2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

Japanese automakers struggled to come up with a reasonable competitor to the benchmark BMW 3 Series for many years. The first to come close was Infiniti with the 2003 G35. Riding Nissan’s FM (for front mid-engine) platform, the sedan shared a number of components with the Nissan 350Z.  Flash forward 15 years, the G35 is now known as the Q50 and has a higher performing variant known as the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400.

Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Overview

For the 2018 model year, this car has been treated to a mild refresh, including a reimagining of the grille, from which flows powerful character lines along the sides of its body. Meanwhile, new LED headlamps give the Q50’s face more of a “glower”. These, combined with a set of more pronounced front air intakes make the car look even more menacing when it is rapidly approaching other traffic from the rear.

When the Q50 Red Sport 400 passes those cars (which it does with remarkable ease), their drivers are treated to a view of the Infiniti’s new rear end.  This aspect of the sedan has been reworked to place more visual emphasis on the twin exhaust outlets and rear diffuser. A two-tone paint scheme finds the body color of the Q50 Red Sport accompanied by dark metallic trim around the base of the rear bumper.

Power comes from a 400-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 350 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission routes power to the rear wheels. An evolution of the highly regarded Nissan VQ-series V6 engine, it features direct injection and exhaust manifolds integrated into the cylinder head. These revisions improve throttle response considerably. Driving the car, we never got a hint the engine was turbocharged. Power was simply there whenever we called upon it.

Further enhancing the Infiniti’s performance potential is Direct Adaptive Steering, which basically steers the car by wire. In other words, when you turn the steering wheel, a computer tells the front wheels what to do. We found it to be quite responsive, if slightly dead feeling on center. Forces build nicely, good feedback is provided and its accuracy inspired a lot of confidence. With the Q50’s drive mode selector we could also tailor the weight of the steering, though we primarily drove it in the sport mode.

The suspension system benefits from technological wizardry as well. Tagged Dynamic Digital Suspension, the shocks are continuously adjusted to the pace at which the Q50 is traveling, the nature of the road (straight vs. twisty) and the condition of the pavement (rough vs. smooth). Body roll is well contained in the corners to maximize road holding. On rough surfaces, the system mellows the suspension to absorb pavement irregularities and provide the smoothest ride possible. As a result, we found the Q50 Sport struck a nice balance between determined handling when we wanted it and a plush ride when we needed it.

Speaking of plush, the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is a wonderfully appointed automobile. Quality materials are the order of the day and build quality is outstanding. Sumptuous just barely begins to describe it. Updates for the 2018 model year include a new steering wheel with reshaped gear-shifter paddles. The reworked leather-wrapped shift knob features double-stitched seams, new chrome trim and an inlaid Infiniti logo.

As before however, all the contemporary goods you expect a mid-priced luxury sedan to deliver are wholly evident, including Bose surround audio and the requisite touchscreen infotainment system. Here, Infiniti continues to go one better than the competition with redundant controls for just about every function. In addition to the touchscreen, there ‘s a dial and pointer interface, along with good ole’ pushbuttons. Further, the leather upholstered seats in our Q50 Red Sport 400 had thigh extensions, power lumbar support and side bolster adjustments for the driver.

Underway, power delivery is strong, stability at speed is outstanding and the overall ride quality is commendable—even with 19-inch wheels and low profile tires. When you want to push it, you can slip the seven-speed automatic into its manual mode and control shifts yourself with the magnesium paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Shifts come immediately and downshifts are rev-matched with an automatic blip of the throttle. The upgraded brakes applied to the Red Sport 400 are powerful and stand up to repeated hard use with no fade at all.

What’s most incredible about this Infiniti sport sedan is the sophistication with which it goes about its business. Even when performing vigorously, the Q50 Red Sport 400 exhibits absolute composure. The exhaust note, while pleasing, is decidedly mature. If you’re looking for a boy-racer rumble you’ll want to visit your Ford or Chevy dealer for a turn in a Mustang or a Camaro. The Infiniti is a paragon of restraint in its demeanor, even as it delivers performance solidly on par with both of those cars. 

Sharp, capable and delightfully agile, you’ll love pushing the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 on back roads or at the track.  And yet, it conducts itself in the wholly sophisticated fashion you’d expect from a premium automobile in day-to-day activities. All in all, we like it — a lot.

Pricing starts at $51,950.

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