Red Sport is the name Infiniti gives to its highest-performing cars and when it comes to the Q50 it’s definitely the 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 that you want.
Here’s what you need to know when shopping for the 2021 model.
Infiniti is a brand in transition with its final destination planned to be more Nissan+ and less luxury which means rear-wheel drive platforms, longitudinal engines, and geared transmissions might soon be a thing of the past.
So it’s no time to sleep on their only sports sedan that possesses all of those attributes; the Q50 Red Sport 400. I’ve always kind of had a thing for this car and even though it’s not getting any younger, it remains an intriguing alternative. Yes, it requires a suspension of disbelief to think that it’s wholly better than say an M340i for nearly the same price, but if you relish driving something you’re unlikely to encounter another one on your travels – unlike the BMW – then it’s worth entertaining. And one key attraction of the Q50 is its style.
I’m digging this new Slate Gray paint option and the carbon fiber interior trim is also a racy touch that’s been added this year. So even though the Q60 Coupe is the sexy one in the family, this Q50 is still turning heads, and tacking on the optional sport exhaust doesn’t hurt either.
Infiniti likes to include this dealer-installed option on their press cars so I’ve heard it before and it’s a hoot. Without it and there’s virtually no compelling sound. With it and it’s always present – perhaps too much for some – and when you unleash the power in Sport + this car really screams. With 350 pound-feet of torque on-tap the Red Sport 400 can put away 60mph in about 4.5 seconds.
There’s no Direct Adaptive Steering on this particular car – that’s Infiniti’s steer-by-wire system that launched with a thud when this car first hit the market. And because they improved it shortly thereafter, I think I actually miss it here because this EPS setup doesn’t rise to the level of elite sports sedan.
When all-wheel drive isn’t needed, the wider rear wheels get all the power. Combined with Active Trace Control, it enhances the cornering feel but I kind of miss the shenanigans you can have in the 2-wheel drive model. Various driving modes alter the car’s characteristics including those of Infiniti’s Dynamic Digital Suspension with adjustable shock absorbers, lending to a taut ride quality whose dynamic range, by comparison to newer setups, could use a softer, more sophisticated everyday setting. The 7-speed automatic includes downshift rev matching for those sweet sounding blips of the throttle and Adaptive Shift Control which pairs with the navi system to alert the gearbox of the road ahead. Yet, this is my least favorite part of the powertrain.
The Q50 was an all-new entry for the 2014 model year so at this point it’s obviously no longer oven fresh but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. There’s a lot of get and up and go on this menu with copious amounts of sport exhaust on the side. The Zero Gravity seats provide all day comfort and the adjustable suspension allows you to dial up the road feel you’re looking for. Now, I’d prefer mine without AWD because I think it dings this car’s fun-to-drive quotient just a bit but it’s been a good get up here this week where I’ve actually had the chance to check out snow mode. But here are my issues; 1) I don’t’ love this transmission. Either it’s been reprogrammed along the way or it just hasn’t aged well because it feels hesitant to do what you want and 2) these Dunlop performance all-seasons are a poor fit with major tramlining attributes that negatively impact the steering.
They’re loud, too and even though their grip is on point, it’s time for Infiniti to move on from this Sport Maxx tire and find one that offers better balance.
The Q50 offers more passenger and cargo volume than the new 3 Series, as well so there’s that. Mine is up-fitted with USB charge ports in the rear – a place that feels just as comfy as that in the front. A benefit of the car’s age is its simplistic controls – there’s nothing to confuse you here and the dual-screen infotainment setup is easy to work and supports phone projection – just not wirelessly.
It’s an eye-catching interior with gorgeous seats, red stitching, metal speaker grilles for the powerful Bose sound system and matte black carbon fiber. The touchpoints feel legit, as well. And all of the safety goodies come standard and are more easily configurable than they used to be so if there’s something you don’t like – such as lane departure warning – you can kill it while leaving the other features turned on. And you know I love having the around view monitor button right here where it can be quickly accessed.
All told, this one stickers for $63,611 while returning thirsty gas mileage of 22mpg in combined driving on premium.
It’s not going to wow you with the latest bells and whistles, but this Red Sport looks sharp, is exciting to drive and sounds just as fun all the while providing 4 season drivability with room for 4.