2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400: Sleeper Fans Rejoice

Published on December 26, 2016 in Test Drives by Danny Geraghty

It's going on three years now since Infiniti's 2014 brand-naming shakeup, which saw all sedans inherit a Q designation and all SUVs inherit the letters QX. Most car buffs and a portion of the general population have probably swallowed that sour pill, but as much as the brand would like to put it behind them, I don't think we're past the obligatory mention of it when writing about an Infiniti.

The renaming of the G37 sedan to the Q50 actually coincided with the release of the new 2014 model. An arguable improvement over the previous generation, the new Q50 reflects the direct influence of the Infiniti Essence concept, while honouring the styling cues of earlier Infiniti sports sedans. The exterior design features the double arch grille, dynamic arch roofline and crescent-cut C-pillar. The front end is aggressive, with a different fascia offered on the Sport variants of the Q50, while the back end is fairly standard and rather tame.

On the inside, we find a decent cabin with a few luxury trimmings here and there, but one that is a tad underwhelming for a luxury car. The gorgeous Nissan Maxima Platinum’s interior blew me away and I had hoped to experience a similar feeling in the Q50, but it was not the case in either the 2.0t or the Red Sport 400 trims I tested. The interior on the Red Sport was a near carbon copy of the base model.

Photo: Danny Geraghty

That being said, as long as you temper your expectations, the cabin functions very well both ergonomically and for comfort. The only thing that bothered me was the blaring siren going off every time I opened my door to exit the vehicle. It was such that in many occasions I stopped and looked at the dash to find out what critical system needed my attention only to realize there was no problem at all. The car just went crazy when you open a door to get out and that needs to be adjusted.

The current crop of powerplants didn’t actually launch with the new Q50. In fact, Infiniti announced new engines for the Q50 at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show in February 2016. The lineup starts with the 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder turbo, rated at 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. The crème de la crème, however, is a new compact, lightweight twin-turbo, 3.0-litre DOHC V6 engine that the brand says is the most advanced Infiniti has ever offered. When found in the 3.0t and 3.0t Sport models, this engine is tuned to produce 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. When found in the Q50 Red Sport 400, output is bumped to a whopping 400 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft.

The transmission offered is a seven-speed automatic complete with downshift rev matching and dynamic driving modes. Magnesium paddle shifters mounted to the steering column make the driving as much fun as possible.

Photo: Danny Geraghty

The 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is ridiculously fast. We had one reader on MontrealRacing.com who owns one bring it to the track and reported completing the quarter mile in 12.8 seconds. That is not quite BMW M3 territory yet, but it’s a good start. Furthermore, the Q50 handles that power effortlessly with quick shifts and never hesitated to give me exactly what I asked of it. On the other side of the spectrum, the 2.0t yielded a peppy, fuel-efficient base model with enough power to get around town while not having to sacrifice any prestige associated with the Infiniti brand.

Sleeper car fans will rejoice because there is almost no way to tell the difference between the ultra-fast Q50 and the other versions, save for a small red "S" on the front fenders. It's a departure from what brands usually do, like equip the car with monster flares or spoilers, but the subtlety is quite refreshing, especially if you want to keep a low profile.

The 2016 Infiniti Q50 is an alternative to people unhappy with offerings such as the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Lexus IS or Acura TLX. It’s also very competitive when it comes to price, starting at just $39,900 for the 2.0t and ending up at $52,600 for the Red Sport.

Test drive report
Test model 2016 Infiniti Q50
Trim level RED SPORT 400 AWD
Price range $39,900 – $57,000
Price as tested 57 000 $
Warranty (basic) 4 years/100,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 6 years/110,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 12,8 / 9,1 / 12,5 L/100km
Options N/A
Competitive models Acura TLX, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Volvo S60
Strong points
  • Great performance-per-dollar ratio
  • Very easy to operate
  • Sleepers are cool
Weak points
  • Interior of the Red Sport 400 same as in base trim
  • Confusing branding
  • Annoying sound while door is open
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 3.5/5 Average
Comfort 4.5/5 Very easy and comfortable to drive
Performance 4.5/5 The 400 horses are a joy
Infotainment 4.0/5 Easy to use
Driving 4.5/5 The car responds very well when pushed
Overall 4.0/5 A worthy competitor to the big boys
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