Infiniti Q50 vs rivals

12 Feb, 2014 9:48am

We see if the new Q50 can help Infiniti take the fight to the compact exec establishment

You’ve probably seen Infiniti branding on the Red Bull Formula One cars, but have you ever seen an Infiniti on the road? While Nissan’s luxury division is as big as Lexus in the US, it’s yet to make an impact here.

Infiniti Q50 review

BMW 3 Series review

Lexus IS review

The new Q50 compact executive aims to change that. This rear-wheel-drive saloon is intended to take sales from established brands by offering efficient diesel power, a generous amount of standard equipment and a driving experience that mixes comfort with good handling.

That sounds similar to our current class champ, the BMW 3 Series. So we’ve put the Q50 Premium against the 320d Sport, as well as lining up Lexus’ IS 300h. The hybrid IS has temptingly low running costs and shows that an ambitious Japanese brand can be a contender.

Head-to-head

On the road The BMW strikes a great balance between comfort and handling, and while the suspension is on the firm side, it’s more composed than the Infiniti’s over bumps. The Lexus shows the Q50 a clean pair of heels for comfort, too. Although the IS 300’s driving experience is pretty lifeless, it’s a great motorway cruiser – there’s hardly any cabin noise, and the suspension soaks up bumps well.

Company costs

With emissions of 114g/km, the Q50 sits one tax bracket below the BMW, at 17 per cent. That means it’s marginally cheaper to run – but if you really want to save some cash, choose the Lexus. It sits in the 12 per cent band, and its annual tax liability is £500 less for top-rate payers.

Build quality

In most respects, the Infiniti is just as well built as its rivals, but it’s perceived quality that disappoints. The bootlid is lightly sprung,
so it slams shut with minimal effort, and some welds are clearly visible around the rear window.

Worth Considering

If you don’t want to go German or Japanese, then your only option is the S60. For £30,000, you get a top-spec R-Design with the new 181bhp, 99g/km diesel engine.

1st place - BMW

Another challenger is sent packing by the 3 Series. While the Infiniti has lower company-car costs, the 320d is much better to drive, faster, roomier and more comfortable (despite its noisy diesel). It’s cheaper to buy, and everyday running costs remain low.

2nd place - Lexus

The IS 300h isn’t involving to drive like the BMW, but it’s an accomplished cruiser, thanks to its hybrid drive and comfortable interior. And if you’re after a company car, then it’s a great choice, with far lower bills than either rival here.

3rd place - Infiniti

The Q50d is comfortably outperformed by its rivals here. It’s well built and equipped, but let down by an unrefined diesel, ponderous chassis and unsettled suspension. Company costs are lower than the BMW’s, yet the Lexus’ are better still.

BMW  Lexus  Infiniti Q50 
320d Sport IS 300h Luxury 2.2d Premium
On-the-road price/total as tested £29,775/£40,240 £30,995/£35,900 £30,350/£38,110
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £13,280/44.6% £13,390/43.2% £11,563/38.1%
Depreciation £16,495 £17,605 £18,787
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £1,057/£2,114 £743/£1,485 £1,030/£2,060
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,658/£2,764 £1,513/£2,521 £1,767/£2,945
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 31/£411/C/£30 32/£414/B/£20 40/£480/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £425 (5yrs/50k) £773 (3yrs) £300/£360/£300
Length/wheelbase 4,624/2,810mm 4,665/2,800mm 4,790/2,850mm
Height/width 1.429/1,811mm 1,430/1,810mm 1,445/1,820mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,995cc 4cyl in-line/2,494cc 4cyl in-line/2,143cc
Peak power  182/4,000 bhp/rpm 220/6,000 bhp/rpm 168/3,200 bhp/rpm
Peak torque  380/1,750 Nm/rpm 221/4,200 Nm/rpm 400/1,600 Nm/rpm
Transmission  6-spd man/rwd eCVT/rwd 6-spd man/rwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 57 litres/run-flats 66 litres/repair kit 74 litres/run-flats
Boot capacity  480 litres 450 litres 500 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,495/550kg/N/A 1,720/425/750kg 1,723/527/1,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 11.3 metres/0.27Cd 10.4 metres/0.26Cd 11.4 metres/0.26Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs 3yrs (60k)/3yrs AA 3yrs (60k)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers Variable/153 10k miles (1yr)/51 12,000 miles (1yr)/8
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 15th/24th 1st/1st N/A
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars 95/84/78/5 91/85/80/5 86/85/67/5
0-60/30-70mph 7.3/6.7 secs 7.8/7.1 secs 9.3/8.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th  3.3/5.3 secs 3.0 secs (kickdown) 4.0/6.9 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th  6.2/8.7 secs 4.3 secs (kickdown) 7.5/11.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph  146mph/2,000rpm 125mph/1,200rpm 144mph/1,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph  47.1/34.4/8.6m 51.0/37.0/9.2m 48.3/34.6/8.9m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 68/48/61/68dB N/A/N/A/52/63dB 76/48/54/64dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 45.5/10.0/571 miles 47.1/10.4/684 miles 42.7/9.4/695 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  48.7/74.3/61.4mpg 61.2/61.4/64.2mpg 50.4/76.3/64.2mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined  11.5/15.9/13.8mpl 13.5/13.5/14.1mpl 11.1/16.8/14.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 166/120g/km/18% 139/103g/km/12% 177/114g/km/17%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Six/yes/rear/£330 Eight/yes/yes/yes Six/yes/yes/yes
Auto box/stability ctrl/adaptive cruise £1,550/yes/£620 Yes/yes/no £1,550/yes/£2,080*
Climate control/leather/heated seats Yes/£1,295/£325 Yes/£1,400/£1,400 Yes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/LED lights/keyless go £645/no/£495 £610/no/yes £660/£680/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth £990/yes/yes/yes £1,995/yes/yes/yes £1,920/y/£2,760^/y

Disqus - noscript

I'm slightly confused... AE states the 320d is faster and cheaper to buy than the other two.

Let's take the first point.... Faster, in terms to top speed yes, but that is largely irrelevant here in the UK and looking at the figures you show, the Lexus is the fastest in-gear where it matters 30-50 and 50-70 - an electric motor provides instant power unlike a turboed derv.

On the second point, Cheaper to buy - that's perhaps the case, but how many 320d will be bought completely standard - very few I'd suggest and by the time you spec the Beemer to even half that of the IS or Q50 it'll probably be another £4-5K, and then that has an negative impact on residuals too which is important for private buyers especially.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's frankly bored of the assumption that everyone drives on a twisty B-road at break-neck speeds or a track. I'll concede that if a buyers absolute number 1 priority is to blast down country lanes then the Beemer is probably the best here, but if that's the case, there are far better cars that can do that rather than a 2.0L diesel!

I just wish for once, a review would take into account more than just the chassis setup which let's be honest is what matters for 99% of the rest of us.... reading the reviews and comparing the stats leads me to suggest that in actual fact in this case the IS300h is the one that offers the best all-round, everyday enjoyment taking into account reliability, quality, refinement, comfort. etc and if you are a company car driver, it win's hands down.

Of course, we'll never ever read a review in the UK like that.

Oh forgot to say, there is footage on youtube of the IS300h out accelerating the Merc C250, so it's no slouch I'd suggest.

I work for the biggest car and van leasing company in Britain. Most of our lease contracts are for 3 years but we have some that are much longer. We supply a huge amount of vehicles to the private and public sectors including several police forces.

One thing that always amazes me when reading forums like this is the myth that BMWs are less reliable compared to other brands. Where did that come from? Yes, I've seen nearly new BMWs with catastrophic mechanical faliures but you'll see a similar proportion from all manufacturers.

What I will say about BMWs is that they seem to be a lot more abused than cars of other brands. The cars tend to suffer from far more tyre and brake wear. Also, nearly 40% of our BMWs are now supplied with automatic transmissions as a surprising number of drivers seem to like destroying their engines by changing down to 1st or 2nd at high speed!

Have you ever driven a Lexus? I ask because statistics show that few people have. They are good cars. Yes they're quiet, comfortable and refined but so are BMWs. There is no noticeable difference in these areas.

I can assure you that it's not just high speed handling that BMWs exceed at, it's day to day driving and living with the cars. The controls are much more responsive and the cars are a much better drive - even just driving round an Asda carpark! I really can't understand why other manufacturers don't reverse engineer BMWs to learn how to build cars that are enjoyable to drive. They've had enough time!

In my experience, BMW have always been very conservative when it comes to speed stats. You can't make conclusions from a youtube vid. There are videos of Lada Rivas beating Porsche 911s!

How do you know the Lexus is fastest 'in gear' over 30-50 and 50-70? The figures say 'Kickdown' which means that that the auto eCVT box changes right down to the appropriate ratio for the job in hand. As for the "99% of the rest of us", please talk for yourself! You sound as though you deserve to be lumbered with a Lexus or Infinity!

Hi HTG,

We have figures for the 320d manual because we haven't tested the auto version, and as the manual Infiniti is the lead car, then it made sense to use the figures for the manual car.

Also, we had an auto when we did the pictures for this test, but it was a 4WD model, so again, it wouldn't have been a fair comparison. Acceleration through the gears from 30-70mph is the best figure to look at when comparing the BMW to the Lexus.

When we do these tests, we usually use the online car configurators for each manufacturer to spec these cars up to a similar level. While speccing up a 320d to the same level as the Infiniti raises the price, we don't think you'd feel short changed with the standard kit on offer, and the price of options is more reasonable than those for the Infiniti.

Thanks

Dean Gibson
Deputy road test editor

You look really desperate.

I drive anything over a 3 series :)

Not desperate at all just dispelling the myth that this particular hybrid is slow.

The lexus has the best build quality, an excellent paint job and the best interior fit and finish, way better than the BMW. I have had a look at both cars (and drove the BMW for an hour). I was impressed by the excellent performance figures of the BMW. I was Not impressed with the noise of the engine and the, in my opinion, very cheap materials inside. The quality of the materials used in the Lexus are so much better than the BMW, not to mention the better service at the Lexus dealers.

J. McLeod - No myth that BMW's are unreliable compared to the likes of Lexus. It's a fact!! BTW I used to work in the car industry.

I've nothing against the 3 series aside from its common 'repmobile' image. However if I was spending my own money I would take the Lexus everytime. It looks superb, and drives in a sporty enough manner. The refinement/build/reliability/excellent dealer service are the icing on the cake. While the Q50 also appeals, that lacklustre Merc sourced engine would put me off.

I wouldn't say so. Normally desperate people tend to buy the likes of the C class or 3 series!

Lexus and Infinity are brands created by marketing men using focus groups to establish a name that suggests quality and 'coolness'. That is the main reason why they havent done so well in Europe IMO. They did well in America though as they are far more sheepish in their buying habits.

Its unfortunate that in the UK that the German car brands have been adopted by Essex chav types with far more money than sense so I can see why they have an image problem. Its the same in Russia where I spend half the year, but in the rest of Europe, like here in Swiss BMW and Merc are just seen as well engineered cars. Mercs dont have a posh image they are taxis and van makers as well as being the brand that invented the motor car. BMW in particular are wonderful to drive (at least the saloons are dont know about the suvs)

You are more than "slightly confused" lad! If you had brains you'd be dangerous!

I agree on the Infiniti - it's either a poor diesel or very fast hybrid based 3.5. All for the latter, but really I'm sure there are better engines available within Nissan/Renault rather than get a handmedown from Mercedes.

Thanks for your thoughts.... must have taken you all day to come up with that.

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