Infiniti is shifting into high gear with its refreshed Q50 sports sedan.
For 2016, it gets a power boost with more engine options than ever before – 4 in total including three new turbocharged engines. For the first time, the luxury Japanese auto maker is offering a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, developed with Daimler but built in the United States, which pumps out 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Also new is a 3.0-litre twin turbo V-6 which comes in two versions: one with 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and the other with 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque – the latter is only offered in a new trim dubbed the Q50 Red Sport 400 – named after its 400 ponies.
The Q50 Red Sport 400 is my tester for the 240-kilometre trek through San Antonio to a makeshift race-track at Retama Park in Selma, Tex. The course – filled with several ride-and-handling exercises – is designed to push the sedan to its limits. Off the line, it accelerates quickly and confidently with barely a trace of turbo lag.
The vehicle is well-balanced with little body roll as it manoeuvres through the cones. The steering is tight and well balanced; the feedback instantaneous, thanks largely to Infiniti’s second generation Direct Adaptive Steering. It lets you customize your ride by letting you choose between six different steering modes: personal, standard, snow, eco, sport, and sport+, which is new for 2016.
The sport+ mode is spirited and sporty on and off the course. Disengage the traction control system and you can have serious fun – I found out, accidentally when my driving partner disengaged the system and I nailed the throttle hard. For those who love a little fun – i.e. doing doughnuts in an empty parking lot – this is the car for you. It has serious power for the driving enthusiast.
From the exterior, the Q50 Red Sport 400 trim adds nice touches to distinguish it from its siblings. Red “S” decals appear on the trunk and side body along with special exhaust tips and a tiny lip spoiler on the deck lid. Bold colours – venetian ruby, electric indigo, and hagane blue – are a welcome change from the typical, boring shades of silver and grey.
Inside, the cabin is upscale, high-tech, and modern with two large dual touch-screen displays – an 8-inch on top and a 7-inch monitor below for accessing everything from the navigation to the audio system.
You’ll like this car if ... You want serious thrills behind the wheel of a sports sedan filled with style and substance plus power and performance.
Base price: $39,900
Engine: 3.0-litre twin turbo V-6
Transmission/Drive: Seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode/All-wheel drive
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.8 city; 9.1 highway; 11.1 combined
Alternatives: BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Lexus IS
Looks: While the Q50 Red Sport 400 isn’t as daring and bold in its design as the old Infiniti G37, it’s still attractive and athletic in its appearance. It’s also deceiving – it doesn’t look like it’s a speed demon, but don’t let that fool you. It is.
Interior: High-tech, modern cabin with two large touch-screen monitors and buttons galore. Any tech nerd would love it. The front seats are well-sculpted, comfy, and supportive, but the rear seats are a little tight on legroom for taller passengers.
Performance: Gut-wrenchingly quick and nimble behind the wheel. The 400 ponies leap to life as soon as you nail the throttle. Infiniti’s second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering mated to the sport+ mode is tight and responsive – a true driver’s car.
Technology: Available safety technology is designed to keep you on the straight and narrow. Everything from predictive forward collision to rain-sensing windshield wipers to intelligent cruise control with full-speed range to blind spot intervention are all up for grabs.
Cargo: Cargo space is a little tight for a luxury mid-size sedan. But at least there’s a trunk pass-through feature for longer items.
Good looks with serious power under the hood.
The writer was a guest of the auto maker. Content was not subject to approval.
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