By Patrick James on 2015-02-13 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Infiniti Q50 2.0t
INFINITI has big plans for expansion in Europe. Over the next five years, it will increase its model range by 60 per cent and more than double the number of its powertrains.
Who? I hear you say. Well the luxury arm of Nissan is a bit of a slow burner in this country, but the name will be familiar to those who watch Formula 1 as it has been plastered all over the Red Bull cars for a few years now.
It is a relative newcomer, launching back in 2008 with designer showrooms and a top customer service pledge.
It also offers a couple of neat innovations with its self-repairing scratch shield paintwork and Direct Adaptive Steering, a steer by wire system which automatically adjust steering settings to prevailing road conditions.
Their Q50 model is a mid-range executive/luxurycar designed to take on the German market leaders and the likes of Jaguar.
It is Infiniti's best looking model to date, with smooth line and curves, together with attractive light clusters to front and rear.
And the latest engine, a two-litre supercharged unit is a bit of a surprise package, joining a 2.2-litre diesel and hybrid powertrains.
Surprising because you would think a two litre turbocharged petrol engine, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission would drink the fuel.
On the contrary, it proved frugal indeed and a claimed 44-odd mpg did not seem that ambitious a figure, with my guesstimate around the late 30s mpg. In fact the car used just about half a tank during a week of varied driving in differing conditions.
However, compared to the diesel and hybrid, the CO2 emissions of 151g/km will not make it that attractive to the business sector.
Frugal, but still with excellent performance. For a largish saloon, the sprint from 0-60mph is an impressive 7.2 seconds. The drive settings can also be selected with standard, snow and sport available.
The snow setting did not seem to make much of a difference to this rear-wheel drive vehicle in wintryy conditions but the sport setting really sharpened up steering and suspension settings for a more enjoyable drive.
So the petrol engine is an option for the buyer selecting Premium or Sport trim who will pick up a high-spec, high quality car which is a match for the best in terms of quality and with a competitive price.
The interior is the best yet from the Japanese firm with multi-function steering wheel, leather upholstery, high quality soft touch plastics and chrome and aluminium trim throughout. The central console is dominated by a seven-inch screen from which the major functions like infotainment, navigation and connectivity can be controlled via a dial between driver and front seat passenger.
Other functions are controlled from the console. The leather seats are comfortable, heated and electrically multi-adjustable and other standard kit included on both trims is impressive, with the Sport model including powered windows and door mirrors, dual zone climate control, alloy wheels, rear view camera and follow-me home lighting system. The Sport also features aluminium front door sill finishers, pedals and footrests.
It is a fairly practical car with decent head and legroom which makes comfortable seating for four, but less so for five in the middle rear seats. The rear seat has a ski hatch with access from the generous 500-litre boot.
The engine is smooth and refined with little noise intrusion from the power unit, road or wind noise.
Handling, particularly in sport mode is sharp, if the ride is a little firm.
The diesel will probably be a more attractive option, but for petrolheads, this is a smooth, refined and very different option to the market leaders.
Infiniti Q50 2.0t Sport
Mechanical: 208bhp, 1,991cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 152mph
0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 43.5
Insurance Group: 40
C02 emissions: 151g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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