If I told you Infiniti had both raised the price of the Q50 sports sedan by $2,400 and replaced its award-winning, 328-horsepower, naturally aspirated 3.7L V6 with a 208-horsepower, 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder, you might think they’d lost all reason, but fortunately there’s much more to the story.
First, all-wheel drive is now standard, which makes the new $39,900 base Q50 2.0t $50 less expensive than the outgoing AWD model. Second, the new 4-cylinder packs 258 lb-ft of torque from just 1,500 rpm while achieving 10.6L/100km city and 8.4L/100km highway compared to the old V6’s 12.5 and 8.7 ratings.
Even better, a completely new 3.0L twin-turbo V6 hits the ground running in two states of trim, the first using less fuel than the outgoing model at 12.3L/100km city and 8.5L/100km highway while producing a competitive 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and the second only increasing highway mileage to 9.1L/100km while dishing out 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. These last figures were enough to get my heart racing faster than anything this side of an M, AMG, RS, F or V-branded super sedan. Infiniti is not yet playing in the ultra-high-performance league albeit making a good argument for stepping up with its long-anticipated Eau Rouge Concept.
Styling that gets the blood flowing
Could this be the son of Eau Rouge? Whether or not that sizzling hot concept gets built is now mostly water under the bridge (Spa-Francorchamps fans need only comment) thanks to the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD, a subtler yet still alluring road car that even gets the blood flowing before climbing inside.
It starts off with a Q50 that’s already sensational in base trim, yet much more menacing with its new frowning front fascia replete with glossy black bezels around its daytime running lights and LED fog lights, gorgeous dark grey alloy wheels, a tasteful rear spoiler atop the trunk lid, and a sweet set of stainless pipes poking through the rear valance. It’s hardly a departure from lesser Q50s, but it’s no styling ruse either.
Power that makes daily stress disappear
Have you ever experienced 400 horsepower before, let alone in a compact sedan? Sure, at 1,839 kilos (4,054 lbs) the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD isn’t exactly the leanest in its premium class, but the twin-turbo V6 makes light duty of any excess baggage literally and metaphorically; you’ll forget all your cares within 4.8 seconds to 100 km/h.
That’s bloody quick, by the way, but the car wouldn’t go anywhere without Infiniti’s ultra-engaging, magnesium paddle-actuated, 7-speed autobox with navigation-synchronized adaptive shift control and downshift rev-matching technology snapping swiftly through the gears when the Drive Mode selector is suitably toggled to Sport (there’s an Eco mode, too… yah, whatever).
All four wheels and 245/40RF19 tires are locked onto tarmac at takeoff, and Infiniti’s sport-tuned Dynamic Digital Suspension with electronically controlled dampers takes care of squat before the brilliantly responsive, quick-ratio Direct Adaptive Steering joins in to slice through S-curves. Active Trace Control modulates the brakes and engine torque to enhance feel in corners, and said DDS minimizes nosedive when the big 4-piston calipers bite the 14” front and 13.8” rear discs.
This just might be the ultimate sleeper among luxury sedans.
Subtlety that speaks loud
Those aforementioned M, AMG, RS, F, and V super sedans might as well honk and give the royal salute to patrol officers as they blast past, the powers that control the roads suspicious even if drivers maintain the posted limit. Dressed in Aspen Pearl white, the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD flies under the radar in comparison.
Other than the rush to the head and the need for its body-hugging seat bolsters, Red Sport passengers won’t be overwhelmed with over-the-top, go-fast interior styling, either, as this hyper model delivers the same rich opulence as regular Q50s. Sure, there are aluminum pedals underfoot, but the inlays aren’t racy carbon fibre, just the usual beautiful glossy hardwood as in other Q50 trims. Meanwhile, Infiniti doesn’t even blacken the fabric-wrapped pillars and headliner, so in vogue with performance models. The leather upholstery isn’t enhanced with fake suede, either; they’re merely perforated hides to allow for a little extra grip and better ventilation. The seats are fabulously supportive with powered thigh extenders no less.
Equipment that pleases and comforts
The steering upgrade I mentioned a moment ago comes as part of a $3,800 Technology package that also adds auto-levelling and adaptive cornering headlights with auto high beams, adaptive cruise control with full-speed range and distance control assist, lane departure warning, blind spot intervention, pre-crash seat belts, the dreaded Eco Pedal that forcefully resists right foot enthusiasm, and those genuine maple inlays also noted earlier.
Just the same I should mention the Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD’s standard equipment list that includes auto on/off LED headlights, LED taillights, a power moonroof, remote start, proximity access with push-button ignition, auto-dimming interior and side mirrors with reverse tilt-down, a universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone automatic HVAC, a power tilt and telescopic steering column, heated seats and steering wheel, a 14-speaker Bose audio system with satellite radio, navigation, SMS text capability, a 360-degree camera, a front and rear parking sonar, blind spot warning with back-up collision intervention, plus predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking.
Controls and technology that impress
It all comes in an interior that’s a cut above most rivals, at least in some respects. Infiniti’s switchgear has always been second to none, and the new Q50 doesn’t disappoint: Soft-touch materials even cover the glove box, although not the lower doors like some others in this class. I suppose my only disappointment would be the somewhat shapeless steering wheel that wasn’t sporty enough for such a blisteringly quick car, which is strange when you recall that Infiniti’s mainstream volume brand, Nissan, fastens a thick, flat-bottomed wheel with thumb spats to its Maxima SR.
Like the steering wheel, the rest of the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD’s cabin gets filled with features found in lesser trims including bright and clear purple-tinted, electroluminescent primary gauges with a large and useful colour multi-information display in the middle, a much larger dual display infotainment setup on the centre stack (the 8” top monitor for the 360-degree camera; the bottom 7” touchscreen for adding nav info, adjusting the radio and HVAC settings, synchronizing your phone), and a rotating knob on the lower console to control the navigation system’s map display and other functions. The display quality is high in resolution, graphics good, colours rich, and contrast deep, while it performed functions quickly and well.
As with all Q50s, roominess is good front to back. The rear seats in this Red Sport model are particularly nice thanks to excellent lower back support, while trunk space is about average for the class at 382 litres. There’s a centre pass-through or 60/40 split-folding seatbacks if longer items need loading. It’s good to know your super sports sedan is still practical, right?
The new 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD loses nothing in its transformation from luxury to peak performance, although this ultra-quick Japanese is designed for a more mature adrenaline junkie than the majority of its super sedan competitors ― the type of well-established luxury buyer who doesn’t want to attract too much attention when testing the limit of their personal driving skills.
The fact that it’s priced at only $54,600 ― about $20k less than any previously mentioned rival ― makes the Q50 Red Sport 400 the kind of go-fast value proposition we’ve long come to expect from Infiniti.