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2017 INFINITI Q50 Hybrid Overview
The normal Q50, Infiniti’s compact luxury car that competes with the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, was updated last year with a new group of gasoline engines that includes a turbocharged four and two turbocharged V6s. The Q50 Hybrid, with its own blend of V6 and electric power, is still available and offers minimal changes for 2017 other than the cosmetic tweaks that appear across the rest of the Q50 range, like a chromed surround for the grille. While the normal Q50 has proven to be a worthy competitor in the compact-luxury segment, the Q50 Hybrid has not been so widely praised, due to a lack of smoothness from its hybrid powertrain and regenerative braking system.
While this may be a hybrid, it still packs a lot of power. Paired with the 50kw electric motor system, the 3.5-liter V6 makes 360 total hp, which is more than all but one of the conventionally powered Q50 trims. Acceleration is brisk, to say the least, and this Q50 shows that hybrid technology can be used to make a car go faster as much as to improve fuel efficiency. Unusual in the world of hybrids is the Q50’s dual-clutch-pack hybrid system, which features a wet clutch at the back of the transmission and electric motor system and a dry clutch up front. This is apparently to make shifting gears and transitioning between power sources smoother, but road testers have noted the car is prone to unpredictable lurches while accelerating under certain conditions, so it looks like Infiniti still has to work out some of the bugs.
On electric power alone, the Q50 Hybrid can set off and travel on certain downhill grades, but under most conditions the hybrid system works with the gas engine and gets mileage of 28 mpg city/34 highway. Like the rest of the Q50 range, the hybrid version is available with all-wheel drive (AWD) in addition to the standard rear-wheel drive (RWD); opting for AWD will drop the fuel-economy ratings slightly. The Q50's ride has been noted as relatively hard, and indeed too harsh for a quiet luxury car. Though the hybrid gets Direct Adaptive Steering, an electronically assisted variable-ratio system, it does not come with any of the sportier suspension bits featured on the rest of the Q50 range.
One of the biggest differences between the standard Q50 and the hybrid version comes when you open the trunk. As is so often the case with hybrids, the battery pack intrudes upon trunk space, and what was once 13.5 cubic feet has been reduced to just 9.4. The interior includes the same pleasing technology features available in the conventional Q50, and the Hybrid Premium trim adds features like heated front seats, a power driver’s seat, a heated steering wheel, navigation, driver memory settings, maple wood trim, automatic wipers, and safety systems like blind-spot monitoring and collision warning. An available Technology package includes adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam control, adaptive cruise control, a reactive throttle pedal that helps with efficient driving, and an interior air purifier.
One area in which the Q50 Hybrid impresses is safety, thanks to a wide array of high-tech safety features one would usually only expect on more expensive luxury cars. These include moving-object detection, adaptive headlights, blind-spot intervention, lane-departure warning and prevention, active lane control, and backup collision intervention with rear cross-traffic alert. There is also a forward collision warning system with emergency braking that can read up to two cars ahead. Most of these features are included in the Technology or Driver Assistance packages (the latter included with the Hybrid Premium). The current Q50 has earned the coveted Top Safety Pick+ status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and received a 5-star overall score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so you'll be that much more secure even if you can't avoid a crash.
The Q50 Hybrid just hasn’t gotten the same kind of high marks as its conventionally powered siblings, and not enough has been changed for the 2017 model year to expect these marks to improve. One thing the hybrid does have going for it, however, is a fuel-efficient powertrain that still comes with enough grunt to make it faster than many other cars on the road. That, of course, means its mileage isn't as good as it could be, but it's still higher than that of most non-hybrids. Where the Q50 Hybrid probably excels most is in the cockpit, where it shares the Q50's impressive array of convenience and safety features, along with high-quality fit and finish.
Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a Formula Vee. After receiving history degrees, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.
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