Infiniti Q50: New Flagship Red Sport 400

By Sue Mead, September 10th, 2016

It's the cherry on top of spirited performance. Infiniti's 2016 INFINITI Q50 now has a new flagship -- the Red Sport 400 -- that boasts 400 horsepower, more than any other rival in its class priced below $50,000.

When the 2014 replacement of Infiniti's fourth-generation G sedan was revealed at the 2013 North American International Auto Show it was renamed the Q50; it has since become Infiniti's top-selling model in North America. As part of its mid-cycle refresh, the 2016 Q50 has received a number of performance and dynamic upgrades, including the range-topping special edition, a trio of powerful and efficient turbocharged engines, Infiniti's second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering, and a new Dynamic Digital Suspension.

It's offered in a range of trim levels, each in a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, starting with the Q50 2.0t at $32,950. Other trims include the Q50 2.0t Premium, Q50 3.0t Premium, Q50 Hybrid Premium, Q50 Sport and the Q50 Red Sport that starts at $47,950 for RWD and $49,950 for AWD.

The five-passenger sport sedan features a sleek and athletic design that's eye-appealing from the first glance at its signature "double arch" grille. Its three-dimensional, textural quality is created by elaborate detailing of the waved mesh pattern surface and chrome surround, and its distinctive LED headlights and daytime running lights. A commanding character line flows from the grille across the side like a wave and merges into the rear, creating a highly fluid profile.

Inside, Infiniti's InTouch telematics system has two touch-capacitive color screens (8-inch upper and 7-inch lower), that can be controlled by intuitive hand-gestures for easy changing of settings. There is 100 cubic-feet of passenger volume and 13.2 cu.-ft. of truck space (9.4 in the Hybrid model).

Four powertrains are offered; all pair with a seven-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with manual shift mode and steering-column-mounted paddle shifters. The entry-level 2.0 is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with idle stop-start that makes 208 horsepower. and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, and gets 23 mpg city, 31 mpg highway, and 26 mpg combined (with RWD) or 22/28/24 (with AWD). The Q50 3.0t Premium and Q50 Sport are powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine that makes 300 hp., 205 lb.-ft. of torque, and 20/30/24 mpg RWD or 19/28/22 with AWD (Sport models are about 1 mpg lower).

The 3.0-liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine that powers the Q50 Red Sport 400 boosts output to 400 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque and gets 20/27/22 (RWD) or 19/26/22 (AWD).

The hybrid powertrain combines a 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 with a 50 kW electric motor and a compact laminated lithium-ion battery for a total of 360 horsepower, and gets 28/34/ 30 (RWD) or 27/31/28 (AWD).

We drove both Sport models but concentrated our drive on the RWD Red Sport 400 that gets a Sport styled front fascia; Red Sport 400 brushed-finish exhaust tips; Red Sport 400 19-inch sport aluminum-alloy wheels (staggered for RWD models); chrome finished red "S" exterior sport badging on the trunk and front fenders; leather-appointed sport seats; aluminum-accented pedals and solid magnesium paddle shifters; and unique brakes and suspension.

We were thrilled with the Red Sport 400's power and overall handling. Emphasis was placed on improving the QX50 sedan's steering and suspension, and it shows with revised suspension settings and revised front and rear stabilizer bars. Infiniti's Direct Adaptive Steering -- the world's first digital steering system -- actively adjusts the steering ratio and effort according to vehicle speed and driving conditions. In slow-moving situations, such as city driving or parking, the system provides easier maneuverability; under sportier situations, steering effort increases with high lateral G-force and acceleration. Additionally, a Drive Mode Selector allows steering response to be further fine-tuned from six available options: Personal, Standard, Snow, Eco, Sport, and the new Sport+.

The Dynamic Digital Suspension found on Q50 Sport models gives a ride tuned for comfort, when desired, and also a ride that gets class-leading response and agility (says Infiniti) for more aggressive driving with a system that constantly monitors body roll, pitch, and bounce rate and adjusts shock absorbers.

Specifications

Base price $47,950 (as tested: $48,855)
Curb weight 3,666 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Engine type Turbocharged V-6 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 17.8 gal.
Horsepower (net) 400 at 6400 rpm
Overall length 188.3 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 350 at 1600-5200 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger midsize RWD sedan
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