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2014 Infiniti Q50S 3.7 Long-Term Verdict Review

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 6/22/2015 Motor Trend Staff, Chris Clonts

The feeling we get when we approach the sexy lines of the Q50S hasn't changed, and it's the same for passersby, who still remark on the car's good looks, particularly with the Performance Wheel package. And the luxury sports sedan gives the love back, greeting us with aggressive LED headlight surrounds and taillights and softer puddle lighting as we hit the key fob to unlock it at night.

With enough road, the Infiniti Q50S' 3.7-liter engine can power a lot of fun with the traction control turned off.

The fashionable Stone (off-white) leather interior creates an elegant contrast with the darker colors and wood-grain-and-aluminum look of the asymmetrical cockpit. Yessir: This car is easy on the eyes.

But in our 20,000 miles with the Q50S, did it live up to those looks? That's where we could split our verdict into a tale of two cars: one a capable sports sedan that — from a performance standpoint — delivers driving enjoyment, the other a car packed with remarkable technology that shows great promise but delivered some frustrations.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image The 3.7-liter V-6 that produces 328 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque helps the Q50 come closer to living up to the red "S" in its rear-deck badging. We were able to get it to 60 mph in a not-bad-at-all 5.2 seconds. Throttle response is good and is more than enough for aggressive (when needed, of course) daily driving.

But that engine has been around since 2008 (and its heritage goes back much further). It has the power, which requires premium fuel, but is found wanting in efficiency. And for lower trim levels of the Q50, it could be a bit much, as senior production editor Zach Gale noted: "Until a Q30 or QX30 model reaches U.S. dealers, Infiniti may have missed out on Q50 buyers who would be perfectly content with the Mercedes-derived, turbocharged, 2.0-liter I-4 that produces just over 200 hp."

Much has been said about the Q50S' steer-by-wire system, called Direct Adaptive Steering. You turn the wheel, and instead of a steering column doing its thing, motors at each front wheel react with, well, electrical speed and precision. Some have panned the system as feeling overly artificial. On some settings, it can be twitchily responsive. The bottom line: I got used to it. I can tell the difference when stepping into other cars, but it shouldn't prevent anyone from selecting the Q50S. All the other cars with notably better "feel" in the past year tended to be pricier than the Q50S. And besides: The steering system is shipping on only a few cars, and some reports indicate Infiniti could ditch DAS for 2016.

Executive editor Ron Kiino said the Q50S was hard to "place" around curves, which I attribute to the learning curve specific to the steering. Mostly, the Q50S had everything it needed in traffic and, let loose on the occasional mountain road, was enjoyable when pushed, though not the handler that some competitors are. We can say definitively, with enough road, the 3.7-liter engine can power a lot of fun with the traction control turned off.

How did passengers view the Q? Front passengers loved the seat and its adjustable thigh support. Back-seat passengers occasionally commented on the ride, usually the result of the Q50S' stiffer suspension (which I prefer to the standard Q50's more comfort-driven setup) meeting choppy expansion joints on SoCal freeways.

Early on, Infiniti was marketing the Q50 as an exciting-to-drive luxury sedan. Lately, it has concentrated on hawking the impressive array of active safety tech available. "It's instinct to protect leaves you free to drive," the tagline goes.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image Our car's Technology package provided distance-adjustable cruise control, blind-spot warning system, backup collision prevention, adaptive cruise control, predictive forward collision warning, and active lane control. As impressive as active lane control was on long freeway trips, other safety tech seemed too intrusive or conservative. I had the system begin braking to avoid a roadside tree (it was close to the road, sure, but not in my path) in late lane-change situations where it could have added to danger versus mitigating it and warn while the car was in reverse of objects that were not there. Once while accelerating on a freeway on-ramp, a right-side brake (I think) became permanently engaged enough that the car developed a slight pull. Was braking of the VDC system gone askew? I took the next exit, shut the car down, and restarted, and all was OK again.

Those issues aren't as frequent when compared to the frustrations of the InTouch infotainment system I and hundreds of forum posters experienced. That's not surprising, because such systems are now the biggest source of consumer complaints.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image The two-screen InTouch system is ambitious. I could live with one screen but appreciate being able to control the audio, for instance, while the nav is displayed up top. But it was slow to load (this was improved somewhat with a software update) and suffered from glitches (sometimes freezing, sometimes glitching out and making me re-enter a destination, sometimes making volume control inaccessible). There is a smartphone app that can read Facebook and allow for canned responses, but it's more amusing than useful at this point.

The Q50 line offers a solid platform and design cues that should serve Infiniti well for some time. If new Infiniti president and former BMW exec Roland Krger's team can nail the assistance tech's balance between safety and driving freedom and clean up the infotainment system, the Q50 would edge closer to the standouts in the ultra-competitive entry-level luxury class.

More on our long-term 2014 Infiniti Q50S 3.7:

Our Car
SERVICE LIFE 15 mo / 19,811 mi
BASE PRICE $44,455
OPTIONS Technology Package ($3,200: blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning), Deluxe Touring Package ($3,100: by-wire electric Direct Adaptive Steering, Around View Monitor, parking sensors), Performance Wheel Package ($1,800: forged wheels, staggered tires), Navigation Package ($1,400: navigation, SiriusXM Traffic), illuminated door sill plates ($400), cabin ambient lighting ($240), welcome lighting ($225)
AVG ECON/CO2 19.6 mpg / 0.99 lb/mi
MAINTENANCE COST $651.13 (4-oil change, inspection; 2-engine-air filter; 1-cabin-air filter)
NORMAL-WEAR COST $31.67 (wiper blades)
RECALLS Direct Adaptive Steering software, front passenger detection software
*Automotive Lease Guide data

2014 Infiniti Q50S 3.7 Long-Term Verdict Review

2014 Infiniti Q50S
ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, aluminum block/heads
VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl
DISPLACEMENT 225.6 cu in/3,696cc
POWER (SAE NET) 328 hp @ 7,000 rpm
TORQUE (SAE NET) 269 lb-ft @ 5,200 rpm
REDLINE 7,500 rpm
WEIGHT TO POWER 11.4 lb/hp
TRANSMISSION 7-speed automatic
SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar
STEERING RATIO 12.1-37.0:1
BRAKES, F;R 14.0-in vented disc; 13.8-in vented disc, ABS
WHEELS 8.5 x 19-in, forged aluminum
TIRES, F;R 245/40R19 94Y; 265/35R19 94W Bridgestone Potenza RE050A
WHEELBASE 112.2 in
TRACK, F/R 60.8/61.8 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 189.1 x 71.8 x 56.8 in
CURB WEIGHT 3,727 lb
WEIGHT DIST., F/R 56/44%
HEADROOM, F/R 39.5/36.8 in
LEGROOM, F/R 44.5/35.1 in
SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 56.7/56.1 in
CARGO VOLUME 13.5 cu ft
0-30 1.9 sec
0-40 2.9
0-50 4.0
0-60 5.2
0-70 6.8
0-80 8.5
0-90 10.4
0-100 13.0
PASSING, 45-65 MPH 2.6
QUARTER MILE 13.7 sec @ 102.7 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 108 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 25.5 sec @ 0.76 g (avg)
TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,900 rpm
AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain
BASIC WARRANTY 4 yrs/60,000 miles
POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 6 yrs/70,000 miles
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY 169/116 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.83 lb/mile
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 20.0/29.6/23.4 mpg
RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded premium

2014-Infiniti-Q50S-front-three-quarters-in-motion© Provided by MotorTrend 2014-Infiniti-Q50S-front-three-quarters-in-motion

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