I recently saw a McLaren F1 and a Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe within minutes of each other on the Edgware Road in London.
So far, I’ve only spotted two Infiniti cars on the road – three if you count the one (a Q50 Hybrid) I’ve just been driving for a week.
For those that don’t know, Infiniti is the luxury/performance arm of Nissan. In other words, it is to Nissan, what Lexus is to Toyota.
Infiniti also happens to be the title sponsor of F1 World Champions Red Bull, however, Infinitis are still a rare sight on UK roads.
I’m pleased to say the Q50 could well be the model to change all that. It’s an executive saloon that finally gives market leaders Audi and BMW, and Lexus, a run for their money.
With a low stance and sculpted lines, it’s more muscular and aggressive than its rivals. It comes loaded with goodies including dual multimedia touchscreens, a 14-speaker Bose audio system, surround-view cameras and heated front seats.
The Q50 also features some serious safety systems which no doubt helped it achieve a maximum Euro NCAP 5-star safety rating. There’s even Active Lane Control which uses an on-board camera to relay information back to the state-of-the-art steering control unit to keep the car centred in a motorway lane.
Parking is also easier and safer thanks to warning beeps and live footage from the front and back cameras displayed on-screen.
Inside it’s all leather. Sink into the cockpit and your seat glides you into the position you set in the memory. Rear passenger space is slightly better than its rivals, though six-footers front and back is a squeeze.
Press the start/stop button and either the 3.5-litreV6 roars into life or “EV” lights up in the speedo and you’re running on stored electric, which means all your low speed manoeuvres will be carried out in silence.
Blip the accelerator and you’re off. Give it some welly and the petrol motor kicks in, propelling you to 60mph in an impressive five seconds via a 7-speed automatic gearbox with optional paddles behind the steering wheel. Top speed is a blistering 155mph.
The throaty V6 engine sounds the part when pushed and it cruises effortlessly on motorways. It can even shut down when coasting downhill and the electric motor kicks in.
However, the economy isn’t quite as good as you’d expect from a car with such green credentials. Infiniti claims it’s capable of 40mpg+. Driven carefully that’s probably true, but it’s not that kind of car – it’s a performance car, itching to be unleashed, so expect nearer 30-35mpg.
If you want frugality, then opt for the Q50 with a 2.1-litre Mercedes-derived turbo-diesel. It’s capable of nearer 60mpg and is no slouch either.
The Q50 Hybrid’s firm ride might not be to everyone’s taste, while the powerful brakes can be a little fierce too. Some reviewers have also criticised its big technological breakthrough – a steer-by-wire steering system which means there’s no mechanical link between the steering wheel and wheels. Apparently the steering lacks feedback. I can’t say I had any issues with it.
If you want to stand out from the crowd and drive a safe, powerful car packed with hi-tech goodies, the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid could well be for you. You also get instant membership to a fairly exclusive club!
The 2.1d costs from £27,950, while the 3.6 V6 Hybrid starts at £40,000.