2016 INFINITI Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD Road Test Review
December 18 2015, Trevor Hofmann - Canadian Auto Press
Blowing the Sport Sedan Value Equation Wide Open Once Again
INFINITI's bestselling Q50 sport-luxury sedan might look identical for 2016, but under the skin it's seen significant changes. First, a completely new line of turbocharged engines replaces the multiple award-winning 328 horsepower naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6.
Entry-level models will now get a highly efficient 2.0-litre turbocharged four making 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of peak torque from just 1,500 rpm while achieving 10.6 L/100km city and 8.4 highway, which compares well to the old 3.7's 12.5 and 8.7 rating. Even more exciting, a completely new 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 hits the road running in two states of trim, the first using less fuel than the outgoing model at 12.3 city and 8.5 highway while producing a competitive 300 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque and the second only increasing highway mileage to 9.1 while dishing out an astonishing 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque, which when hooked up to my most recent tester was enough to get my heart racing faster than it has in far too long.
The Q50 Red Sport 400 even gets the blood flowing before climbing inside. It starts off with a car that's already sensational in base trim yet much more menacing with its new frowning front fascia replete with glossy black bezels around its DRLs and LED fogs, gorgeous multi-spoke dark grey alloys at each corner, tasteful body-colour spoiler atop the rear deck lid, and sweet set of brushed metal pipes poking through the rear valance.
Have you ever experienced 400 horsepower, let alone all that performance in a D-segment four-door? The numbers read 4.8 seconds to 100km/h. That's ruddy quick, by the way, but it wouldn't go anywhere without INFINITI's ultra-engaging solid-magnesium paddle-shift actuated seven-speed autobox with navigation synchronized adaptive shift control and downshift rev matching snapping swiftly through the gears, the Drive Mode selector suitably toggled to Sport (there's an Eco mode too… yah, whatever), all four wheels and 245/40RF19s locked onto tarmac at takeoff, INFINITI's sport-tweaked Dynamic Digital Suspension with electronically controlled dampers taking care of squat before brilliantly responsive quick-ratio Direct Adaptive Steering joins in to slice through S-curves, active trace control modulating the brakes and engine torque to enhance feel, and DDS minimizing dive when the big four-piston binders on 14.0-inch front and 13.8-inch rear rotors come into play.
Other than the rush to the head and need for its body-hugging seat bolsters, Red Sport passengers will be kept comfortable within a luxurious cabin, this hyper four-door delivering the same rich opulence as regular Q50s. Aluminum pedals add a racy touch, but the inlays of my tester were classic glossy hardwood, while the fabric-wrapped pillars and roofliner were finished in a classy beige. Perforated leather upholstery covered the sport seats, allowing for a little extra grip and better ventilation. They're fabulously supportive too, with powered thigh extenders no less.
The steering upgrade mentioned a moment ago comes as part of a $3,800 Technology package that also adds auto-leveling and adaptive cornering headlamps with auto high beams, adaptive cruise control with full-speed range and distance control assist, lane departure warning and blindspot intervention, pre-crash seatbelts, INFINITI's Eco Pedal, and those genuine maple inlays also noted earlier.
I should also mention the Red Sport's standard list that includes auto on/off LED headlights, LED taillights, a powered moonroof, remote start, proximity access with pushbutton ignition, auto-dimming interior and side mirrors with reverse tilt-down, a universal garage door opener, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone auto HVAC, two-way driver-side seat, powered tilt and telescopic steering wheel and mirror memory, a heatable steering wheel and seats, 14-speaker Bose audio with satellite radio, navigation, SMS text capability, a 360-degree camera, front and rear parking sonar, blindspot warning with back-up collision intervention, plus predictive forward collision warning and forward emergency braking.
It all comes in an interior that's a cut above most rivals. INFINITI's switchgear has always been second to none and the Q50 doesn't disappoint, while soft touch synthetics even go so far to cover the glove box lid.
The rest of the Q50 Red Sport 400's cabin gets filled with features found in lesser trims including its bright and clear purple-tinted electroluminescent primary gauges, large and useful colour multi-information display at centre, much larger dual display infotainment setup on the centre stack, the eight-inch top monitor for the 360-degree camera, navigation system's map display and other functions controllable via a rotating knob on the lower console, and bottom seven-inch touchscreen for adding nav info, adjusting the radio and HVAC settings, setting up your phone, and more. The display quality is high in resolution, graphics good, colour 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 particularly nice thanks to excellent lower back support, while trunk space measures a sizable 382 litres (13.5 cubic feet), the rear seatbacks fitted with a centre pass-through or alternatively folding 60/40 if longer items need loading. It's good to know your super sport sedan is still practical, right?
Truly, the new Q50 Red Sport 400 loses nothing on the way from luxury to peak performance. That it starts at only $54,600 plus freight and dealer fees, which is about $20k less than any premium branded competitor that pushes 400-plus horsepower, is most impressive.
It looks like INFINITI has gone and blown the sport sedan value equation wide open again.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.