Because the 2016 Infiniti Q50 doesn't have as much brand recognition or deep-pocketed marketing backing it as its German competitors, you might overlook the Q50 if you're in the market for a small luxury sport sedan. It would be a mistake to do so, though, as few rivals can match the Q50's high-quality interior, sensational handling and powerful engines at its price point. For 2016, the Q50 gets a multitude of changes that make it easier to recommend than ever before.
The most attention-grabbing change is the introduction of three new engines, all of which are turbocharged. The Q50 will finally be available with a four-cylinder engine, which will likely lower the price of entry to the brand and keep the Q50 competitive for maximum fuel economy. The standard turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 makes slightly less horsepower than the Q50's previous naturally aspirated 3.7-liter engine, but promises better fuel economy and perhaps quicker acceleration thanks to its enhanced torque output. Infiniti seems to be happy with the warm reception its Eau Rouge concept received, as the Q50 can now be ordered with a high-output V6. The Q50 Red Sport 400 isn't stuffed with the heart of the Nissan GT-R (as on the Eau Rouge), but the Q50's 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque is more than rivals make without being a full-fledged sports variant like a BMW M3.
The 2016 Q50's refinements aren't limited to engine choices. One major change is to Infiniti's highly touted Direct Adaptive Steering system, which we have found unnerving in the past. With DAS, the steering wheel isn't connected to the wheels at all, instead relying on a number of sensors to translate steering input to wheel direction. In prior testing, we found the system was easily confused in corners and produced unpredictable vehicular movements. Infiniti promises the revised system offers greater steering wheel feedback, along with a set of selectable steering modes, however.
Rounding out the list of dynamic upgrades are driver-adjustable suspension dampers, available in certain V6 models. In earlier Q50s, we found the combination of a sport suspension and run-flat tires to be unnecessarily harsh for this type of car. The new adjustable setup allows drivers to tailor the ride to their tastes, from a comfort-oriented normal setting to the corner-happy Sport+ mode.
The 2016 Infiniti Q50's myriad improvements help make it one of the more compelling entries in the compact luxury sedan class. However, there are a few very strong competitors also worth your consideration. The sporty 2016 BMW 3 Series is available with several engines that range from an economical diesel to a powerful turbocharged six-cylinder. For prestige, it's hard to beat the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which boasts an impeccably trimmed cabin. There's also the 2016 Cadillac ATS for maximum handling thrills or the 2016 Acura TLX if you want a more understated approach to luxury and performance. Overall, though, we think the revised Q50 is a worthy pick for the small luxury sedan class.