Infiniti Q50 2.2D

Premium

Infinti Q50, instruments
Infinti Q50, interior
Infiniti Q50, front
Infiniti Q50, interior
Infiniti Q50, boot
Infiniti Q50, side
Infiniti Q50, front
Infiniti Q50 rear
Infiniti Q50, side

INFINITI has been selling cars in the UK since 2008 but it has so far remained a very niche brand.

Parent company Nissan hopes that the new Q50 saloon will help change this and woo customers from their Audis, BMWs and Mercedes alternatives.

Sponsorship of Formula One's Red Bull Racing and the involvement of F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel has always brought welcome attention to the marque.

The Q50 is the replacement for the G37, a petrol-only model that, perhaps because of its American styling, never really caught on this side of the Pond

The Q50 is a completely different animal for Nissan's luxury brand (Infiniti is to Nissan what Lexus is to Toyota) and is available not only as a Lexus-rivalling hybrid with a V6 petrol/electric drivetrain but also, as driven here, with a 2.2-litre diesel engine sourced from Mercedes-Benz.

It emits 124g/km of CO2 and is claimed to average 58.9mpg although in a week of real-world driving - a mix of motorway, A-road and urban jungle - it returned a more modest 40.3mpg.

The macho looking saloon lines up against three of Germany's best - the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, and Mercedes' C-Class - with other rivals from Lexus, Volvo and Jaguar on the sidelines.

With its more European styling I am sure the macho looking saloon will do a lot better than the G37 by appealing more to business user choosers but Infiniti is still going to have its work cut out to dent sales in the premium large car market.

Its bold design will certainly divide opinion but it certainly brings a breath of fresh air into an otherwise staid sector. It may be offering novelties in design and technology but it also gets all the basics right in terms of size, space, quality, fuel consumption, performance and CO2 emissions.

Performance and economy were never going to be a problem because it uses the tried and tested engine and automatic gearbox from the Mercedes Benz C220 CDI.

It is a bit noisy at times and the seven-speed gearbox, ultra smooth in automatic, is a bit slow in obeying commands when you shift the lever into manual mode. However, it is fairly economical and Mercedes' success with it proves it's good enough for most buyers.

The suspension works well. The ride is nicely supple and quiet so the car is able to absorb even fairly deep holes in the road without being unduly disturbed.

The steering works well with the car's lane assist system, part of the optional Safety Shield pack which costs just over £2,000, to help the driver keep it in the correct lane if he begins to wander.

The Q50 does not have the driver involvement of an Audi or BMW which makes driving them so much fun but it is still very well behaved. It turns into corners crisply and feels reassuringly stable when it is pushed fast through bends.

Space is very generous up front while the longest wheelbase in its class means there is also plenty of legroom in the back. Taller than average passengers might bump their heads in the back, though.

The seats seemed a bit too soft for me at first but I soon got used to them and overall they support their occupants well. The seating was designed using data from NASA's zero-gravity space programme. The spine adopts a particular position when astronauts are at rest and this is reflected in the shaping of the Q50s seats (heated at the front).

Infiniti has also gone very high-tech with an onboard Internet system, its two big touch-screens inhabited with an array of apps. These cover analysis of your driving style, reviews of destinations, social media by voice command, streaming radio and more. Plus there are dozens of multi-configurable set-ups for the car itself.

Fortunately the screens are flanked by regular knobs and buttons which control basic climate and stereo settings, so if you don't fancy exploring the menus on offer you can still do things the old-fashioned way.

As you would expect the Q50 has a full complement of standard kit  including a stop/start system, tyre pressure monitoring, hill start assist, Bluetooth, rear view camera, six speaker sound system, six airbags, speed limiter, cruise control, air-con, and leather upholstery.

The Q50 in Premium trim costs £31,900 but options, including 18-inch alloys, electric sunroof, LED headlights with daytime running lights, uprated 14-speaker sound system, cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and forward collision warning, pushed the price up by almost £10,000 to £41,850.

FAST FACTS

Infiniti Q50 2.2D Premium

Price: £41,580

Mechanical: 168bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 143mph

0-62mph: 8.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 58.9

Insurance Group: 40

C02 emissions: 124g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles

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