Nissan’s Leaf has a permanent place in history for being one of the first modern-day mass-production electric vehicles available anywhere, and arguably the first practical EV (sorry Mitsubishi), so it’s no wonder the compact hatchback quickly became the best-selling electric vehicle in the world.
Nissan investing half a billion into US EV manufacturing and technology operations
Therefore, Nissan is investing $500 million USD to partially transform its Canton, Mississippi assembly plant into an electric vehicle production facility, so that it will be capable of producing new Nissan and Infiniti EV models by 2025. This will include retraining and upskilling approximately 2,000 workers from the plant’s current 5,000 employee total, a process that will result in the Canton plant being Nissan’s centre for EV manufacturing and technology.
“Today’s announcement is the first of several new investments that will drive the EV revolution in the United States,” said Ashwani Gupta, chief operating officer for Nissan Motor Corporation, Ltd. “Nissan is making a strong investment in Canton’s future, bringing the latest technology, training and process to create a truly best-in-class EV manufacturing team.”
Nissan Ambition 2030 project responds to massive EV growth expectations
While it’s only part of a $13.5-billion overall investment in Nissan’s U.S. manufacturing operations to date, of which $4-billion was previously invested in the Canton facility alone, the company is betting on industry estimates that 40 percent of new vehicle purchases will be fully electric by 2030.
There are certain to be even more electrified models sold as hybrids and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles in the near future too, which is why the “Nissan Ambition 2030” project is targeting 23 electrified models within the Nissan and Infiniti brands globally by 2030, of which 15 will be fully electric.
Two new electric mid-size crossover SUVs are the likely candidates for Canton
The 19-year-old Canton assembly plant, which currently produces four Nissan models, including the Altima, Frontier, Titan and Titan XD, and has built almost five million vehicles since opening in 2003, will have two entirely new fully electric models in production by 2025.
The Leaf, which is currently built in Smyrna, Tennessee for U.S. consumption (and the Oppama Plant in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan for Asian markets, plus NMUK in Sunderland, UK for European buyers), won’t be transferring production to the revised Mississippi plant, so it’s likely the two new models will be the upcoming Nissan Ariya and something similar to the Infiniti QX Inspiration, both mid-size crossover SUVs that will target large segments of both mainstream volume-branded and premium markets.
Combining EV and truck production could result in future electrified Frontier
Electrified commercial vans are also a possibility, being that Nissan was selling its full-size NV Cargo and NV Passenger vans, plus its NV200 compact cargo van up until September of 2021, when they were discontinued as part of Nissan’s new Business Advantage plan. A fleet of new electric vans could revitalize this segment for the automaker, and simultaneously expand Nissan’s important fleet customer base for its “Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM)” driving technologies, a more advanced version of its ProPilot Assist system that’s already available in many Nissan and Infiniti retail models.
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Nissan and Infiniti
Infiniti could arguably be credited with creating the sporty crossover coupe sector way back in 2002 with the introduction of its mid-size FX35 and FX45. The performance-oriented V6- and V8-powered SUV,…
Infiniti could arguably be credited with creating the sporty crossover coupe sector way back in 2002 with the introduction of its mid-size FX35 and FX45. The performance-oriented V6- and V8-powered SUV, which would eventually receive the QX70 nameplate two years after the redesigned second-generation FX appeared in 2011, paved the way for a follow-up, so therefore the Japanese luxury brand will re-enter this surprisingly popular niche market segment with something altogether new based on its bestselling QX50 compact luxury SUV.
The appropriately named QX55 makes perfect sense for those who want something sportier than the more upright, family-oriented Q50, or for that matter one of the brand’s even more utilitarian mid-size or full-size SUVs, yet still need greater functionality than a Q50 sedan or Q60 sports coupe can provide. The idea is to combine coupe-like styling and SUV practicality into one, with the compromise being a bit less rear seat headroom and reduced cargo volume for a more aesthetically pleasing design.
The latter measurement drops 134 litres from QX50 to QX55, resulting in 761 litres in the new crossover coupe compared to 895 in the regular SUV. Of note, dedicated cargo space can be increased by sliding the rear seats forward, but versatility is lessened by only having 60/40-split rear seatbacks, compared to all rivals that feature the more convenient 40/20/40 configuration, so that long items, such as skis, can be placed down the middle.
Those rivals include some well-established contenders, like BMW’s X4 that was the compact SUV segment initiator way back in 2014, followed four years later by Mercedes-Benz’ GLC Coupe that arrived for 2018. Audi’s Q5 Sportback is new for 2021, and now Infiniti becomes the first non-German brand to drive down this charted, albeit less known road.
Some might include Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio, Jaguar’s F-Pace, Range Rover’s Velar, Porsche’s Macan or Tesla’s Model Y in this category due to their sleek shapes and strong performance, but they’re the only compact models offered by their respective brands and provide similar passenger and cargo capacities to more conventional segment rivals, so probably not. We’ll give them honourable mentions just the same, while Genesis’ upcoming GV70 will occupy similar compact luxury SUV territory for the same reasoning.
As far as styling goes, the new QX55 is arguably the best-looking crossover in Infiniti’s lineup, providing a big, bold interpretation of Infiniti’s double-arched grille up front, bookended by a standard set of slender LED headlights that the luxury brand says “mimic the human eye.” Each hover over a gloss-black fog lamp bezel that mimics the appearance of a brake cooling duct, while juxtaposing the grille’s classy character with a more aggressive attitude.
Following the QX55’s muscular flanks and arching roofline rearward, which flow into an abbreviated deck lid, the latter dubbed a “fresh interpretation of the FX silhouette” by Infiniti, results in a tidy back end highlighted by sharply penned “piano key” style taillights infused with 45 separate LEDs for a veritable light show at night. De rigueur matte black cladding trims off the SUV’s lower extremities from the front wheel arches rearward, although it sweeps upwards on the back bumper to outline a body-colour diffuser-style panel filled with a matching set of chromed rectangular tailpipes. It’s an eye-catching design that should find favour from those wanting something a bit more daring from a manufacturer known to be more reliable than its German peers.
Under the sculpted hood is the same variable-compression 2.0-litre turbo-four found in the QX50, in which it makes a generous 268 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT) with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, which while highly efficient and dependable, is never a performance enthusiast’s first pick, so therefore a future road test will be required in order to learn if improvements have been made since the QX50 was reviewed on these pages. All-wheel drive will be standard in Canada, with fuel economy most likely near the same as the QX50’s estimated rating of 10.8 L/100km in the city, 8.3 on the highway and 9.7 combined.
Similar to the powertrain, the QX55’s interior doesn’t deviate from its taller sibling, other than the top-line Sensory trimmed model’s lack of top-tier quilted leather upholstery. Appearing to be going for a sportier cabin design, an optional two-tone Monaco Red and Graphite black motif gets joined by yet more red on the centre stack and lower console, this really highlighting the unique form of this tech-filled cabin divider. The swath of bright colour is offset by dark grey, open-pore wood inlays on the dash and doors as well, these sections butting up against satin-finish aluminum trim that joins yet more nicely finished metal throughout the interior.
Infiniti’s InTouch eight- and seven-inch, upper and lower dual digital display design is once again front and centre, sharply contrasting the majority of premium players that house their screens on separate fixed tablet-like protrusions from the dash top. While more traditional, this option allows for touch capacitive use along with smartphone-style tap, swipe and pinch finger gestures, while separate controls can be found on the steering wheel. The QX55 will come standard with all the expected infotainment functions, including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE wi-fi connectivity for up to seven devices.
When the 2022 QX55 goes on sale in April, three trim models will be available. The first will be Luxe, which at $51,995 plus freight and fees will include standard all-wheel-drive, 20-inch alloy wheels, leatherette upholstery, dark aluminum interior trim, heatable front seats, a power glass sunroof, active noise cancellation, and plenty of advanced driver assistance systems such as predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection, automatic rear braking, blind spot warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and auto high beam assist.
Those wanting more tech can upgraded to $56,998 Essential ProAssist trim, which adds adaptive front LED lights, a 360-degree surround parking monitor with moving object detection, adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, blind spot intervention, and lane departure prevention, while other features include InTouch navigation, 16-speaker Bose audio, and leather upholstery.
As noted earlier, Sensory is the final pinnacle of QX55 trim hierarchy, which at $60,998 adds softer semi-aniline leather upholstery, the aforementioned open-pore maple wood inlays, tri-zone automatic climate control, ambient interior lighting, and a motion-activated liftgate, while this model’s technology systems are further enhanced with a head-up display, traffic sign recognition, full speed range and hold capabilities for the adaptive cruise control, ProPilot Assist semi-self-driving capability with steering assist, and lastly Infiniti’s exclusive drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system.
The new QX55 is certainly up against some serious competition, particularly because its Infiniti brand name doesn’t quite have the same cachet as Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Still, it offers similar levels of styling, luxury, technology and performance as its three competitors’ entry-level crossover coupes, while the new model’s value proposition should be attractive to those on more of a budget.
Additionally, be sure to check out our full 2022 Infiniti QX55 photo gallery above, plus enjoy the following video as well (showing the new QX55 speeding away from an original FX, which would easily be possible if only an FX35).
Introducing the All-New INFINITI QX55 (1:12):
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann
Photo credits: Infiniti
Although there has recently been talk about reopening our economy, for the most part we’re still in voluntary lockdown throughout most of Canada. While this is certainly better than the mandatory lockdown…
Although there has recently been talk about reopening our economy, for the most part we’re still in voluntary lockdown throughout most of Canada. While this is certainly better than the mandatory lockdown conditions many other parts of the world are enduring, it’s left the majority of Canadians looking for things to do in order to bide their time.
Enter Japanese luxury carmaker Infiniti, a brand well respected for building cars and SUVs with entertaining driving characteristics. Now, instead of supplying thrills on the road, it’s slicing and dicing up some very unique paper artwork in the spirit of origami.
This said, the only traditional origami-style paper folding is used for the rear section of the Q50 S sport-luxury sedan scale model, as well as the separate wheels and tires and tabs necessary for gluing everything together. Nevertheless, Infiniti’s Carigami model is definitely a fun way to pass the time.
Infiniti will soon follow up its Carigami Q50 S model with one for the long-discontinued first-generation FX crossover SUV, showing that the enthusiast heart of this performance-oriented brand is still beating at a high rate, while another fan favourite, the current full-size off-road capable QX80 SUV that’s based on the legendary Nissan Patrol (Armada in North American markets), will come next.
The models will all be in 1:27 scale, and all you’ll need to put one together is a printer (preferably colour, or you can add crayons to this list), seven sheets of paper (two for templates and five for instructions), a craft knife, some glue, and a little patience.
While a first for Infiniti, the luxury brand’s parent previously commissioned a full 1:1 scale origami version of the funky Nissan Juke subcompact crossover for its fifth birthday in 2015.
To learn more, watch a high-speed video of the model being constructed, and/or download the templates and instructions go to Infiniti.com, or you can go directly to the Carigami download page here, but keep in mind this is the brand’s US site and therefore any further investigation into real Infiniti models for purchase in Canada should be done at Infiniti.ca.
Better yet, go to CarCostCanada to check out the latest 2020 Infiniti Q50, Q60 and Q70 sport-luxury cars, plus Infiniti’s lineup of SUVs that include the QX50, QX60 and QX80. You can access all the same pricing information as the manufacturer’s website, and even build out each model, plus you’ll find out about all the latest manufacturer rebates, financing and lease rates, and dealer invoice pricing that can save you thousands when negotiating your deal.
For instance, CarCostCanada claims you can save up to $5,550 in additional incentives on a 2020 Infiniti Q50, while those wanting a 2019 Q50 can access factory leasing and financing rates from zero percent. Interested in a Q60 instead? How about $5,350 off of this luxury sport coupe for the 2020 model or $9,000 in incentives for a 2019? If you want a large sedan, Infiniti is offering up to $8,000 in additional incentives for its 2019 Q70 and long-wheelbase Q70L (there won’t be a 2020 for this flagship four-door).
As for Infiniti SUVs, those wanting the new QX50 compact crossover can save up to $5,250 for a 2019, $2,000 on a 2020, and zero-percent factory leasing or financing for the fresh new 2021 model, with average member savings said to be $3,250 no matter the year purchased. As for the mid-size three-row QX60, buyers wanting a 2020 can access up to $5,400 in additional incentives while the 2019 model has zero-percent factory leasing or financing on offer. Lastly, the big QX80 can be had with zero-percent leasing or financing on the 2021, up to $5,050 in additional incentives for the 2020 model, and $10,000 in incentives for the 2019.
Story credit: Trevor Hofmann
Photo and video credits: Infiniti
Few premium models mimic their mainstream volume branded donor platforms so closely as the QX60 does with the Nissan Pathfinder, and by that I’m not talking about exterior styling. Actually, Infiniti…
Few premium models mimic their mainstream volume branded donor platforms so closely as the QX60 does with the Nissan Pathfinder, and by that I’m not talking about exterior styling. Actually, Infiniti does a pretty good job of separating the two at birth. The QX60 gets Infiniti’s trademark grille and snake eyes-like LED headlamps up front, plus its squiggly rear quarter window design, and its thinner, narrower wrap-around LED tail lamps, whereas the Pathfinder certainly looks more traditional SUV-like since its 2017 refresh.
No, the most noticeable similarities are found inside, where the two SUVs are similar in design, layout, and general goodness. See how I did that? You probably thought I was going to say something negative, and while I’d like to see more differentiation between QX60 and Pathfinder cabins, they’re both very good at delivering what people want and need, the QX60 merely stepping things up when it comes to the quality and choice of materials, plus other refinements.
For instance, the QX60 dash top, instrument panel, glove box lid, lower console sides, and front door panels (from top to bottom) are made from high-quality soft-touch synthetics, whereas the Pathfinder leads its class for hard plastics, covering all of these areas except (strangely) for the front door panels that also get the pliable composite treatment all over. The QX60 takes these refinements into the back too, providing soft-touch rear door uppers, while hard shell plastic covers the Pathfinder’s inner doors. Infiniti even goes so far as to wrap all roof pillars in padded cloth, whereas Nissan doesn’t even cover the front pillars, like some close competitors do.
Of course, Infiniti adds some more obvious upgrades to the QX60 as well, such as real maple hardwood replacing the fake stuff, a higher grade of leather with intricate hourglass quilting on the seat inserts and contrasting piping around the edges, at least in my top line Sensory trimmed example, but the dated electronics are pretty well the same except for some digital branding, the primary gauge clusters identical except for Infiniti’s classic purple colouring inside the dials, plus the serrated metallic rims around their edges, this colour treatment carried over to the centre display as well, which incidentally is devoid of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, and while the buttons, knobs and switches that control these interfaces (and everything else) are mostly unique and nicer all-round, they’re laid out in more or less the same fashion.
Along with the rich hardwood and sumptuous leather upgrades, the $4,200 Sensory package adds three-way forced ventilation to the already heatable front seats, while the second-row outboard positions are now heated, and the third row gets a powered return to make loading cargo easier, while accessing the rear luggage area is more convenient thanks to a motion activated power liftgate. Back inside, everyone can enjoy the open airiness of a powered panoramic sunroof overhead, complete with powered sunshades, not to mention a 15-speaker surround-sound Bose audio system upgrade complete with 5.1-channel digital decoding, while they can also appreciate the Advanced Climate Control System (ACCS) that includes auto-recirculation, a plasmacluster air purifier and grape polyphenol filter. Last but not least, the Sensory package improves the QX60’s styling and handling with unique 15-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels on 235/55 all-season tires.
Prerequisites for the new Sensory package are the equally new $5,000 Essential and $4,800 ProActive packages, the first including remote engine start, entry/exit assist for the driver’s seat and steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, reverse tilt-down side mirrors, two-way power lumbar support for the driver’s seat, two-way driver’s memory with an Enhanced Intelligent Key, a 13-speaker Bose audio system, leather upholstery, Infiniti InTouch infotainment with navigation, lane guidance, and 3D building graphics, voice recognition, an Around View parking monitor with Moving Object Detection, front and rear parking sensors, SiriusXM Traffic, and more.
The ProActive package adds auto-dimming side mirrors, high beam assist, full-speed range adaptive cruise control, distance control assist, active trace control, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Blind Spot Intervention, backup collision intervention, front pre-crash seatbelts, and Infiniti’s exclusive Eco Pedal.
All of this highfalutin gear gets added to a QX60 that’s already well equipped in renamed base Pure form, and competitively priced at $48,695, thanks to features such as auto on/off LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, LED fog lamps, LED taillights, roof rails, power-folding side mirrors with integrated turn signals, proximity-sensing keyless access, pushbutton ignition, a heatable leather-wrapped steering wheel, a powered tilt and telescopic steering column, an eight-way power driver’s seat, a six-way power front passenger’s seat, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, a (regular sized) powered moonroof, micro-filtered tri-zone automatic climate control, an 8.0-inch centre touchscreen with a backup camera, SMS/email display, satellite radio, three USB charging ports, a powered rear liftgate, Predictive Forward Collision Warning (PFCW), Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection (PFEB), Blind Spot Warning (BSW), and more (see all 2019 and 2020 Infiniti QX60 pricing at CarCostCanada, with breakdowns of trims, packages and individual options, plus make sure to look for special manufacturer rebate info as well as dealer invoice prices that could save you thousands).
Some of these features are available with the Pathfinder, incidentally, so it’s not like top-tier trims of the Nissan-badged utility are even remotely spartan, but Infiniti does go further as it should. Where it doesn’t seem to need much differentiation to remain popular is in mechanicals, where the two SUVs utilize the same 3.5-litre V6 and continuously variable transmission incorporating authentic feeling stepped gear ratios. It’s one of the best CVTs on the market, and perfectly suited to these models’ comfort-first focus, although all-wheel drive is standard with the QX60, unlike the Pathfinder that offers more basic front-wheel drive trims as well.
At 295 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, the QX60’s direct-injection infused V6 also provides 11 more ponies and an identical 11 lb-ft of additional twist over the Pathfinder’s version of the engine, which makes for a bit more energy off the line and when passing on the highway, plus Infiniti massages the CVT with a manual mode in order to extract the most performance from those just-noted stepped gears, not to mention default (a best of all worlds compromise), Sport (that makes adjustments to the engine and transmission to enhance performance), Eco (that adjusts engine and transmission responses to improve fuel economy), and Snow (that controls engine output to reduce wheel spin) driving modes, whereas the Pathfinder pays respect to its more rugged styling by including an “i-4×4” selection on its rotating drive mode selector, this denoting Nissan’s Intelligent 4WD system lets you choose between 2WD, AUTO, and LOCK, the latter for getting out of deep snow, mud, sand, or other types of slippery situations. Nissan’s combination of drive settings is probably best off-road, not to mention its 7.0 inches of ground clearance versus 6.5, but Infiniti’s setup is automated more for slippery conditions and optimized further for pavement, which is where you’re more likely to be driving 99.9-percent of the time.
How do these differences affect fuel economy? The QX60 does very well with a claimed Transport Canada rating of 12.5 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 10.9 combined, whereas a fully loaded AWD-equipped Pathfinder is good for an estimated 12.4 city, 9.2 highway and 11.0 combined; more or less the same.
The QX60 also rides on an identical fully independent suspension made up of front struts and a multi-link design in the rear, plus stabilizer bars and coil springs at both ends, but sameness aside it feels more substantive than its lower-priced alternative. It probably comes down to some of the aforementioned soft-touch surfaces quelling noise, vibration, and harshness levels, not that the Pathfinder I recently tested was particularly harsh. Additional sound deadening materials used where the eyes can’t see no doubt play a part as well, but whatever Infiniti did, the QX60 feels more upscale, effectively shielding occupants from the world outside.
This makes its ride feel smoother and more comfortable too, and it very well could be due to suspension tuning, but if there’s a difference it’s very minor. Both are excellent when it comes to coddling occupants in suspension nirvana, no matter the road conditions, while the two SUVs are pretty decent at managing high-speed corners too, as long as you don’t get overzealous in your need to travel from A to B quickly.
A feature I would’ve liked to see Infiniti address more completely is lumbar support, the QX60’s two-way powered system identical to the Pathfinder’s, and not good enough for the luxury sector. They should have at least made a four-way system optional, because as it is you’ll either get sufficient pressure exactly where you need it on your lower back or not, the latter being the case for my five-foot-eight frame and particular pain. A four-way system allows upward and downward movement in order to satisfy all body types and conditions.
Other than this the driver’s seat is quite comfortable and should be large enough for most peoples’ requirements, while second-row seating is very accommodating thanks to plenty of room from side-to-side and the ability to slide each 60/40-split portion fore and aft as needed, plus a comfortable armrest with integrated cupholders in the middle. The third row isn’t the largest or smallest in the class, yet should be sufficient for all but large teens and adults. Better than size, access to that third row comes via Nissan/Infiniti’s innovative seat folding mechanism that lets you keep a child safety seat installed (without the child strapped in) while sliding it out of the way.
Speaking of this, the QX60 could use more child seat latches, particularly in the third row, but on the positive Nissan/Infiniti’s Rear Door Alert system is brilliant. It uses door sequence logic along with an instrument-panel message alert, plus multiple horn honks to remind its driver to check the rear seating area after parking and turning off the ignition. This is an important step towards eliminating child and pet injuries/death after being left behind to suffer in the summer heat of parked cars.
Cargo volume is good, with 447 litres (15.8 cubic feet) available behind the third row, this space made yet more functional thanks to a hidden compartment below the load floor that also houses a removable Bose subwoofer, while up to 1,155 litres (40.8 cubic feet) of gear-toting space can be created by dropping that 50/50-split third row downward via powered switches mounted on each cargo wall. Finally, the 60/40-split second-row seatbacks flip down completely flat via manual levers on their sides, providing a sizeable 2,166 litres (76.5 cubic feet) of maximum cargo volume. Some rivals offer automated second-row seats too, but this setup works well enough and the space provided is very generous.
In the end the QX60 is showing its age, but being a bit older doesn’t necessarily mean it’s outdated. Yes, its instrument panel electronics could use a refresher and I’d like to see more visual separation from the lesser Pathfinder, but it looks good inside and out, is finished in high-quality materials, drives well, and offers seven-passenger luxury SUV buyers a lot of practicality for a very good price. This 2019 model is no different than the 2020 version arriving now, other than its previously noted packages transforming into four trim levels, plus a number of new option packages.
A complete redesign isn’t far away, however, said to be arriving next year as a 2021 model, but if you can’t wait that long this 2019 model, or the new 2020 version, are good choices that drive a hard bargain in the mid-size luxury SUV class, although I expect the upcoming 2021 QX60 to be improved enough not to need a discount.
The Infiniti Q50 has been one of few sport-luxury sedans that found continued success despite the unprecedented onslaught of crossover luxury SUVs, at least before Q1 of 2019. Last year, Canadian premium…
The Infiniti Q50 has been one of few sport-luxury sedans that found continued success despite the unprecedented onslaught of crossover luxury SUVs, at least before Q1 of 2019. Last year, Canadian premium car shoppers said their unceremonious goodbyes to the BMW 3 Series, which saw its sales drop by 19.5 percent, and the Audi A4, that lost 20.3 percent, while Acura’s TLX, Cadillac’s ATS, and Jaguar’s XE gave up even more ground, but the Q50 actually grew its sales by 6.8 percent throughout 2018.
Over the past few months, however, Q50 sales have gone off the deep end with a 36.3 percent downturn, and while this is no doubt cause for concern by the powers that be at the company’s Hong Kong headquarters, it’s still not as bad as BMW’s 3 that lost 37.7 percent compared to Q1 of 2018, and Audi’s A4 that’s seen 39.9 percent of deliveries taken off its order books. Even Mercedes-Benz’ mighty C-Class has fallen by 34.5 percent, while Lexus IS deliveries (which were down 10.9 percent in 2018) have now plummeted by 45.5 percent, and Jaguar XE sales are currently nose-diving by a staggering 78.1 percent (its sales were only off by 27.8 percent last year).
I suppose I should stop tapping away at the keys right now and point you to my review of the impressive new Infiniti QX50 compact luxury SUV instead, but in all seriousness, 2,576 Canadians purchased the Q50 sport-luxury sedan during 2018, plus an additional 517 over the first three months of 2019, so I can think of plenty of good reasons to continue writing this review. In fact, I find the Q50 one of the smartest choices in the compact luxury D-segment, even if this category isn’t exactly filled with optimism these days.
As a bit of a backgrounder, Infiniti gave the Q50 a mid-cycle update for the 2018 model year, refreshing its grille, front fascia, headlamps, taillights, rear bumper design and more, so it continues forward into 2019 unchanged from a visual perspective, except for a new Canadian-exclusive “I-LINE” styling treatment that now comes standard with the renamed I-Line Red Sport 400 model.
Infiniti chose the new I-Line nomenclature from the words “Inspired Line,” and just like eyeliner it blackens the grille surround similarly to last year’s gloss-black fog light bezels and diffuser-like rear bumper cap, while the spoiler on top of the trunk lid also gets an upgrade to high-gloss carbon-fibre, plus new “custom imported” glossy black 19-inch alloys trim out the lower regions. Possibly more important, I-Line trim helps to visually differentiate the sportiest 400-horsepower Q50 from lower trims within the lineup, an intelligent move when factoring in the $7,700 leap from the already fast 300 horsepower Q50 3.0T Sport.
Of note, both 300 and 400 horsepower Q50 models utilize the same turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 engine, albeit with unique components and tuning. Engines in mind, an even bigger change for 2019 is the discontinuation of the Mercedes-Benz-sourced 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder from the Canadian market, although it continues to make 208 horsepower in other world markets, including the U.S.
Back here at home, both V6 engines use Infiniti’s advanced seven-speed automatic gearbox with manual shift mode and downshift rev-matching capability, the latter a rare and wonderfully fun enhancement to the Q50’s overall strong performance, while the Japanese luxury brand’s “Intelligent” rear-biased all-wheel drive also remains standard.
Fuel efficiency has seen improvements since Infiniti replaced the naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6 with the new 700-cc smaller turbocharged 3.0-litre engines, but now that the four-cylinder is no longer available the model’s base fuel economy, which measured 10.7 L/100km city, 8.6 highway and 9.7 combined last year, no longer sits amongst class leaders. Still, the new as-tested base 3.0-litre’s rating of 12.4 city, 8.7 highway and 10.8 combined remains competitive amongst six-cylinder rivals.
Such practical elements covered, I should also point out that the 2019 Q50 now includes standard predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking, which certainly is a step in the right direction for helping the Q50 to eventually achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick + rating.
With the 2.0-litre four now gone for 2019, Q50 3.0T Luxe AWD trim replaces the Q50 2.0T Luxe AWD, with the base price commensurately moving up $5,000 to $44,995 plus destination and fees, which just happens to be last year’s entry price for the V6. The Q50 3.0T Signature Edition being reviewed here starts just a hair higher at $46,495, while the upper mid-range of the model lineup gets filled by the previously mentioned $48,495 Q50 3.0T Sport AWD, whereas the $56,195 I-Line Red Sport 400 ends up on the top spot. This said all trims are very affordable when factoring in everything that’s on offer.
By the way, each price noted is available in detail, along with trim, package and option information, from CarCostCanada, where you can also source money saving manufacturer rebate info and otherwise difficult to get dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
Although mentioning the word “base” a moment ago, nothing about Q50’s twin-turbocharged V6 is remotely basic. To be clear, no rival offers a 300-horsepower base engine, or the direct-injected mill’s near equally impressive 295 lb-ft of torque. I’ve sung praises about this talented V6 before, plus gone on ad nauseum with respect to the seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive setup it’s mated to, so rather than pore too much attention on the numerous technological advancements that make this combo worthy of your full attention, I’ll lay down a more experiential tone.
For starters, the base engine feels even quicker off the line than those figures suggest, although those 300 and 295 output numbers are hardly insignificant. It just has more full-throttle jump from standstill than the majority of similarly rated cars, this probably due to the engine’s twin-turbochargers delivering most of that twist from only 1,600 rpm all the way to 5,200 rpm, which is considerably sooner in the rev range than a normally aspirated mill would be capable of, with a wider torque band as well.
Those turbos spin at speeds of up to 240,000 rpm, incidentally, a thought I just can’t get my brain to comprehend, especially considering their almost silent operation and complete reliability. Also worth mentioning, the mostly aluminum and therefore lightweight V6 has been on the Wards “10 Best Engines” winner list since it was created, just as its 3.7-litre and 3.5-litre predecessors were, so I’m not alone with my accolades.
Push the “START/STOP ENGINE” button just next to the gauge cluster and it purrs into action, a subtle rasp from the dual exhaust noting that this is no four-banger. Flick the “DRIVE MODE” toggle switch on the lower centre console to “SPORT” instead of “STANDARD” (SNOW, ECO and PERSONAL modes are included too), pull the contrast-stitched leather-wrapped shifter rearward into “D” and then over slightly for manual mode, and prepare yourself to shift via the gear lever as steering wheel-mounted paddles are only available with the 3.0T Sport and I-Line Sport 400 trims. No issue here, as I’ve been shifting stick for longer than I care to say. Then again, I’d appreciate having paddle-shifters too, but obviously Infiniti sees the Luxe and Signature Edition as its luxury-focused models, in spite of their quick response to throttle input and dynamic handling.
This Signature Edition wears the same standard 245/40R19 all-season run-flat performance rubber as the Sport model, but as it was my test car purposely featured winter M+S tires that without doubt impacted its lateral grip on dry sections of roadway. Just the same Infiniti didn’t go cheap on its winter tires, skinning the standard triple-five-spoke alloys in Pirelli Sottozero 3s, which showed such prowess through wet and snowy conditions that nothing nearing the likes of an SUV was at all necessary. In fact, it was so good at managing wet Left Coast snow that this Q50 quickly became my default ride for a very cold and soggy Vancouver week, while it was not only a great help in overcoming inclement weather, but its wonderfully reactive steering, wholly capable suspension, and smooth, comfortable ride made each stint behind the wheel a joy.
Of note, additional Signature Edition upgrades include the same performance-oriented exterior design details as found on the Sport, such as a sharp-edged glossy black lip front spoiler and similarly black fog light bezels, as well as a slightly less aggressive variation on the black and body-colour diffuser-infused rear bumper theme noted earlier, while each mid-range model also utilizes of an identical set of silver-painted 19-inch alloy rims, which is an improvement over base Luxe trim’s 18-inch alloy wheels and 225/50 all-season run-flat performance tires.
Finally, both mid-range Q50 trims get silver “S” badges on each front fender, but oddly the Signature Edition includes a special rear deck spoiler just above its own scripted “Signature” badge, but the Sport model doesn’t get a spoiler at all, although it does receive a silver “S” insignia beside its Q50 badge.
Slide inside and you’ll quickly see that Signature Edition and Sport trims also share identical Sport Type seats featuring driver’s power lumbar and powered torso bolsters, plus manual thigh extensions for both front seats. The driver’s seat was thoroughly comfortable and provided superb lateral support, which is always appreciated when slinging such a capable car through fast-paced curves. Additionally, the Signature Edition’s Kacchu aluminum decorative inlays mentioned earlier are also found in the Sport model, a bonus as they look fabulous and feel substantive.
Almost every other feature not yet mentioned is shared between the base Q50 Luxe model and the Signature Edition, which means the Q50 Signature Edition receives standard automatic LED headlamps with LED daytime running lights, LED fog lights and front turn signals, LED brake lamps, aluminum “INFINITI” branded tread plates, proximity keyless access, pushbutton start/stop, Infiniti’s “InTuition” for storing climate, audio and driving preferences within each “Intelligent Key”, welcome lamps on the front outer door handles, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming centre mirror, a universal remote for your garage, micro-filtered two-zone automatic climate control, an Infiniti InTouch dual-display infotainment system featuring a bright, high-resolution 8.0-inch upper monitor and an equally clear and colourful 7.0-inch lower touchscreen, a reverse camera, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, decent sounding six-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3/satellite audio with HD playback, RDS and speed-sensitive volume control, dual USB chargers, a heated steering wheel rim (that truly responds quickly), heatable front seats (almost heating up a fast), power front seats, a power glass sunroof, plus more.
Notably, along with the move up to the base V6 engine a variety of features that were previously optional now come standard, such as remote engine start, Infiniti’s precise InTouch route guidance/navigation system with lane guidance and 3D building graphics, the Infiniti InTouch Services suite of digital alerts and remote services, voice recognition for audio, SMS text messaging and vehicle info, power-adjustable lumbar for the driver, and 60/40-split rear seatbacks with a handy pass-through down the middle.
Moving upward in trims from this Signature Edition, the only significant improvements to the previously noted Sport model are performance oriented, with upgrades including the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters I spoke of before, a special sport-tuned dynamic digital suspension, and an identical set of sport brakes as found on the Red Sport 400, which incorporate four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers, while the two sportiest Q50 models also include an exclusive set of front seat-mounted side-impact airbags.
Features in mind, items not available with this Signature Edition include optional electronic power steering with the Sport model, while Infiniti’s exclusive drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) system can be had with all trims except for the Signature Edition. The same can be said for the auto-leveling adaptive front lighting system (AFS) with high beam assist, the power-adjustable steering column with memory, the Around View Monitor (AVM) with Moving Object Detection (MOD), the top-line 16-speaker Bose Performance audio system featuring Centerpoint technology, front and rear parking sonar, adaptive cruise control with full speed range, distance control assist, blindspot monitoring, blindspot intervention, lane departure warning and prevention with active lane control, and backup collision intervention with rear cross-traffic alert.
Some features that are not available with the Signature Edition, are optional with the Sport, and come standard with the Red Sport 400 include auto-dimming exterior mirrors with reverse link and memory, plus Infiniti’s advanced climate control system with auto-recirculation, Plasmacluster air purifier and grape polyphenol filter.
This puts the Q50 Signature Edition in a unique value position, by including much of the Sport trim’s features yet limiting choices to colours, which are identical to the five provided for the Sport, including Liquid Platinum silver, Graphite Shadow grey, Black Obsidian, Majestic White, and the beautiful deep Iridium Blue coating my test car; as well as interior themes, which just like with Sport trim come in Graphite (black) and Stone (grey). By the way, the base model’s interior can also be had in Wheat (tan), while available dark-stained gloss maple hardwood gives off a more traditional luxury ambiance. Additionally, those who move up to sportier Q50 trims lose the option of base Pure White and optional Mocha Almond (brown metallic) exterior paint, but the base model doesn’t offer Iridium Blue, while Red Sport 400 customers have the option of Dynamic Sunstone Red.
Features aside, all Q50 trims are finished to a very high level. My test model included stitched leather across the dash top, instrument panel, both sides of the lower console, and the upper two-thirds of each door panel, while the glove box lid boasts a high-quality soft composite too. The materials are superb as well, from that leather surfacing to the finely upholstered premium leather seats, to the gorgeous Kacchu aluminum inlays, the plentiful satin silver accents, and other surface areas, while all switchgear looks good with nice tightly spaced fitment, and feels substantial with proper luxury-level damping.
The Q50 is quiet too, whether rushing around town or speeding down the freeway, while it’s ideally spacious for all occupants. Adding size and roominess to a given market segment has long been part of Infiniti’s value proposition, and in the case of the Q50 it comes close to mid-size proportions when compared to a number of D-segment competitors. This benefits larger folk more than someone measuring a mere five-foot eight like me, but my longer legs and shorter torso often make it difficult to set up a comfortable driving position in other cars. Not so with the Q50, which provides extensive reach from the tilt and telescopic steering column, which when combined with the multi-adjustable driver’s seat allowed for optimal comfort and control. Improving on that, the power-adjustable lumbar support ideally fit the small of my back, the powered side bolsters snuggly kept me in place during hard cornering, and the thigh support adjusters nicely cupped under my knees.
As usual, I took the opportunity to sit behind my preset driver’s seat to find out how roomy the rear quarters are, and am happy to report that the rear left-side seat provided approximately five inches in front of my knees, a lot of space for my big winter boots below the driver, plus ample room side-to-side, while I had about three inches above my head, meaning six-foot-plus passengers should fit in back just fine. Rear passengers are treated to accommodations that are just as nice as the front compartment, with features including a flip-down armrest with cupholders at centre, overhead reading lamps, plus a set of air vents on the back of the front centre console.
Trunk volume should be amply sized for most owners too, but its 382 litres (13.5 cubic feet) isn’t as large as some others in this segment. I’d prefer the European-style 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatback configuration too, rather than the Q50’s 60/40 division, but the rear pass-through is probably large enough for two or three pairs of skis, which may work well enough depending if skiing is your thing, or whether or not you ever load in long cargo.
No car is perfect, but honestly the Q50 competes very well in this class, and easily deserves your earnest attention. On top of its list of virtues is value, which is always an important consideration, while Infiniti also has a very good record of dependability, makes beautiful interiors, provides arguably attractive styling, and has long been the go-to Japanese brand for performance. In the end, Infiniti will no doubt be more than happy to sell you a QX50 crossover SUV if you need more cargo capacity, but those who want the better performance of a low-slung sport sedan will appreciate that this Q50 continues to serve such purposes. Either way, Infiniti has you covered.