What is it: The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is the company’s BMW M fighter. With a 400-hp 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine, aggressive styling and posh interior, the Q50 checks all the boxes for a luxury performance sedan.
Key Competitors: Lexus IS 350 F Sport AWD, BMW M3, Audi S4
Base Price: $53,995 As-Tested Price: $61,710
Highlights: For 2018, the Q50 lineup offers four powertrains: this 400-hp Red Sport, a 300-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6, a 208-hp 2.0-liter turbo I4 and a 360-hp V6 gasoline-electric hybrid. It’s available in rear-wheel- and all-wheel-drive models, and each trim gets slightly different styling inside and out.
Our Opinion: The more I drive these Red Sport Infiniti sedans and coupes, the more I’m divided. On one hand, this all-wheel-drive Q50 Red Sport absolutely scoots — it lays down 400 hp without so much as chirping a tire. You plant your foot, and the car just goes. On the downside — the steering.
The first time I drove a Q50 Red Sport, it was a rear-wheel-drive variant with the adaptive steering option. I didn’t think it was great, but good enough for cruising around town and doing burnouts at stop lights. After more seat time, the steering just makes me more frustrated. It’s as numb as they come. The rest of the car is a shining star in the company’s lineup. It looks cool, it’s quick and it's plush on the inside. Hell, even the exhaust note from the turbocharged engine is enjoyable.
Power delivery is smooth and linear. The 3.0-liter V6 hums along peacefully at interstate speeds but will make some noise when you put your foot into it. The all-wheel-drive system takes some of the charm away from the Red Sport, with the rear-drive variant’s willingness to turn tires into smoke, but it is much more behaved during an average commute and will be welcome come winter.
Inside there are soft-touch materials everywhere and a dual-screen infotainment system. Those screens can wash out if the sun hits them at the right angle, but otherwise they work harmoniously to keep you informed with your music selections and GPS directions. The two-screen system is also how you manage the car’s driving modes.
But again, that steering: If you liked the sensation from your old Logitech racing wheel when you played endless hours of "Gran Turismo" you’ll have no problem with the Infiniti’s steering system. Otherwise, the adaptive steering option should be a box left unchecked on either of the Red Sports. It ruins an otherwise impressive car.
Options: proactive package — intelligent cruise control, direct adaptive steering, lane departure prevention with active lane control, distance control assist, adaptive front lighting system with auto leveling headlights, high beam assist, front pre-crash seat belts, eco pedal ($2,700), sensory package (sport) Bose 16-speaker surround sound, power tilt & telescopic steering column, dual-occupant memory driver seat steering column and outside mirrors, advanced climate control system, enhanced interior ambient lighting, auto-dimming outside mirrors ($2,650), carbon fiber package — decklid spoiler, exterior mirror covers ($1,500), illuminated kick plates ($465), radiant grille emblem ($400)
Base Price: $53,995
As Tested Price: $61,710
Powertrain: 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, AWD seven-speed automatic
Output: 400 hp @ 6,400 rpm 350 lb-ft @ 1,600-5,200 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,993 lb
Fuel Economy: 19/26/22 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: Obscenely fast and fun
Cons: The steering feel is completely absent