The Red Sport 400 comes with a throaty, 3.0L, twin-turbo VR30DDTT engine.
“Sweet Christmas, that’s a gorgeous red”, I thought to myself as I approached the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. Clad in a jaw dropping “Dynamic Sunstone Red”, this car will certainly elicit looks for the color alone. Oddly enough, Infiniti’s website still lets you pick other colors should you want to buy one, but one look at this red in person and you’d be branding any other color as a heresy to this car. Matching the rest of the body are the Infiniti branded, four piston red calipers peeking out of the gunmetal 19” aluminum alloy wheels.
The body is beautifully flowing and smooth from head to tail with the only peaks being the side edges of the hood to denote the ends of the car from the driver’s perspective. As with the trend nowadays, the headlights shape an aggressive frown as they join with the single large front grille emblazoned with the Infiniti logo. Paint job aside, the car has a very understated look which belies the true nature of this vehicle.
As you open the door, you’ll notice that the heated leather seats have lovely quilted bolsters and though they are superficial since they don’t really offer any performance or comfort increase, they are a welcome change to flat leather. The red theme continues with bright red stitching running along the edges of the seat, the center armrest and the inside of the steering wheel. Sadly, it does not continue along the door side wall which are instead clad with black soft touch plastics with chrome accents and a wonderfully comfortable leather elbow pad. My only gripe is that the wheel itself seems a little thin – a slightly thicker wheel would’ve been much more appropriate to match this car’s capabilities.
In front of you, the dash is clean and simple with two analog dials for speed and engine revolutions. Nestled in between is the standard Infiniti LCD screen in portrait layout to display your typical car information such as fuel economy, audio information, etc. Door controls are ergonomically placed on the door side and well laid out. Infiniti’s double-stacked LCD displays almost dominate the enter center console and is a mixed bag. The top screen, whilst clearly visible in all conditions and is used primarily for the built in GPS navigation system, clearly seems to be a lower resolution than the bottom screen. Both are touch screens but have different finishes on the screen: top is a matte finish whereas the bottom is a smooth glossy finish – making for a jarring transition.
The lower screen provides access to all the audio, climate controls, driving mode configurator and the Infiniti App selections. At best, I found this system clunky as tries to mimic a cell phone OS, which can be confusing. There are three shortcuts at the bottom of the screen to access the core basics: audio, climate control and the home button. Bluetooth audio is standard and whilst there is no direct Apple Carplay or Android Auto support, Infiniti forces you to download their Infiniti InTouch app as a gateway between phone to system. I found this system very awkward and difficult to use and just wound up resorting to the Bluetooth audio which worked easily and well. Infiniti also offers classic climate control buttons on either side of the screen for both the driver and passenger
Sightlines from the driver’s seat are quite good even with the rather thick B-pillar. This tester came equipped with Infiniti’s “Technology Package” which includes 360 camera view, distance control assist, lane departure and a blind spot warning system. The lane departure system is exactly that: it will only kick in at the last minute when you are literally about to veer off the lane markers and even then, it will just nudge the wheel in a buzzing fashion to bring you back from the edge. Comparatively, this system feels weak to the rest of the competition due to the lack of refinement in the correction dynamics.
Where the Q50 really shines is in its practicality – the rear seats are very comfortable for two full size adults even with a 5’10 driver in front. You could squeeze a third person in the back but the center seat is not as well padded and there is a bit of a centre line hump. Headroom is adequate from front to back. Pop the trunk open and an enormous 382L flat and low trunk greets you. The space is very usable thanks to it being free of any odd intrusions into the space and a very pleasant surprise given that normally all wheel drivetrains occupy a lot of space above the rear axles. A slight downside is that road noise is oddly high for this kind of vehicle.
The Q50 Red Sport 400 comes with a throaty 3.0L twin-turbo VR30DDTT engine which pushes out a staggering 400 horsepower at 6400RPM whilst lashing out 350 lb-ft. of torque from 1,600 to 5,200RPM. This Red Sport can launch all 4,054 pounds of itself from a standstill to 100 km/h in about 5.2 seconds. Coupled to that juicy engine is a smooth shifting seven-speed automatic putting down power to all four wheels. Though it does offer a manual shift mode via the use of the wheel mounted, solid magnesium paddle shifters, I found the automatic mode shifting quite adequate everywhere. The suspension on the vehicle is designed brilliantly to mask the weight of the vehicle; something that seems to be Infiniti’s forte.
Body roll is there but is very progressive and minimal and dive action on braking is pleasantly little. Hit an on-ramp or a twisty road and this car will chuck all its weight around fairly confidently whilst bringing a grin to your face. Thanks to the AWD system coupled with Infiniti’s “Active Trace Control”, finding traction out of corners is easy and seemingly plentiful even in less than ideal conditions with the best part is that it feels more like a rear drive vehicle. The traction control system is a fairly laid-back nanny allowing you to throw the back end (unusual for an AWD vehicle) out before it intervenes to reel you back in.
To counter the sheer brilliance of the power delivery and driving dynamics, the steering is the biggest let down of the vehicle. Equipped with the second generation of what Infiniti calls “Direct Adaptive Steering”, wheel resistance will initially feel super light at a standstill and then artificially stiffen up along with the response once you get moving. This seems good on paper and even on the initial city test drive but upon closer inspection, its seemingly masking what is effectively a large turning diameter of 37.4 feet. This is largely due to the fact that the the wheels restrict the turning angle of the front wheels to one full 360 degree turn of the wheel.
The steering on this car is not directly connected to the steering rack and so this allows for the computer to vary ratios and angular speeds that affect the rate the front wheels turn. This makes for a very non-intuitive steering feel as it seems to have Jekyll and Hyde moments. Sure, it’ll feel great and responsive changing lanes in the city or on the highway with no slop on-center, but try to park the vehicle and the physical limitations are unveiled in a rather unpleasant way.
At an as-tested price of $61,666, this 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport is strategically priced and positioned in a popular segment. Class wise, it’s in the same size as the Lexus IS350 AWD ($52,900) and the BMW 340i xDrive ($59,150) but out performs both on power (400hp vs. 311hp vs. 320hp respectively). The best way to describe the Q50 Red Sport is that it is akin to a second-line professional athlete: all round good performance but not quite elite, with a great bang for buck. It will be great fit for you if you’re simply looking for a classy mode of transport that happens to have great looks (that red, I must reiterate, is gorgeous), good handling and plenty of power. Just don’t expect to be a track star for its class and you’ll be more than happy.