Infiniti started production of its refreshed 2018 Q50 sport-luxury sedan at the premium brand’s Tochigi, Japan facility on June 1, the announcement promising a Canadian market arrival time of late summer.…

Renewed 2018 Infiniti Q50 set for late summer availability

2018 Infiniti Q50
New 2018 Q50s are already rolling of the line at Infiniti’s Tochigi, Japan assembly plant. (Photo: Infiniti)

Infiniti started production of its refreshed 2018 Q50 sport-luxury sedan at the premium brand’s Tochigi, Japan facility on June 1, the announcement promising a Canadian market arrival time of late summer.

“We can’t wait to bring the updated, 2018 Q50 to the North American market,” said Randy Parker, Vice President, Infiniti Americas, in a press release that accompanied the production announcement. “Its benchmark performance and athletic styling make it an important cornerstone in our product line. We are excited to get this newest sports sedan in the hands of our fans when it arrives in Infiniti showrooms later this summer.”

Later this summer? Isn’t that right about now? With back to school supplies already lining store shelves it certainly seems like summer is winding up, but technically Infiniti has until Friday, September 22 at the very latest to produce the mid-cycle made-over model.

2018 Infiniti Q50
Infiniti’s Tochigi plant is known for its quality. (Photo: Infiniti)

Pent-up anticipation is reasonable, being that the current Q50 has been on the road since 2013 for the 2014 model year. Four years is hardly long-lived for a premium model, not even coming close to the brand’s QX50, which when completely replaced this fall will have been soldiering along with only minor updates since it arrived as the EX35 in 2007 (that’s 10 years for those not willing to do the math), but don’t get too excited about the renewed 2018 Q50 sedan as the changes made won’t be near as dramatic.

Most will agree the current model is already an attractive design, which is reason enough for its relatively strong sales. I say relatively strong because the Q50 is Infiniti’s second-best selling model next to the mid-size seven-passenger QX60 SUV, and also because it’s neck-and-neck with Lexus’ IS for second-best selling bragging rights amongst non-German D-segment sedans, Acura’s TLX having long held best-of-the-rest status behind BMW’s 3 Series, Mercedes’ C-Class, and Audi’s A4. On the positive, the three Japanese brands regularly sweep the floor with Cadillac’s ATS and Volvo’s S60, while Jaguar’s new XE and Alfa Romeo’s equally fresh Giulia are just trying to get noticed within the compact luxury car hierarchy.

2018 Infiniti Q50
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 will come in four distinct flavours, with two built for sport and the others more luxury-oriented. (Photo: Infiniti)

Without the need to totally recreate the Q50’s styling, or for that matter the entire brand’s Essence Concept-inspired design direction, a hybrid sports coupe prototype that was first revealed at the 2009 Geneva auto show as part of the Japanese luxury brand’s 20th anniversary, which by Infiniti’s seven-percent year-over-year gain in global sales numbers appears to be working very well, the design team was freed to mildly tweak details. The changes include a slightly reworked version of the brand’s trademark double-arch grille that now offers more texture to its wavy mesh-patterned insert, whereas more muscular character lines follow the upper outside corners of that grille across each side of the hood. These enhancements were joined by revised headlamps, featuring more eye-like illumination, and redesigned LED taillights at the polar end. While all these updates help modernize the Q50’s look, the new model’s most noticeable changes were saved for its lower front fascia, which now more clearly depicts the trim line, or rather “grade structure” being shown.

2018 Infiniti Q50
The 2018 Q50’s two luxury trims are called Pure and Luxe. (Photo: Infiniti)

For the 2018 model year the Q50 will be available in Pure, Luxe, Sport and Red Sport 400 trims. The latter two “grades” will be familiar to those who follow Infiniti’s products, although Pure and Luxe are trims not yet used by Infiniti (Daimler’s Smart brand was first to use “Pure” for its most basic ForTwo city car). Let’s be first to congratulate Infiniti for not including Limited or Platinum in their naming scheme, two of the most overused trim levels in the industry (the derivative “Premium” hopefully on the way off the Q50 options menu too), after which we should give them the nod of approval for more visually separating each trim line to benefit those paying more to move up into a higher-end model.

“With the new Q50 we are introducing new model grades, each offering their own look and character,” said Francois Bancon, Vice President, Global Product Strategy, Infiniti, a press release that accompanied the launch of the new model in March. “Red Sport 400 in particular lets drivers express themselves with a more assertive design that clearly conveys the car’s performance potential.”

2018 Infiniti Q50
Sport and Red Sport 400 trims continue forward into 2018, but get much more dramatic bodywork. (Photo: Infiniti)

To this end, Sport grade offers “performance-focused” exterior styling, while yet sportier visual upgrades join the model’s most potent 400-horsepower engine in Red Sport 400 trim. Items specific to the two top-line grades include a more sharply creased front bumper and wider, lower air intakes, the corner vents edged in glossy black, while the rear bumper gets a bolder black diffuser embedded at centre, with a stainless steel exhaust tip at each corner. The Red Sport 400 takes things up a notch with some glossy dark paint and body-colour two-tone detailing within the latter, while the side mirror caps also get a gloss black treatment, plus a unique set of 19-inch alloys to finish off the look.

Inside, Infiniti promises higher-grade “authentic” materials and more detailed stitching, “further elevating the level of craftsmanship” in every Q50, noted Infiniti in their press release.

“The cabin of the Q50 has been created with human artistry in mind, enabling occupants to travel in style and comfort,” said Alfonso Albaisa, Executive Design Director, Infiniti. “The refreshed Q50 takes this artistry to a new level, with hand-worked materials giving a greater sense of craftsmanship than ever before.”

2018 Infiniti Q50
The top-line Red Sport 400 gets the most exciting aero and wheel designs. (Photo: Infiniti)

For instance Infiniti now uses double-stitched padded leatherette on the instrument panel, while luxury-oriented models with hardwood inlays incorporate a more naturally genuine look and feel than the usual old-school high-gloss affect.

Sport models feature unique interiors with patterned aluminum inlays, matte dark-chromed accents, plus black cloth roof pillars and headliner, whereas the Red Sport 400’s cabin is appropriately highlighted with contrasting red thread, while Infiniti is promising a new sport steering wheel that’s better formed for performance driving, with easier access to the shift paddles in behind. The new leather-wrapped shift knob was ergonomically designed as well, enhanced with double-stitched seams, new chrome trim, and an Infiniti logo on top.

Of course, Infiniti couldn’t hold back with the red stitching effect throughout the rest of the Red Sport 400’s cabin, but at least they didn’t go so far as to brighten up each and every diamond-quilted crevice of its Bentley-esque seats’ side inserts, the result looking rich yet nicely restrained. At least as importantly those seats include a more comfortable design that Infiniti dubs “spinal support,” which we certainly look forward to testing out. Lastly, the new Red Sport 400 gets special dark chromed primary instrument dials, although those fully infused into the digital age might feel the analogue gauges are a bit of a throwback when others in the class are offering fully configurable colour TFT instruments in their top-tier models.

2018 Infiniti Q50
The Red Sport 400 includes a two-tone black and body-colour rear diffuser. (Photo: Infiniti)

Despite the classic dual-dial gauge cluster, Infiniti might just pull some buyers over from its German competitors when it comes to centre stack infotainment because it chooses to use more convenient, tablet-style touchscreen interfaces instead of lower console-controlled dial, button and touchpad designs. What’s more, both vertically stacked Q50 displays are now touch-capacitive, the top one eight inches in diameter and the lower one seven. This allows the use of multiple functions simultaneously, such as the top screen for navigation mapping and the bottom one for audio control. Infiniti’s appropriately named InTouch infotainment system also lets driver and front passenger customize the car’s inner environment by storing detailed personal information for multiple drivers, such as memory seating and mirror positions, identifiable via individual proximity-sensing I-keys.

Also new for 2018, the Q50 boasts an available 16-speaker Bose “Performance Series” audio system with advanced staging signal processing capable of “a precise, rich and nuanced acoustic experience,” says Infiniti, plus CenterPoint 2.0 surround-sound.

2018 Infiniti Q50
The Red Sport 400’s interior gets red stitching and diamond-quilting, while all Q50’s utilize improved materials. (Photo: Infiniti)

Possibly the biggest 2018 Q50 news is its suite of ProPILOT advanced driver-assistance systems, which include Active Lane Control (camera-sighted autonomous driving capability above 72 km/h or 45 mph), Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Backup Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention, Forward Emergency Braking, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, and last but hardly least, Infiniti’s exclusive Direct Adaptive Steering.

“Infiniti has introduced a number of world-first innovations through the Q50 in recent years,” said Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti. “As Infiniti’s best-selling model [worldwide], the Q50 has always embodied our commitment to make driver-empowering technologies accessible to a large number of customers. The new model will let customers benefit from the latest advances in active safety with our driver support technologies.”

2018 Infiniti Q50
The redesigned steering wheel in Sport models get better paddle shifters. (Photo: Infiniti)

This is Infiniti’s second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering introduced in 2016 (the first version was launched in 2013), both of which are steer-by-wire systems that mostly do away with mechanically linked parts, and have been fairly well received by owners and auto pundits alike. Infiniti considers its Direct Adaptive Steering a “building block on the way to achieving fully-autonomous driving,” and for certain it’s a bit of tomorrow’s technology today. Along with reasonably realistic feel and ultra-quick responsiveness, Direct Adaptive Steering makes it easier to add unique driving modes for comfort or sport applications, the Q50’s Drive Mode Selector letting its driver modulate steering, suspension and drivetrain settings that include Personal, Standard (default), Snow, Eco, Sport and Sport+ modes. Those rightly concerned about no longer having a steering column connected to the turning wheels can take some confidence in knowing Infiniti has logged more than a million kilometres (625,000 miles) of tests on the second-gen Direct Adaptive Steering system alone.

2018 Infiniti Q50
Now both Q50 infotainment displays are touch-capacitive. (Photo: Infiniti)

Powertrains are all carryover, although this shouldn’t be a surprise as they were all just updated for the 2016 model year. Included is the base 2.0t, a Mercedes-sourced 208 horsepower 2.0-litre four-cylinder featuring 258 lb-ft of torque that gets mated to a seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, the latter two components also standard with the other two conventional engine choices.

The performance-oriented 3.0t models include two different versions of Infiniti’s exclusive new in-house VR family of 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6s, which just like the old VQ V6 is once again a 2017 Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner. The less formidable powerplant is good for 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, while as noted earlier the top-line Red Sport 400’s version manages to push out 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.

Lastly, Infiniti will continue forward with its high-energy Direct Response Hybrid powertrain consisting of its old 3.5-litre V6, 50-kW electric motor, and compact laminated lithium-ion battery. The combination makes a net 360 horsepower due to the internal combustion engine’s 302 horsepower and electric motor’s 67 horsepower (hybrid net output never adds up exactly), plus a non-advertised sum of torque, although the ICE’s 258 lb-ft and electric motor’s 213 lb-ft makes for a potent mixture, the latter available immediately at input.

2018 Infiniti Q50
All four 2018 Q50 powertrains are carryover, but with an efficient 4-cylinder, two turbo V6s making 300- and 400-hp apiece, plus a 360-hp hybrid, no one should complain. (Photo: Infiniti)

Last year’s Q50 Hybrid was good for a claimed 9.1 L/100km in the city and 7.7 on the highway, which made it quite thrifty considering the performance on tap, while the 2017 Q50 2.0t was estimated to get 10.7 L/100km city and 8.4 highway, thanks partially to fuel-saving stop/start technology. Additionally, the mid-range 3.0t achieved a rating of 12.6 city and 8.8 highway, while the top-tier Red Sport 400 earned an estimated 12.3 city and 9.2 highway, the latter strangely better in the city than the less capable engine. We’ll have to wait to see if the new 2018 model’s Transport Canada ratings do as well or possibly surpass the outgoing estimates, being that the reshaped body shell’s overall aerodynamics and its numerous unique design details are capable of literally causing turmoil with fuel economy figures.

Of note, Q50s fitted with the larger engine will get Infiniti’s “Rack Electronic Power Steering” as standard, which can also be modulated via the Drive Mode Selector, while 2.0-litre Q50 models are equipped with more conventional vehicle speed-sensitive hydraulic electronic rack-and-pinion power steering.

It’s quite likely the renewed Q50 will have what it takes to boost sales beyond the Lexus IS in Canada, the difference coming down to just 65 models at the end of 2016, although 2017 Q50 sales that were purposely slowed so as not to leave dealers with unsold inventory might mean we’ll have to wait until the 2018 calendar year to find out. Stay tuned…

The new Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 harks back to an era when personal luxury coupes were elegantly beautiful and more than adequately powered, this particular model tastefully understated yet motivated…

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 Road Test

The original G35 Coupe goes down as one of my all-time favourite two-door hardtops, not only because it was and still is a particularly beautiful car, especially from its rear three-quarter angle, but it was wonderfully quick and fabulous fun through the corners too. This said, next to the entirely new Q60 Red Sport 400 the now classic G35 looks respectfully sedate, and its performance, while always a thoroughly engaging handler, is some 120 horsepower shy.

I know it's unfair to put a 14-year old classic up against a completely new car, but there's a reason I choose to. The light and lively nature of the original was somewhat dampened by the considerably more potent and dynamically superior second-generation G37 Coupe, which morphed into the Q60 as part of Infiniti's brand-wide renaming scheme in the summer of 2013. Yet despite its performance gains and much-improved interior design, fit, finish, materials quality and features set, it never captured my heart as persuasively as Read Full Story
We drove the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t AWD Coupe last fall, and while a wonderfully quick, impressively refined and beautifully sculpted two-door hardtop it was nowhere near the car this Q60 Red Sport 400…

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
The gorgeous 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 turns heads wherever it goes. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
We drove the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t AWD Coupe last fall, and while a wonderfully quick, impressively refined and beautifully sculpted two-door hardtop it was nowhere near the car this Q60 Red Sport 400 is. The Red Sport 400 is a BMW M4 for those who prefer subtler styling and less aggressive dynamics. It’s plenty quick with 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque driving both axles, and its seven-speed automatic rows through the gears fast enough for all but adrenaline addicted track stars, and while it’ll carve up a canyon as well as most super coupes it does so without punishing occupants from a harsh ride.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
Aggressive yes, but totally classy too. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The $60,990 model is one of three Q60 Coupe trims, the base car sporting a Mercedes-sourced 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder with 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and the 3.0t we tested previously equipped with Infiniti’s new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 capable of 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. No matter the powertrain every new Q60 drives all four wheels through a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic with rev-matched downshifts, the Red Sport 400 also receiving paddle shifters for greater control during performance driving. The AWD system defaults to rear-drive when no wheel slippage occurs, or can send up to 50 percent of its torque frontward when required.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
Infiniti’s stylish Q60 cabin gets upgraded with carbon trim. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
If you’ve driven a Q50 Red Sport 400 (the four-door model that we reviewed last year) you’ll be familiar with this two-door version thanks to beautiful blue-hued glossy carbon inlays throughout, and plenty of high grade contrast-stitched leather on the instrument panel, lower console, door skins, and of course the seat upholstery, the latter of which are fabulously contoured sport seats with plenty of adjustment, while the foot pedals are appropriately formed of metal.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
These sport seats are wonderfully comfortable and adequately supportive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
The brand’s dual-display infotainment system resides on the centre stack too, the top monitor controlled by a knurled metal rotating knob on the lower console and the bottom display a touchscreen. The electroluminescent primary gauges feature a colour multi-information display at centre too. We’ll go into detail about Infiniti’s digital displays as well as the Q60 Red Sport 400’s other features as part of a full road test review coming up soon, while also delving into its assortment of active safety gear that includes dynamic cruise control, lane keeping assist, and more, but most importantly we’ll give you a play-by-play account of this car’s extreme performance. Check these pages soon for an upcoming review…
Infiniti’s QX60 has long been one of our most recommended 7-occupant family haulers, and now that it gets a power upgrade and yet more features to complement last year’s styling and handling improvements…

2017 Infiniti QX60 AWD Technology Road Test

Infiniti gave its most popular QX60 a comprehensive refresh last year, so it's only reasonable to think this 2017 model would carry over completely unchanged. Not so fast. Rather than sit back and relax, Nissan's luxury brand has updated this seven-passenger mid-size luxury SUV's powertrain while also adding new features inside and out.

The large three-row crossover utility has boasted a 3.5-litre V6 engine since it debuted as the JX35 back in 2012, and very few customers or critics have complained about its strong performance, reasonable fuel economy, and silky smooth operation. In fact, Infiniti's VQ series engine (also used in Nissan products) is one of the most celebrated of its type, having made the Wards 10 Best Engines list eight years in a row; an award it garnered once again last year, with highlights being performance, refinement, quietness, and fuel-efficiency thanks to features like continuously variable valve timing and microfinished camshafts, and this even before Read Full Story
The saying “an oldie but a goodie” suits Infiniti’s QX70, as few SUVs have aged as well from a styling and driving perspective. Its new mesh grille insert helps, as does 2017s new Limited trim that…

2017 Infiniti QX70 Limited Road Test

Have you ever wondered why something can be the best thing since sliced bread one day and all of a sudden yesterday's has-been? The car industry is sometimes hard on modern-day classics, or rather new vehicles that haven't been updated in a while. Infiniti's QX70 falls into this category, but really it deserves much more attention than it gets.

When its predecessor and this second-generation model were created in 2002 and 2009 respectively, Infiniti followed all premium "rules" to a tee and then some, while most competitors took the cheaper, easier route of basing their luxury branded SUVs on mainstream mid-size family sedans. The original QX70 was formed on the back of the Q60 sports coupe's predecessor, which continues to share underpinnings with Nissan's 370Z sports car, and in essence became the industry's first sport utility coupe, much to BMW's disagreement.

On that note I'm a fan of this unusual class of SUV, and still lamenting the loss of Acura's quirky ZDX while Read Full Story