Wow factor makes up for identity crisis

Wow factor makes up for identity crisis

John Craggs, deputy chief executive at Gentoo, was impressed with the ‘blistering performance’ of the Infiniti Q50... once he managed to find it

I got quite excited at the thought of doing a test drive for BQ. Would it be an Aston
Martin, a nice little Mercedes sporty thing, or even a Ferrari.

Now, where could I best park that in Sunderland?

When I was told it would be an Infiniti, well, forgive me, but I must admit to being a little underwhelmed. I remembered reading some time ago, that this was really a posh Nissan, built for the executive market.

Then I thought, ‘hang on a second John, don’t go prejudging it – you’ve done that once with a Nissan, but then got the chance to drive a Nissan GTR at Silverstone’. What followed was the best and fastest drive of my life, in an absolutely blistering Nissan.

So, ‘be open minded’, I thought, and let’s see what we’ve got. That’s when my first problem started. I hadn’t been available when the car was delivered. I knew it was in the staff car park, so after about 20 minutes, I returned and said to my PA, ‘Are you sure it’s in the car park – I can’t find it!’

Turns out I’d walked past it about five times as, from the badge on the front, I’d mistaken it for a Mazda.

When I took a walk around it – and looked in a bit more detail, it was clearly a little bit different – the name ‘Infiniti’, the model, ‘Q50’, as well as ‘AWD’ and ‘Hybrid’, really make me want to give it a spin.

I started her up with the keyless ignition system – or at least I thought I had. It genuinely took me several minutes to realise that at tick over the rev counter shows zero rpm – and there was no noise or sound from the engine at all. Having never driven a Hybrid before, how was I meant to know it was running off the lithium battery? Oh yes, and the other surprise was the lack of a handbrake – well, until I stumbled across it with my left foot.

So, into reverse and get ready to finally leave the car park. Hang on – what on earth? My eyes were drawn to the huge double display panel on the dash, showing off the full range of amazing all-round camera system – for safety and precision.

I’ve seen smaller screens at the cinema! The main thing in this regard, however, which really blew me away, was the Google Earth like aerial view of the car, in real time, so that you get a 360° shot of your car from above. Wow – I still haven’t managed to work that one out. I actually thought that if some boy racer tries to get past me, I could probably call in a missile strike!

Off I went, picked my wife up, who immediately loved the heated leather seats. They don’t have them in her 1987 BMW 5-series, she pointed out to me.

Infiniti MontageNot knowing what engine size the quiet Infiniti had, we headed off onto the A19. I was just toddling along minding my own business, noticing that the immensely comprehensive on-board computer display showed that this Infiniti had done some 6750 miles thus far, of which 1850 were from the electric motor, which I thought seemed quite respectable, and must help with both fuel economy and CO² emissions hugely. Then, something quite extraordinary happened.

I guess in answer to my ‘question to self’, I decided to see what sort of power an Infiniti Q50 Hybrid had – so I put my foot down (I must point out that I didn’t use the full performance of the car. It does 155mph and there may be senior members of Northumbria and Durham Constabulary reading this review!).

Anyway – wow. The Infiniti took off like a scalded cat. The fusion, the 3 litre combustion (@ 300 bhp) and the lithium charged electric motor (@ 70 bhp) gives a superb blistering performance, which really takes you by surprise.

Whilst the engine is never noisy, it gives a kind of ‘swoosh’ as the two motors and automatic gearbox gets you from nowhere to somewhere else in the blink of an eye. The instant acceleration really is immense, and a joy to behold.

Over the next 48 hours, the mist really descended over the North East, and the opportunity to use the Infiniti to its full potential wasn’t great. It did mean that I did more town and city driving. It was interesting and very easy to see just when the car was running off the battery or the engine, and dependent upon the settings you choose on the on board display. I could see that around town I was able to get around 30mpg. This, for a car delivering a claimed 370 bhp, was no mean achievement.

The visibility from the cockpit/driver’s seat was good. It was light and airy, and my wife always likes an electric glass sun roof, which I believe was an optional extra. The space and comfort in the rear was acceptable if not generous.

The trim was of a high quality, stylish and a nice use of materials and colour.

However, a drawback to the Q50 is the boot isn’t very big. I read somewhere once, that something like 80% of people who run a Lexus, also play golf. So you might struggle to get a golf bag and trolley into the space.

I’m guessing that’s a concession to the Lithium battery storage, which given the added performance and the fuel saving, is a worthy sacrifice.

So, could I Iive with this as my day car – the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.

Would I have one – unfortunately I would have to say ‘no’ as I couldn’t part with my classic 1988 BMW 315i convertible.

The car John drove was Infiniti Q50 Hybrid AWD priced at £49,055. The car was kindly supplied by Infiniti.