I have not used a rental service in quite a long time, and evidently they have changed a lot. I had the opportunity to try out Shift Car Rental in Dubai after hearing of competitive pricing and new paperless applications – I am all for paperless processing!
The weapon of the week was the Infiniti Q50, which I had not reviewed yet. So, two birds. One stone.
Shift Car Rental
I had not heard of Shift Car Rental before but it is the sister company of Arabian Automobiles, which is the official dealership of Nissan, Infiniti and Renault in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. It comes with no surprise that the majority of the rental fleet are Nissan based.
Their new paperless system allows for a complete paper-free rental experience.
With this tablet application, they are able to register clients completely, select vehicles, inspect vehicles and even get customers to sign the agreement on the screen.
The application caters for all the typical documentation and requirements as before, just on the tablet.
The Infiniti Q50 basics
The Q50 is the new name for the Infiniti G35/37 series, but remains in the same small sized sedan competing with the 3-Series, A4 and C-Class.
The Q50 comes with a choice of two engines, a premium 2 litre turbocharged v4 engine with 208 horsepower and 350 nm of toruq good for an estimated combined fuel economy of 6.3l/100km.
It comes with an array of comfort, tech and safety features pitching this car as a very pleasant car to own and to use on a daily basis for a small family.
The tested vehicle was a mid-range Q50 with leather seats, all the basic tech in a White & Beige combo – typically the standard color of the region. The updated body, interior, tech and engine takes a new departure from the old G-Class but the test is to see if it is any good!
I passed by the Shift Car Rental, got them to start my request and within a few minutes the car was outside and the representative powered up his tablet.
After the initial documentation was done on the tablet, it was time to outside and inspect the car. Thankfully for me, it was a brand new model, fresh out of the dealership with 18 kms on the clock! I don’t think I had ever picked up a car with that low mileage!
I took a look around the car while he continued setting up the booking on his tablet. He basically was inputting all the car’s current details such has model, mileage, etc.
One last step before driving off was taking pictures of the car. This would help in case I came back with a scratch claiming it wasn’t me!
After inspecting the car, marking any bumps or scrapes, taking some photographs and signing, I was ready to experience the all-new Infiniti Q50!
The Infiniti Q50 on the outside
The Q50 is a handsome looking car. It does not have any ultra-modern design cues but is certainly a handsome Japanese sedan. If I were to guess what an Infiniti would look like, this would pretty much be it.
What I liked on the Q50’s exterior:
- The LED headlights – They were ultra-bright, excellent range and coupled with an side high-beams, also LED, meant that the car was a stunner at night and also offered great visibility
- Understated looks – Some people like big and flashy, some like things understated. A small sized sedan isn’t usually one to be shouty and brash – unless it is a high performance machine.
- Size – It was easy to place, park and fit in tight spots – great for driving around town especially with 360 parking sensors
What I did not like on the Q50’s exterior:
- The rear – It looked too understated. At night, the lights helped a lot but during the day it was a tad boring
The Infiniti Q50 on the inside
This is where an owner will spend majority of his/her time, and thankfully, the Q50 does not disappoint on the surface, but after a week, I got a deeper look.
The driver’s seat is definitely a lovely place to be in. The interior feels like a cockpit focused on the driver which gives it a bit of a sporty look.
What I liked on the Q50’s interior:
- Look – The cabin looks modern, sleek, everything is soft touch and the materials used seemed to be of good quality
- Tech – Dual screens and driver instrument panel all seem to be modern with plenty of options. The lower dash screen is the main control screen with plenty of useful apps
- Comfort – Infiniti talks a lot about comfort, and the Q50 is just that, very comfortable. Long drivers in this would be a breeze
- Quiet cabin – While parked or on the move, the car feels build solid enough that very minimal noise actually gets in. Infiniti states there is noise cancelling tech build into the Q50, but not certain if it was on this mid-range model
The lower screen on the Infiniti Q50 is where everything is controlled along with a series of apps. This looks and feels like a little mini-tablet right in your dashboard.
What I did not like on the Q50’s interior:
- Mid-range – The model tested was mid-range and I think this model should have features for the money. Blindspot monitoring should at least be standard in 2015. Rear view camera was alright but could be better. There was no sunroof either.
- Rear seats – If the front seats are not all the way back, the rear occupants have decent room but with the front seats in position for a tall person, rear passengers have very little leg room. Decent headroom though:
- Heated Seats – We are in Dubai, the reason why the Infiniti offered all 4 heated seats did not make much sense. I rather front cooled seats.
- The top screen – Although cool having dual screens, the top screen was rather pointless as it only offered two screens fuel economy and audio source:
- The bottom screen – Although the star of the show, during the day time, the purple coating made it quite hard to see at times
Shift Car Rental Switch
Half way through my week, I decided to switch the car and see how it went.
This time, they simply asked me where I was going to be and that they would be sending the replacement to me, which was very convenient. Fortunately for me, they sent an identical Q50, so the review continues!
The entire process was done in a mere 5 minutes, and the steps was fairly the same as last time. The representative inspected the car, entered all his notes on the tablet and took photos of the replacement. I was on my way in no time!
Driving the Infiniti Q50
This is where I probably had quite a bit to say as the car left me with mixed feelings.
The car is a comfortable, smooth and quiet cruiser, which is great for everyday use. Specifically for people who are not into cars. Aside from the good brakes, I found it lacking.
For the more enthusiastic car fan, the Q50 does let down in quite a few departments:
- The power – yes, this is not the sportier version, but the 2.0 turbo has significant lag at times. Once on a roll, especially in sport mode, it is great and sufficient for city driving but when it isn’t in sport there are times of lag in power delivery
- The steering – It is a bit vague, it turns the wheels like it is supposed to, but it doesn’t do it with precision. You’re not always 100% sure you turned enough and at times you can turn more than you wanted and in both cases, have to correct your steering
- Handling – It is weak, surprisingly this was inspired by Sebastian Vettel, but I can hardly see any influence from a Formula 1 driver. Corners decently but with the steering, power delivery and gearbox, handling leaves you asking for more, much more from Infiniti.
- Economy – The car is rated at a combined 6.3l/km. The first Q50 I had returned 11.2, while the second returned 10.3. The fuel range on the Q50 is actually really good, but going for 6.3l/km was not going to be possible.
After one week with the Infiniti Q50, I was extremely satisfied with the service Shift Car Rental had offered (They even came and picked up the car after I was done) and all without any papers. As for the car, I actually liked the refined, understated and calm personality it had. I surely believe this would be a very good family car for every day use and does seem like it is quite durable, but if you want to have a fun drive back home, the Q50 won’t be the one.
For more information on Shift Car Rental, you can visit their website www.shiftcarrental.com or their social media on: