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[Behind the Wheel] The all-new QX50: An elegant ride powered by a smart turbo engine

The 2017 model of Nissan’s luxury crossover Infiniti QX50 drew frequent comparisons to its rivals, Mercedes-Benz’s GLC and BMW’s X3. 

Mercedes-Benz sold 5,717 GLC vehicles in South Korea in 2018 and BMW sold 2,304 X3s -- far outpacing Nissan, which sold only 27 QX50s so soon after its launch.

But it is too early to say that the Infiniti QX50 is lagging behind, because after a one-year hiatus the all-new QX50 is here, having undergone an impressive transformation. 

The new QX50 differs significantly from the original, as it is equipped with the industry’s first-ever variable-compression engine. The technology is based on a multilink system that automatically controls the range of the engine’s piston for optimized power to improve fuel economy.

The test drive -- 150 kilometers from the Walkerhill Hotel in northeastern Seoul to a resort in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province -- was not long enough to experience every one of the vehicle’s functions, but it still allowed drivers to feel the elegance of driving such a powerful SUV even on a snowy day. 

Infiniti All-new QX50 (Infiniti)
Infiniti All-new QX50 (Infiniti)

Despite the snow, the QX50 drove up and down the road smoothly. The three tested driving modes -- standard, eco and sports -- all felt a little different, but one thing was the same: gentle cruising. (There was no time to experience the fourth mode, personal.)

The new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder VC-Turbo engine provides 272 horsepower and 38.7 kilogram-meters of torque. Infiniti said although the vehicle runs on gasoline, it has the torque and fuel efficiency of a four-cylinder diesel engine.

But what was more impressive was its interior design and spaciousness.

Under the concept of “powerful elegance,” the QX50 features leather and suede for its five-passenger seats. The expanded cargo area and increased leg room added to the sense of spaciousness.

Infiniti All-new QX50 (Infiniti)
Infiniti All-new QX50 (Infiniti)

The price, which starts at 51.9 million won ($46,032) including VAT, makes the QX50 around 10 million won cheaper than its rivals -- an affordable option for drivers seeking a midsize crossover.

By Kim Da-sol (

The Korea Herald ratings

Design: 4 stars
Safety: 4 stars
Fuel economy: 4 stars
Price: 3 stars
Overall: 15/20