Okay, the SUV/Crossover segment currently outsells sedans by a healthy margin as folks take advantage of lower gas prices and creature comforts, schlepping folks and storage hither and yon. But there’s really nothing like stepping inside a sporty missile that’ll move you with eye-popping acceleration while glued to curves and exuding a lovely exhaust note. These are the rides that quicken pulses and paste ear-to-ear grins of adolescent euphoria.
To wit, I had the pleasure of zipping around in the resounding 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. I didn’t merely pass slower vehicles, but literally rocketed past them – even uphill. It’s an exhilarating chariot that’s just the right antidote to defy the blahs. The Q50 Red Sport 400 drives like a rambunctious stallion that’ll also behave when called upon. Nearly everything about it is attractive, luxurious and tech-enhanced. It includes a stellar package of seductive lines, powerful performance, inviting cabin and gadgets galore. And, it’s available at a cost that’s thousands under its luxury counterparts, while still commanding a decidedly upscale presence.
The Red Sport’s exterior exudes its sporty DNA with large airfoils and aggressive fascia in the front to separate it from the base Q50. It drew raves of “dashing” without screaming, “Look at me.” Our Majestic White tester casts a sleek, muscular stance enhanced by Infiniti’s signature “double wave design.” I was impressed with the graceful extended character lines along its flanks, offering a perfect proportion from stem to stern. It’s robust without looking bulbous. The fit and finish is impressive too, offering some of the tightest seams of any production car I’ve seen. The furrowed LED eyebrows over the bright LED headlights give the Red Sport version a slightly sinister personality. Beautiful 19-inch Red Sport 400 carbon-colored rims with painted red brake calipers (the new cool car accessory) inside wide staggered run-flat tires. A rear spoiler and unique dual chrome exhausts complete the sweet ensemble.
The Q50 Red Sport 400 utilizes Infiniti’s robust twin turbo V6 with 400hp and 350lb-ft of torque. Upon flooring it, the engine note delivers a nice growl especially in Sport modes. It’s smooth and accelerates immediately while downshifting impeccably. Throttle response, shift patterns and steering adjustments are controlled by a toggle switch in the middle console. The Zero-lift aerodynamics design adds to the slippery feel as you barrel down the highway. There are six driving modes (ECO, Snow, Standard, Sport, Sport + and Personal). You can customize up to 300 different combos in Personal Mode. Yes, you can go a little crazy, but a good life is all about options. This gives you plenty. The Red Sport’s Dynamic Digital Suspension feels very planted on the road and cruises exceptionally well while soaking up all but the worst road imperfections. It can hit the curves with confident aggression, especially in All Wheel Drive. In fact I’d recommend the AWD as the unmistakable power to just the rear is almost too much without getting a tad squirrely. Those attractive and capable Infiniti-stamped red brake calipers make stopping smooth and quick. Given its sublime capability for speed, I’d really like Infiniti to include a digital speedometer and Head Up Display (with posted speed limits) in future models to keep those peepers on the road and ticketing officers on the sidelines. The improved Direct Adaptive Steering controls the tire angles and steering inputs in Sport modes. The effect allows you to specifically alter the steering feedback from benign to incredibly precise thanks to Formula 1 driving champ Sebastian Vettel’s input. And the turning radius is one of the tightest I’ve tested. Gas mileage for this rocket is commendable 20/26 in RWD and about two miles a gallon fewer in the AWD version. I did coax 31 on the highway with premium fuel in RWD all while gleefully passing cars in a blur.
The plush interior feels upscale with excellent materials. The exquisite dash and door designs mirror the exterior’s graceful flow. Abundant contrasting red double-stitched quilted leather seats are supportive and comfy on long trips (my bride and daughter loved them). Lighted Infiniti kick plates are a nice touch. The red-stitched leather (and heated!) steering wheel is adorned with volume, menu, voice activation and cruise control buttons. The brushed aluminum trim contrasts nicely with the Graphite leather. Storage is decent for your various knickknacks but I’d recommend a designated spot for your smartphone. Back seat room is generous in this class and the 60/40 split seats fold down for extra cargo space. Dual-touch screens fill the center console; a large NAV screen complete with traffic and speed limit notifications on top and an infotainment display for radio etc. underneath. Infiniti sweats the details, as the delightfully organized analog control buttons and knobs are a breeze to navigate and you can call up radio stations via voice activation. Trunk space is 13.5 cubic feet – decent for this category – and more with the seats folded down. A full set of clubs including a driver fits horizontally with ease. However, in this price range, Infiniti should offer a power lift/close trunk lid.
Infiniti continues to impress the finicky techno-lover. The optional and worthy Premium package offers NAV, BOSE 16-speaker Premium Audio, XM Real-Time Weather, 36 radio presets (across all radio formats!), Backup Camera and Voice Recognition. The NAV and VR are some of the best in the biz. You can select points of interest as all the area golf courses were listed. Like most in its class, the Q50 Red Sport 400 offers optional safety protectors including Blind Spot Intervention, 360-degree parking sensors, Speed Adaptive Cruise Control, Forward Emergency Braking, and Forward Collision Warnings that peeks ahead 500-yards for impending traffic issues and readies brakes for quick stops. You’d have to be a deplorable driver to wreck this ride. In addition, you get an optional 24-hour access Infiniti Personal Assistant that’s like conversing with your very own concierge – all at the push of a button. Who doesn’t want a personal Jeeves?
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 will delight current Infiniti owners and potential new customers. It’s sleek, sporty and surrounds you in attractive luxury without losing that Infiniti spirit. Plus it’s at a price point that feels like a steal in this lofty category. I believe you’ll be duly impressed when breaking the sound barrier barreling down the highway.
Golf bags: 2
Curbside appeal: Seriously sporty presence with a sexy growl
0-60: 4.8 seconds (RWD), 4.5 AWD
MPG: 20/26 Observed 21/31 RWD, 21/29 AWD
Must haves: Premium and Sport Packages
Warranty: 4 years/60,000 miles
Base price: $51,000 (base Q50 starts at $34,200)
Price as tested: $56,475
Who buys it? Those who desire hitting warp speed when desired
Finish line: A formidable premium rocket that won’t break the bank
Test-drive the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 at Crest Infiniti in Frisco.