Infiniti’s Q50S Hybrid with AWD proclaims to be a high performance hybrid-driving machine. Being a hybrid, acceleration from a standing stop is relatively quick. It has been 0-60 tested at 5.3 seconds compared to 5.5 for a conventionally powered rear-drive model.
The Q50S Hybrid gets its grunt from a 3.5-liter V6 that couples to an electric motor energized by a lithium-ion battery pack. In concert, they produce 360-hp for EPA mileage estimates of 27 city, 31-highway mpg with a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Not especially miserly, but consider it’s pulling almost 4,000 pounds of curb weight.
The fuel savings come mostly when the engine goes into sleep mode at stops, when slowly accelerating from a standing stop and when cruising at highway speeds.
Powertrain aside, the Q50S midsize luxury sedan shines when considering its nicely appointed interior. From it’s perforated and heated leather front seats with manual thigh extensions, to the driver’s power lumbar support with torso support adjustment, to the Kacchu aluminum and Maple wood interior trim that comes with the Luxury and Deluxe packages, it’s a cockpit with class and comfort.
The vertical stack contains two touchscreen displays. One is for the GPS nav map and dual rearview camera display that also provides a “birds eye” view around the car. This is a terrific feature that in itself is sometimes more effective than the camera in detecting surrounding objects. All new cars should have this.
The lower display is the input screen for nav, audio, HVAC, Bluetooth, Infiniti Connection and more. Operationally, it takes on an iPad sensation. The entire length of the stack is flanked by two sets (driver & passenger) of heat setting buttons, fan speed and air direction. There are ports for USB’s, iPod and includes Infiniti’s InTouch infotainment system. The entire audio amplifies through a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system.
As for driver controls, there is a “Drive Mode” rocker switch on the console that gives Standard, Sport, Personal, Eco and Snow modes. According to the cars’ manual, Standard mode allows for driving according to conditions. Sport Mode, adjusts the engine and trans shift points for a higher response while the setting of the steering wheel is adjusted to provide quick steering response and a heavier steering effort. But when in this mode, the manual warns that fuel economy may be reduced.
In the Snow Mode, engine characteristics change when driving on slippery roads. It’s presumed this supplements the AWD system.
In Eco Mode, engine and trans points are adjusted for increased fuel economy. In conjunction, the Eco-Pedal system also helps improve fuel economy as the accelerator requires a heavier effort. Guess this is to discourage a lead foot.
With the Personal Mode, it allows the driver to tailor the engine, trans and steering adjustments to their preference.
This aside, the ride on 19-inch Dunlop run-flat tires was somewhat stiff. The sensation was more of a sports coupe rather than a luxury sedan.
The back seat will ride two adults in comfort as the transaxle hump prevents three abreast. Ingress/egress is easy though.
Trunk space is rated at 9.4 cubic feet (13.5 normally) and is reduced because it houses the hybrid battery pack.
Handling was good with a composed ride and quick steering. Turn the steering wheel a half-inch and the cars’ nose points 20 degree’s either way. The system uses Direct Adaptive Steering, which is a drive-by-wire electronic system that unfortunately removes road feel for the driver.
Because the Q50S is a hybrid, it costs more. With an extremely lengthy list of standard features and functions, the Q50S base priced at $48,600. But when adding the Deluxe Technology Package for $5,000, the Navigation Package with InTouch, satellite radio and voice recognition for $1,400 and delivery of $905, the bottom line reflected $55,905.
To its credit, the car received impressive government safety ratings of five stars for overall safety while frontal crash received four for driver, three for passenger. Side crash earned five stars (front and rear seats) and five for rollover.
Considering the mediocre fuel savings, the cars’ higher cost for the hybrid system doesn’t seem to justify its overall cost.