Infiniti Q50 2.2d auto Premium.
Infiniti had plans to launch in Europe to compete with the likes of Lexus, Audi, BMW & Mercedes Benz, but a combination of the 2008 recession & high oil prices scuppered this, until in 2009, Infiniti did indeed launch in the UK, initially with a range of V6 & V8 petrol engined models, which only appealed to the wealthy. Then in 2013, Infiniti fitted the 2.1 Mercedes diesel engine to it’s 3 Series competitor Q50 model & voila, they had a model which could appeal to the company car driver & would hopefully kick-start Infiniti sales to SME’s here in the UK
Fast forward to April 2014 & those good people at Infiniti sent CCV a Q50 2.2d to test drive, so that we could find out, A. Is it any good ? & B. Is it a viable alternative to the established competition ?
The Q50 is certainly an attractive car to look at & is perhaps more Lexus than Audi in it’s looks, although it could be argued that the latest BMW models are starting to look a bit more Japanese as well. As with Lexus, you get an awful lot of standard equipment for your money, in this case included inside are a multi-function steering wheel in leather, heated front seats, dual touch screens, one for the SatNav & one for multi media, Bluetooth with voice recognition & audio streaming, remote keyless entry, rear view camera, dual zone adaptive climate control, cruise control, push button ignition, 6 speaker sound system, AM/FM/CD/USB/iPOD/Aux in, active noise control, Stop/Start, speed sensitive PAS & active trace control. Outside add 17″ alloys, heated exterior power mirrors, LED fog lights front & rear, LED rear lights, halogen auto-level headlights with daytime running lights 7 twin exhaust tail pipes with a chrome finish. Infiniti are obviously quick learners because there were almost £10,000 worth of extras fitted to my test model, taking it up from a realistic £31,900 to a BMW-like £41,580.
However, it has to be said that the interior build quality is very go0d & certainly on par with Audi & Mercedes. It’s also the longest car in it’s class & comes with plenty of room both in the cabin & in the class leading 500 litre boot. The leather seats were comfortable & this comfort was only added to by Infinitis superb suspension which ironed out any bumps that I came across around town. A trip to the beach over the Easter weekend gave me the opportunity to test the Q50 with 4 passengers & it didn’t disappoint. As a motorway cruiser the Q50 was faultless with enough oomph to overtake when required, reaching 62 mph in just 8.5 seconds, whilst simultaneously offering a very quiet cabin enviroment. Admittedly, the engine is a bit gruff at start up & is noticeable at idle, but otherwise highly enjoyable. The auto box is also smooth although the kick down from start is a little slow when you need it.
My phone connected to the Bluetooth system in less than 30 seconds & my iPOD was simple to connect as well, so I was a happy bunny. Some may find the dual touchscreen of the Q50 a little confusing but after a couple of days I had almost conquered it, just struggling with the DAB radio choices which seem to fox me in every car I drive ! The SatNav was clear & easy to operate too & the addition of distance control enabled me to sit in motorway road works at a constant 50 mph without fear of hitting the car in front.
Infinitis first steps into the fleet market will ultimately be governed by its models tax-friendliness. With CO2 emissions of just 124g/km & a combined fuel economy of 58.9 mpg it’s off to a promising start. My 250 miles of combined driving saw me average 43.7 mpg which I thought was pretty good & not that far below the claimed figure.
Should I consider one ? If you want something different that’s as well equipped & as tax friendly as it’s competitors then the answer is yes. It will most definitely find a place on SME shopping lists if Infiniti can get bums on seats. Whist it may never usurp the Germans from the top of the table, it will give both Lexus & Jaguar food for thought in what is becoming a highly competitive sector. Contract hire prices for the Q50 are currently around £300 per month, which puts it firmly in the market place at the right price. There are currently only eight Infiniti Centres in the UK, with plans for three more to open shortly in Norwich, Maidstone & Newcastle & more over the next couple of years. When the entire Infiniti range is offered with diesel engines, the brand really will take off. Until then the Q50 is a very good effort & bodes well for the brand in years to come.