2014 Infiniti Q50 First Drive Review: Introduction
What you see here is a catalyst for change. The 2014 Infiniti Q50 is the first of the luxury automaker’s new lineup of Q-badged vehicles to go on sale, and is, essentially, the replacement for Infiniti’s best-selling model in the U.S., the G37. This car’s arrival in showrooms heralds change not just for American luxury sport sedan buyers, but also for Infiniti as a global brand. It represents the fulcrum upon which Infiniti will pivot from its current position as a regional premium nameplate to its future position as a true luxury and performance brand known and revered all around the world.
That’s the plan, anyway.
Before we talk about the new 2014 Q50, allow me to set the stage. The short story is that Infiniti’s parent company Nissan wants to grow, and it wants Infiniti to go head-to-head with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the luxury-class heavy hitters. To make that happen, Infiniti hired Johan de Nysschen away from Audi, where, over time, he successfully made the quad-ringed brand a serious thorn in the sides of other German automakers.
If you know Audi naming conventions, then you can understand why the entire Infiniti lineup is moving away from its current alphanumeric strategy and adopting a more consistent mix of letters and numbers. Starting in 2014, Infiniti cars will carry a “Q” designation and Infiniti SUVs will carry a “QX” designation, each followed by a number indicating the model’s position within the hierarchy. Sound familiar to Audi?
The exception to these new naming rules is forced by competition. Luxury, however you define it, can now be had for less than $30,000 in the form of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, a very small but very stylish new model for which many traditional luxury features are optional. BMW is countering the CLA-Class with a discounted 320i model. If you’re Infiniti, and your least expensive car starts at around $37,000, and your new 2016 Q30 entry-luxury competitor is still a couple of years away, what do you do?
You keep selling your old G37 Sedan, but at a lower price. And because the G37 Sedan is slated to remain in the mix until mid-2015, when the new Q30 arrives, Infiniti says the Q50 is not a direct replacement for it.