There’s a plethora of luxury hybrids on the market as of August 2015 as there’s definitely a market for them, including Lexus, Lincoln, BMW, Audi, Porsche, etc., never mind the non-luxury market. There’s a line that divides the “cheers vs jeers” for the hybrid market with strong arguments for both. Me? I’m for them.
Given the push for alternate fuel solutions, reducing fuel consumption and having earth remain some shade of green, hybrid vehicles aren’t going away soon, or at all for that matter. At least not in my mind.
Kinda like when the CD player came out. Music enthusiasts said it’d never catch on and that the good ol’ cassette would stay strong. Or when the record playing folks said cassettes would be a blip and then fade away. While hybrid technology isn’t at all perfect (come on, it’s relatively new in a century-plus old industry), progress is being made with each new market offering.
The Infiniti Q50 hybrid shares the bold and beautiful, flowing looks of its gasoline engine sister but as is obvious, beneath the hood is where they separate. Powering this car is a 3.5 litre V6 motor producing 360 horsepower and includes a 50 kW electric motor. I’ve found that in most cases, hybrid versions lack a bit of “oomph” off the line because after decades of gasoline engines powering cars, having something different which includes a battery doesn’t give it the exact same feel. But as hybrid technology advances, so will the ability (I hope) to give a gasoline feel to a hybrid car.
The drive quality of the Q50 hybrid is exactly what you’d expect of Nissan’s luxury division: smooth, responsive, accurate, delightful and comfortable. It’s not a mirror image of the gasoline Q50 but for nearly all of it, there are parallel lines. And those lines are full of technology, power (32 more than the gas ones), luxury, safety and all around driving pleasure.
There’s the same beautiful dual stacked centre console and the dashboard is built around two large, simply elegant gauges, centered by an information screen for easy to read and understand information.
Fuel economy wise, the hybrid ratings are 8.7 city and 7.5 highway. The gas ratings are as low as 12 city and 8 highway. What I see is that the hybrid is better for toting in urban settings as the highway ratings are similar. Then again, that figure will move depending if your right foot is made from lead or feathers.
Price wise, the entry level Q50 gas version starts at $37,500 and maxes out at $48,950 (rear wheel drive and a ton of other goodies). The Q50 hybrid list price is $49,500, which is an even $12,000 difference from the entry level Q50. Yes it comes with more horsepower and that lithium ion batteries aren’t free. I realize that there’s a cost for new technology and that auto engineers around the globe are working on improving it. I just wonder if technology will advance fast enough for it to allow for a slight price reduction for hybrid vehicles.
Infiniti says they’re choosing a sustainable resource over a larger engine to balance power and efficiency. And if that’s the case, I’m on board for that.
Over in the Americas, the Lincoln MKX’s difference in starting price for its gas vs hybrid is a measly $44. It’s not quite an apples to apples comparison but it’s definitely fruits from the same farm.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking shots at Infiniti. I like what they’ve done lately and embrace their three hybrid models in the line-up (Q50, Q70, QX60). I’m only laying out some preliminary financial figures for the reader, that’s all. There’s still plenty of excitement behind the wheel. There’s a beautifully crafted interior with plush leather, a fluid design throughout and class all around.
The Q50 also boasts a world first; “Direct Adaptive Steering”, where the driver is given “a more precise feeling behind the wheel…over uneven roads and shielding the driver from excessive road vibrations”.
I can tell you that the Q50’s handling is pretty damn sharp and responsive from my week in both an urban and rural setting.
While hybrid technology in the automotive world still has many laps to go, it has certainly come a long way from its infancy to where we are today. Expect better fuel economy, stronger and lighter in weight batteries to maximize the power to weight ratio, to have a nearly identical feel between gas and hybrids on the road and so much more. Infiniti’s Q50 hybrid model is a great offering in the world of today’s luxury hybrid market and should only get better with age.
Just like me.