Infiniti Q50 2.0T Sport15 | 09 | 2014Scotcars rating

    Infiniti has struggled to get a foothold in the UK market, but new Q50 2.0T should change that

    INFINITI HAS A PROBLEM: very few people appear to be aware the car manufacturer even exists. And it's a problem the company readily acknowledges.

    "We're very low on brand awareness," Steve Oliver, regional director for Infiniti North Europe, admitted. "We have massive progress to make in terms of expanding our visibility."

    Rather bizarrely, the majority of those who are aware of the Infiniti name and logo tend to think it's some sort of American company when, in reality, it's the 'premium' offshoot of the giant Nissan company. The fact it has a major sales foothold in the States should simply highlight this company means business.

    The good news for us is Infiniti definitely means business in Scotland, as anyone who has visited its Infiniti Centre at Braehead on the western outskirts of Glasgow, will tell you.

    And to add further impetus to its expansion, the company has just added a third engine to its premium saloon line-up in the shape of the Infiniti Q50 2.0T Sport. And the likelihood is, it could well be the best of the bunch.

    It won't have slipped your notice that the majority of executive cars like the Q50 are diesel-powered. Why? Company car buyers and fleet managers focus primarily on squeezing every last mile out of the fuel tank, and limiting CO2 emissions.

    But in the free world, where private buyers can make their own choice rather than be restricted by the bosses in the fleet department, there's often a craving for some different. Something that breaks the mould. Something individual.

    Related: Infiniti Q50 to target fleets

    And in the shape of the Q50 2.0T, Infiniti has found the car which is likely to help accelerate it from the 385 units it sold across the UK last year, to in excess of 800 this year. More than 600 of that total will be Q50s.

    Next year, Infiniti is targeting around 2500 new car sales, boosted by the arrival late in the year of the Sunderland-built Q30 family hatchback. The company is in the process of investing £250 million into the site to accommodate the Q30 build.

    But that's for next year: let's get back to the Q50 2.0T.

    Available only in Premium trim with a seven-speed automatic gearbox; prices start at £31,755 for the Premium spec, which makes it instantly attractive in the sector. To put it into perspective, the current 'best choice' in the Q50 range has been the S Hybrid, but that costs a whopping £8240 more than the 2.0T.

    So far then, so good.

    Powered by its punchy 208bhp, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol injection engine, the 2.0T Sport will set you back £34,125, but it's in good company. Not only is it £145 cheaper than the equivalent diesel Q50s, it also goes head-to-head with the 242bhp BMW 328i M Sport auto; and that costs an extra 195 quid.

    And the Infiniti powerplant is a belter. Despite the fact it's a heavy car — its base is the ageing Nissan FM chassis, which contributes to it being 227kg heavier than a Mercedes C200 — the new single-turbo, aluminium-intensive, direct-injection engine impresses: 0-62mph comes up in 7.2secs, and it'll carry on — where legal — to a max of 152mph.

    Concentrate hard, and you might, just might detect the merest hint of turbo lag. But that's to be hyper critical. The strong, linear power delivery between 2000rpm and the 6500rpm red line will soon have you smiling.

    Related: Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge debut

    And it's smooth … and quiet. Hushed even when you're sitting at 70mph at 4000rpm, the cabin falls near-silent when you shift into fifth or higher.

    Add in the fact the transmission is sublime — especially in Sport mode, where the imperceptible changes remain silky smooth and slick — and it's clear Infiniti has got a huge amount right with the Q50 2.0T Sport.

    Another big positive is the fact the Sport comes with Infiniti's unique steer-by-wire system, paired with a switchable lane-assist function. Ok, you'd probably need to live longer with the car than the three hours I had to experience the full benefit of the latter, but the steering is amazingly precise, requiring minimum input into the wheel to tuck the car into corners.

    On a clear, open, twisting country road in south Oxfordshire, the 2.0T Sport was in its element combining pace and comfort, its double-piston shocks ensuring the ride remained pliant and forgiving. Switching back onto the M4 simply highlighted what a long-distance cruiser the car also is.

    Inside the car, the cabin's well-equipped, ergonomically sound, and neat. And there's plenty of kit, including multifunction leather steering wheel, leather gearshift, leather seat facings, heated front seats with Sport design, and aluminium pedals and footrest. The multimedia pack — which includes satnav — will cost you an extra £2760.

    But if you're in the market for a BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class, there's no question that the Q50 2.0T is worth a test drive. It delivers something different, in a very positive way, and will ensure you stand out from the crowd who flock to German-badged rivals.

    Related: Vertu opens new Infiniti Centre

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    Jim McGill

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £34,125
    Engine / Power: 4 cyl, 1991cc, turbo, petrol / 208bhp
    How fast?: 7.2sec; / Max 152mph
    How big/heavy?: L4790mm W1820mm (excl mirrors) H1445mm / 1692kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 43.5mpg combined / 151g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: n/a / n/a
    Alternatives: Mercedes-Benz C-class, BMW 3 series, Audi A4

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