Infiniti Q50 In Snow & Winter Driving? (Explained)

Making its debut in 2013, the Q50 is Infiniti’s offering to the small luxury cars segment.

Aside from being stylish, spacious and luxurious, it also features a range of powerful engines capable of belting out 300 horsepower.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at the Q50’s snow and winter performance.

Read on to find out…

Here is the short answer to whether the Infiniti Q50 is good for snow and winter driving:

The Infiniti Q50 is good in light to moderate snow thanks to its available ATTESA AWD and Snow Mode. Equipped with a good set of winter tires this car is almost unstoppable in the snow and features such as 4-Wheel ABS, Vehicle Dynamic Control and Heated Seats combine to make a great winter vehicle.

Is the Q50 Good in the Snow?

The Q50 can easily handle slippery winter conditions when equipped with Infiniti’s Intelligent AWD which gives it significantly better traction and handling in the snow.

The car has no trouble transferring power through the wheels to the ground thanks to the Snow Mode feature which helps prevent wheel spins by reducing throttle sensitivty.

Despite its sporty demeanor, it has a decent ground clearance at 4.9 inches which is on par with other 4-door sedans and more than enough for snow-covered parking lots and driveways.

The Q50 may have a lower ride height than an SUV, but this gives the car a lower center of gravity which translates to better handling.

It’s much easier to control going round corners and is less likely to roll over in the event of an accident.

It’s also lighter than a typical SUV which makes it easier to slow down and come to a complete stop when driving over snow and ice.

If you are likely to encounter more extreme levels of snow then an SUV or Crossover may be better suited to your needs due to the increased ground clearance they offer.

The Rear-Wheel Drive versions however are less capable in the snow.

They will have more difficulty accelerating on icy roads and are more prone to fishtailing and sliding due to the lack of weight over the driven wheels.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the features that make the Infiniti Q50 a solid winter vehicle. 

Please note not all these features are fitted as standard and are not a substitute for safe driving practices.

ATTESA Intelligent All-Wheel Drive

Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan first used the Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All-Terrain (ATTESA) AWD system in early versions of the Nissan Skyline GT-R. 

Available on the Q50 the ATTESA AWD is racing inspired and is the key component that makes this car an all-weather winter rallying machine.

In normal driving conditions, the Q50 sends 100% of its power to the rear wheels. 

When it senses that you need more grip, it will automatically redirect up to 50% of the power to the front wheels.

With all four wheels turning, you’ll get more traction, less tire slippage and better acceleration on slick surfaces.

Vehicle Dynamic Control

Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) is a form of Stability Control and is designed to improve the stability of the vehicle by detecting and reducing loss of traction. 

The system uses various sensors to constantly monitor:

  • Steering wheel position
  • Wheel speed 
  • Lateral acceleration
  • Vehicle direction

During the winter drivers are more likely to understeer and oversteer due to the slippery road conditions.

When the computer detects that you’re about to skid or lose control, it will strategically apply the brakes to each wheel and cut engine power.

VDC is able to detect the placement of the vehicle in conjunction with the road and adjust the turning rate in order to direct it down the proper path.

Drive Mode Selector

The Q50 has several drive modes to choose from which changes the vehicle’s driving characteristics. 

  • Standard
  • Sport
  • Eco
  • Personal
  • Snow

Snow mode makes the throttle response less sensitive to help reduce the occurrence of wheelspin on snow and ice-covered roads.

Every time the car is started, it automatically defaults to the Standard mode, so you have to remember to switch it back to Snow mode when driving in the winter.

4-Wheel Anti-Lock Braking System

During hard braking or on slippery surfaces, a driver may apply a braking force that is greater than the tires capacity to grip.

If this happens the wheels can ‘lock up’, causing the vehicle to skid out of control.

By preventing this lock-up the vehicle stops sooner and remains under the driver’s control.

The 4-Wheel ABS system on the Q50 does this by releasing and then reapplying or ‘pumping’ the brakes, 100’s of times a second.

Sensors on each wheel are used to detect ‘locking’.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

EBD ensures the right amount of brake force is applied to each wheel, this helps significantly reduce the risk of:

  • Brake lock-up
  • Fishtailing
  • Skidding

Since braking is more effective on vehicles with EBD, you will also notice a reduction in stopping distance.

You may also be interested in our article: Mercedes C300 in Snow & Winer Driving

Forward Emergency Braking & Intelligent Brake Assist

Rear end collisions are the most common type of traffic accident and are even more prevalent during the winter.

Using radar emitted from the front of the car, Intelligent Brake Assist warns the driver if they are late taking avoidance action by sounding a warning.

Should the driver still not respond the Forward Emergency Braking system automatically activates the brakes to reduce the severity of the incident.

Heated Seats, Steering Wheel and Side Mirrors

All Q50s come with heated side mirrors as standard.

This improves visibility in really cold weather by keeping the mirrors from fogging up.

Depending on the model year and trim level, the Q50 can also be equipped with heated seats and a heated steering wheel designed to keep you nice and warm in sub-zero conditions.

Traction Control

Traction Control helps your wheels grip the road better by preventing wheelspin when driving on slippery surfaces.

When the system detects that the wheels are ‘over-spinning’, it will automatically apply the brakes and limit engine power.

It is most effective when:

  • Accelerating from a stationary or slowed position
  • When trying to accelerate up a slippery hill

If stuck in snow or mud the traction control can be disabled at the press of a button, you’ll also want to disable it if you install tire chains.

Remote Start

Remote Start can be added as an option on all Q50s. 

It lets you start the engine and heat up the cabin before you get in the car. 

It can also thaw out a stuck door if the vehicle has been outside in extreme cold for a while. 

Does the Infiniti Q50 Have Snow Mode?

The Infiniti Q50 has a Snow Mode which you can enable using the Drive Mode Selector.

Snow Mode makes the throttle response less sensitive which helps minimize wheelspin.

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Infiniti Q50 Last?

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on an Infiniti Q50?

The Q50 can be fitted with additional gear to suit your winter needs, including:

  • Snow tires
  • Snow socks
  • Tire chains
  • Snowboard rack
  • Studded tires
  • Engine block heater

Tire chains should not be installed on Q50s that use 265-section rear tires because the chains can rub and damage the inner wheel wells with the limited clearance that’s available. 

You’ll have to swap out the tires and/or wheels if you really need to use tire chains if your Q50 is equipped with these wider rear tires.

For most situations though, a set of studded snow tires is more than enough.

How Much Snow Can a Q50 Handle?

The Infiniti Q50s ground clearance isn’t particularly high at 4.9 inches.

As such it’s going to have trouble with over 6 inches of snow for prolonged periods of driving.

We recommend avoiding places with more than 4 to 5 inches of snow. 

This will reduce your risk of:

  • Getting stuck
  • Damaging the bumper
  • Damaging the undercarriage

How Does the Infiniti Q50 Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

The different engines used in the Q50 across its many model years are all very reliable units and should have no trouble running in freezing temperatures.

To make sure the Q50 performs flawlessly in extreme winter temperatures, here are a few things you can do:

  • Use cold weather-rated engine oil and antifreeze
  • Install an engine block heater
  • Avoid leaving it outside in the cold for long periods of time
  • Connect it to a battery tender when it’s in the garage
  • Get the remote start option
  • Clean out any corrosion that forms on the battery terminals 

You may also be interested in our article: Acura TLX in Snow & Winter Driving

Can an Infiniti Q50 Drive on Ice?

The Q50 can drive on ice reasonably well thanks to its advanced AWD and traction control systems. The addition of studded tires will provide the best traction for such conditions.

When driving on ice you should be extra cautious: avoid harsh braking and acceleration or aggressive steering; reduce your speed smoothly and use brakes gently.

Keep in mind that stopping distances can be ten times longer when driving on ice.

When driving on ice and snow, take it slow.

What About Older Q50 Models And Winter Driving?

The Infiniti Q50 is still in its first generation so even older models dating back to 2014 have the same AWD system and a lot of the driver aids that are available in the current models.

The 3.7 liter naturally aspirated engine of the 2014 and 2015 models are very reliable units. 

If you’re looking at a used Q50 these should have no problems coping with snow and ice as long as they’re equipped with AWD.

Do Infiniti Q50s Need Snow Tires?

If you only have to deal with a handful of light snow days in the winter, you can keep using the Q50’s stock all-season tires all year long.

For harsher winters though, you’ll definitely need to equip your car with a good set of winter tires.

Winter tires are proven to significantly improve handling and stopping distances in winter driving conditions.

  • The compound is made to grip the road better in lower temperatures as it remains soft and flexible in cold weather.
  • The tread pattern is designed to push the snow out from underneath the tire.

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on a Q50?

Fitting a snow plow on an Infiniti Q50 is not recommended. 

It sits quite low to the ground so it will have trouble with very deep snow.

Plowing snow will also put a lot of strain on the transmission and AWD system and decrease its lifespan.

Even if you manage to find a snow plow that can fit on a sedan, you’ll likely damage your bumper and various body panels and will likely invalidate the vehicle’s warranty.



  • Ian Sawyer

    Growing up with a father who was a mechanic I had an appreciation for cars and motorcycles from an early age. I shared my first bike with my brother that had little more than a 40cc engine but it opened up a world of excitement for me, I was hooked. As I grew older I progressed onto bigger bikes and...