added weight over non-hybrid versions. Its under-boot battery pack’s weight presses the wheels into the ground, with additional lateral weight transfer barely noticeable. It is planted, poised, and grippy through fast sweeping corners. Stable at speed, it benefits from low aerodynamic drag and zero lift, and is settled and taut on rebound.
Well-refined from noise and vibration, the Q50S Hybrid is firm but smoothly comfortable. Its cabin features a highly adjustable and alert driving position, and clear instrumentation. Two stacked infotainment screens are versatile, while quality materials include supple textures, leather, woods, and metals. Optional advanced driver-assistance systems include distance control, lane departure and blind spot warning and prevention, predictive collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and around-view cameras.
Engine: petrol/electric hybrid, 3.5-liter, V6-cylinders
Gearbox: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
(Petrol, BHP (PS) [kW]: 302 (306)  @6800 rpm)
(Electric, BHP (PS) [kW]: 67 (68)  @1650-2000 rpm)
Torque, combined, lb/ft (Nm): 402 (546)
(Petrol, lb/ft (Nm): 258 (350) @5000 rpm)
(Electric, lb/ft (Nm): 214 (290) @1650 rpm)
0-100 km/h: 5.1-seconds (est.)
Fuel consumption, 7.8 liters/100 km
Fuel capacity: 70 liters
Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs, 355 mm / 350 mm