What’s the oldest looking new car on sale in America? Not the oldest car, mind you, but the oldest looking one? The kind of car you find yourself following on the highway, thinking “that’s in really excellent condition for such an old Sequoia, its owner must be really dedicated,” before you realize Toyota still sells the thing and the one you’re behind probably rolled off the lot two months ago.
The Infiniti Q50 would be a very good answer to this question. It’s old but not that old; there are more ancient cars still on sale today, like the GMC Savana. But the Q50 looked about five years out of style at the time it entered production in 2013, so that hasn’t helped things. Our old friend Patrick George reviewed one when it launched, calling the interior “maybe too conservative” and questioning whether it had a soul.
The Q50 is inexplicably still on sale today, and I know this because Infiniti has just put out a press release about the 2022 edition. As far as I can tell, the only significant upgrades for the new model year are the inclusion of wireless Apple CarPlay and the Bose Performance Series audio system being standard on every trim level. That’s it.
From the outside, the Q50 looks exactly the same as it did last year, which is exactly the same as it has for eight years now. Usually cars receive a midcycle refresh halfway through a generational lifespan, tweaking a fascia or headlight cluster or grille or something to at least look a little different than it used to, if not more modern. A nip here or tuck there that breaks familiarity. Infiniti has never done this with the Q50.
Again, if the Q50 wasn’t remarkably generic from the start, this might be acceptable. I’m reminded of this bit from Raph’s review of the almost-good Q50 Red Sport from three years ago:
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport is the most powerful trim of Infiniti’s compact upmarket sedan. In theory, Infiniti is targeting Nissan buyers trying to work their way into a more premium brand, while also offering something that gets mentioned alongside the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi S4.
Except I’ve driven a Nissan Maxima with nicer interior features than the Q50, and all of the German offerings were already better overall, or were quickly replaced with better, with a new Mercedes C-Class in 2015, a new Audi A4 in 2016, and the new BMW 3 Series is just around the corner.
That leaves the Infiniti feeling like a great used car deal that’s old enough to have lost a lot of its value, except it’s still the brand new show floor model asking north of $50,000.
The bit about the Maxima having a nicer cabin than the Q50 is particularly damning. I haven’t sat in either, mind you, but just look at the images:
Neither looks phenomenal, but you could Photoshop the Infiniti insignia off the steering wheel in that top image and convince me I’m looking at the dash of the 2008 Toyota Venza that I Uber’d in last weekend. The Maxima is pretty dated too, but the flatter and wider center stack, red leather option and diamond texture motif in the seat cushions and above the glove box count for something. The Q50's interior comes in grays, whites and blacks — the only pop of color, if you could even call it that, is “Saddle Brown.” It looks as old as it sounds.
It’s all the more glaring when you browse Nissan’s car lineup, where the oldest model is the Maxima. The company’s updated all of its sedans in the last five years, and actually upped its game to some degree. I maintain that the Sentra, which I have driven, is nicer than anyone gives it credit for. Coming out with new sedans is a thankless job these days, but Nissan’s kept at it, while also letting the Q50 and Q60 languish. At least the Q60 is still more of a looker, though.
Will the Q50 ever be truly replaced? That seems touch and go in the wake of a disheartening rumor about the Skyline’s future from Japan’s Best Car. It’s thought Nissan could wind up selling the QX55 crossover as the Skyline in its domestic market, which sounds deeply wrong. If the Q50 and Q60 are to die soon, it’d be nice to see them at least go out with a bang. Perhaps it’s not too late to resurrect the Project Black S?