In 2019, Infiniti arrived with a second generation of the QX50, its luxury compact sport utility vehicle. Rival of BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, Lexus NX and Acura RDX, the QX50 should bring water to the mill for the Japanese manufacturer.
However, it is not the case. Here is probably why.
A very special engine
When the QX50 was unveiled for sale last year, it was its engine that stole the show. In fact, there is a turbocharged four-cylinder 2L block under the hood. On a planetary scale, it became the first engine to have a variable compression ratio. This can go from 8: 1 for maximum performance to 14: 1 for optimized economy.
The automaker says it combines the power of a turbocharged gasoline engine with the torque and frugality of a diesel-powered engine.
As for the power and torque developed, they amount to 268 horsepower and 280 pound-feet respectively. As is the case with many turbocharged engines, that of the QX50 gives everything it has to give when climbing up in speed.
For those who are reluctant to deal with this engine, know that it works discreetly and that you will probably never realize the variation in the compression ratio. One even comes to wonder what is the real usefulness of such a characteristic … and what will be its reliability in the long term.
A box that handicaps him
If this engine is what one could qualify as good living, it is however unfortunate to note that the continuously variable transmission represents a real handicap. Nissan and Infiniti have been pioneers in the use of this type of box, however, they have not been able to tweak it enough to make it enjoyable.
And that's not to mention its lever. Not very ergonomic, it happened several times during the week of testing that it was placed in position N (neutral) when we were simply trying to adjust the temperature or change the radio! Now, it's not a whim. It’s downright dangerous. It is imperative that the situation be corrected.
With this supposedly revolutionary engine, Infiniti had in particular the ambition to change the industry standards with regard to consumption. Let the numbers speak for themselves. In combined driving, Natural Resources Canada announces a rating of 9.7 L / 100 km. To the nearest tenth, the odds are exactly the same for the Audi Q5 and NX 300. And for the BMW X3? Only 9.2 L / 100 km. So where is the fuel economy? It remained in the minds of engineers.
A sound you can only appreciate
We often refer to the automobile depending on what is available to our view. But rarely from our hearing. However, in the case of the QX50, we are more than served.
Above, it was mentioned that all the action took place when we were in the upper echelons of the engine speed. What's more, at this level, we enjoy a sound worthy of a much more expensive sports vehicle. Although we are not entitled to 6, 8 or even 12 cylinders, Infiniti has made sure that it does not sing like a pan.
At a time when vehicles are gray, drab and soulless, it is very refreshing to see that a manufacturer dares to inject a dose of personality.
One screen is good, but two is worse
For some nebulous reason, there are two screens in the center of the dashboard. On the top one is notably displayed the road map while on the bottom one, we find the functions related to the phone, to the audio as well as to the temperature setting. It would have been more ingenious to focus our efforts on a single screen which would be complete, more intuitive and of better quality.
A brand in sharp decline
If you have the impression that you are seeing fewer Infiniti vehicles on our roads, this is no illusion. Indeed, the Japanese automaker’s sales figures are down significantly, and the latter is much larger than that of the industry as a whole. In Canada, Infiniti recorded a 12.8% decline.
Since it was brand new for 2019, the QX50 is one of the few vehicles of the brand to have seen an increase (22%). However, in absolute data, the 3,515 units sold of this luxury compact SUV rank it far behind its German rivals, despite the fact that it is freshly renewed.
Unfortunately for Infiniti, the formula used with the QX50 is not enough to attract buyers. To succeed in the challenge, it would be necessary to offer a prestige image at least equivalent to that of German rivals and really stand out in certain aspects such as road handling, interior finish or even fuel consumption.