The first time we reviewed the Infiniti Q50, we loved it. Except for a diesel engine which just killed all the fun to had amidst the modern luxury. Now Infiniti has a petrol version of the same car, and it's awesome.
The new Q50 petrol features the double-arch grille -- part of Infiniti's new design language going forward -- and has a commanding road presence thanks to a poised design. From the front it looks like a shark on the hunt, while from the rear it looks like a big cat ready to pounce. Because animal metaphors. Infiniti puts the Q50 through the same aerodynamic testing as the Red Bull team F1 cars driven by Aussie Daniel Ricciardo and former season champ, Sebastian Vettel, so it's kind of meant to look as sleek as humanly possible.
The Q50 comes in three models: the entry-level GT which starts at $50,900, the S at $56,900 and the S Premium at $61,500, squeaking you in just under Australia's Luxury Car Tax for what is most certainly a luxury car.
The GT misses out on a few things, including the Dynamic Adaptive Steering system, safety sensor systems around the car and a few cosmetic upgrades.
S and S-Premium customers get larger alloys, more safety features, paddle-shift controls on the steering wheel and a 14-speaker Bose system. That Bose system is pretty sweet, too, especially considering the front speaker is essentially a dashboard-mounted soundbar.
The Infiniti Q50 petrol is packing a 2.0L turbo-charged engine which produces 155kW of power and 350Nm of torque, and features rear-wheel drive. The gearbox is a 7-speed automatic with a manual option. There's also a paddle-shift manual mode on the S and S Premium models.
The Q50 sits in the range alongside the Q50 2.2L turbo-diesel, and the Q50 3.5 Hybrid model. For what it's worth, the hybrid model is gobsmackingly-good. We were blown away by the savage acceleration the instant-torque engine is able to provide, alongside 4-cyl economy. Back to the petrol, however.
Infiniti's steer by wire system is still around on the Q50, and it's actually pretty nifty. For some reason, it feels way more sensitive on the Q50 petrol than it did on the 2.2L Q50 diesel.
The Dynamic Adaptive Steering system (to use it's technical name) works thanks to actuators sitting on the wheels which use hydraulic motors to move car about when you turn the steering wheel in the cabin.
A steering force actuator in the wheel transmits to a steering angle actuator by way of a clever computer system consisting of multiple ECUs. The actuator then moves the wheels in accordance to your steering wheel.
Your wheels are kept straight on the road by the actuator and the computers, so no feedback from rough roads is transmitted through the wheel when conditions get bumpy. Simultaneously, cross-winds are accounted for by the car also.
The Q50 still has a mechanical steering in the unlikely event things go completely wrong, but a clutch separates the mechanical and the electrical systems when the car is turned on. If the electrics fail, a spring snaps back into place, activating the manual steering system.
The Drive Mode Selector switch still sits atop the the transmission tunnel, and allows you to change the driving experience between standard, sport, snow and personal modes.
Each mode changes engine performance and mapping, transmission and shift patterns, as well as the default mode for the Dynamic Adaptive Steering.
The Infiniti InTouch infotainment system makes a return in the Q50 Petrol, with a dual-screen set up.
The top screen will always play navigation, while the bottom is essentially a massive tablet, powered by an Intel Atom processor and featuring apps like Email, Calendar, Facebook and Twitter. There's no app store for it, sadly, but Infiniti says that it puts regular updates onto the system every time you take it in for a service. Consider it your annual oil change and patch day for your car.
The Q50's keys are to specific drivers in your house, so nobody's about to argue about who moved the seat or changed the presets. You get your own station, seating arrangement, and more when you climb in with your key in the driver's seat.
As far as driving the thing is concerned, it's an experience that will serve to plaster a big ol' smile all over your dial. Not only does it feature the luxury and build-quality we've come to expect from Infiniti cars, but the engine is zippy and responsive underfoot. It's a joy to drive over the diesel, which while still good, felt big, slow and cumbersome in places.
The petrol is much faster off the line (even with a modicum of throttle lag) and from the looks of things, almost as economical. We were getting 8.7L/100km on the highway, with a total range of over 700km from a 75-litre tank.
The petrol engine also feels much faster than its diesel counterpart. When you want to have some fun in the corners with your rear-wheel drive powertrain, you get up to speed faster and the noise is superb. It's like taking a first-class airport lounge out onto the track with you and finding it accelerates and handles like a G6.
It's worth noting that while this car is weaponised luxury when it wanders out onto a track, it might not be the best idea to push it too hard. After some circuit driving we had a few issues with out Q50. Mostly it stemmed from smoking brakes after non-stop 195km/h laps at Sandown raceway in Melbourne.
Admittedly, it had been in the hands of professional drivers on a reasonably challenging circuit non-stop for four days, but still: don't get into the Q50 thinking it's the Infiniti Red Bull F1 car. You'll be left with the sounds of sadness and metal on metal.
The Infiniti Q50 lands in showrooms from 1 October, and if you're tossing up between a BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes C Class, do yourself a favour and check one out. The new kid on the block may surprise you.
Luke Hopewell travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Infiniti.