Plush premium challenger could be the bargain buy of 2019
Chances are more people recognise Toy Story's catch-cry from Buzz Lightyear before the car brand. While the animated franchise erupted from humble beginnings "To infinity and beyond”, the marque's trajectory in Australia has been far more subdued.
According to industry figures, Infiniti sold 315 cars over the first six months this year. That's 0.1 per cent of the total market.
The premium offshoot from Nissan was always a long-term plan...but the slow burn has been looking more like lukewarm coals in recent times. Brisbane's shiny dealership in the trendy James St vicinity near Mercedes-Benz and BMW disappeared, and no details have been revealed about a replacement.
Service points are limited in Queensland, and dealers are only in capital cities, so to get one in your driveway means heading south.
Making the journey may would be well worth a trip for those chasing a bargain.
Some dealerships have been offering the base model Infiniti Q50 for as little as $36,888 drive-away. Beer income earners could sip a lot of champagne with a circa $23k saving.
Curves dominate the leather-clad dash. The ambience fits within the premium genre, with dual touchscreen colour displays featuring satnav with live traffic updates, eight-way power adjustment of the front seats, dual-zone aircon and a six-speaker stereo with full bluetooth connectivity.
Seven colours are available: two shades of black, platinum, graphite, white, blue and bronze. Interior colour options include stone or black.
Warranty coverage is strong by premium standards at four years, but it's only for 100,000km. Infiniti offers several pre-paid service options (there is only one location in Queensland at the moment, but have a chat to your local Nissan dealer to see if they will do the job) which covers maintenance annually or every 25,000km. Expect to pay about $2620 over three years.
Resale won't be a strong point, so bank on it being in the family for a while to avoid excessive deprecation.
Open the door and the steering wheel drops into the dash and the driver's seat pushes rearward for ease of entry. Common on luxury offerings, it offers a refined arrival to a cabin which feels upper class.
Operationally everything is simple, with easy navigation to the various functions on the bottom screen (including quick access to aircon controls via large side-mounted buttons). That leaves the top screen to feature primary viewing items like satnav, drive mode selectors, trip information and stereo.
Best suited to four occupants, the Q50 can handle five at a pinch. Our family of four had ample space in the realms of head, leg and elbow departments, but anyone drawing the short straw of the centre rear pew has to deal with the transmission tunnel.
Armed with active noise control, the cabin remains quiet under the majority of circumstances, although coarse chip surfaces cause some road rumble from the 18-inch run-flat tyres.
Boot capacity is impressive given the vehicle size, enough for two large suitcases along with a carry-on case and a couple of other small bags. There is also a 60/40 split rear seat function for awkward-sized gear.
The five-star rating from ANCAP was awarded in January 2014. It's unlikely the Q50 would regain the accolade now given more stringent criteria.
Pure specification vehicles lack some of the latest tech which is now standard on mainstream brands, features like autonomous emergency braking and radar cruise control. You have to step up into Sport variants to gain vastly improved tech.
It does come with front and rear parking sensors, and a handy around view monitor which is great for parking, as well as moving object detection.
Strong and smooth, the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is sourced from Mercedes and offers reasonable shove. While not in the same league as its underrated fire-breathing Red Sport brethren (that packs a 298kW wallop from a twin turbo V6), this 155kW/350Nm engine is refined and quiet.
Rear-wheel drive ensures an athletic feel to the experience behind the wheel and those who like to push boundaries will appreciate the Sport mode.
Extend your right ankle and it shifts through the seven cogs with ease and will reach 100kmh from a standing start in just over seven seconds.
Reasonably heavy by mid-size sedan standards, the Q50 doesn't feel its 1682kg weight courtesy of electronic drive-by-wire steering which is quick and smooth.
Average fuel consumption was 8.9 litres for every 100km, which is nearly two litres more than the official figure from Infiniti.
The premium genre is where I want to be, and I'm happy to stand out from the crowd with something different.
Japanese technology is reliable and the Q50 has good looks and high levels of luxury.
BMW 330i M SPORT $73,277 D/A
The consummate all-rounder, the 3 Series delivers in all areas. With outputs of 190kW/400Nm from a four-cylinder turbo, it's brilliant to drive, with an impressive cabin and plenty of practical touches.
SKODA SUPERB SPORTLINE $59,990 D/A
Certainly worth a look with a 2.0-litre turbo four (206kW/350Nm), six-speed auto and all-wheel drive, it does 0-100km/h in about 5.5 seconds.
Dealers have surreptitiously dropped the price. That makes the Q50 a premium buy at mainstream prices. It misses out on some safety tech, but it's a super comfortable drive with sporting characteristics.
AT A GLANCE
Infiniti Q50 2.0T PURE
PRICE $59,889 D/A (deals available less the $40K)
WARRANTY/SERVICING 4 years/100,000km; servicing $1292 for 3 years/45,000km (average)
ENGINE 2.0-litre turbo 155kW/350Nm 4-cyl (ok)
SAFETY 5-star, 6 airbags, lane keeping assist, front and back parking sensors, auto high beam (below average)
THIRST 7.3 litres/100km (9.2 on test)
SPARE None, run-flats (not great)
BOOT 500 litres (good)