Road Test: 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD

Infiniti updated the Q50 sedan for 2018, taking an already excellent sports sedan and elevating closer to perfection. We loved the Q60 Red Sport 400 Coupe, and now, Infiniti is offering the 400 horsepower Red Sport trim on the Q50.

The exterior redesign retains its sleek proportions and athletic stance, with Red Sport having a more angular front bumper and wider, lower air intakes. A vehicle simply doesn’t get any sexier or more beautiful.  Our model wore stunning 20″ wheels on all-season rubber that allowed the AWD drivetrain to really deliver. The carbon fiber trunk spoiler and side mirror covers are pieces of art that will likely outlive any sheet metal.

Under the hood, the 3.0L twin-turbo engine produces the aforementioned 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, routing it through a smooth, yet fast 7-speed automatic. This engine begs to be driven hard, and we commend Infiniti engineers for striving to get as much power out of this powertrain as they did. The power is delivered intelligently using AWD with a rear bias, giving the best performance and traction combination.

The Direct Adaptive Steering (drive-by-wire) is updated and feels so much better. It’s direct, accurate, instantaneous, but not jittery as we felt before. At low speeds, a light quarter turn is just about all it takes to pull the Q50 Red Sport 400 into a parking spot. At highway speeds, the ratio changes appropriately and the weighting in the steering provides high confidence and feedback.

The Infiniti InTuition system accessible inside the car has simple settings for customizing how the engine, steering, and suspension respond. It’s incredible and makes a big difference.

Inside, the new Q50 has the luxury one would expect, but it’s the details in the stitching, materials, and overall design that warms us inside.

Changes to the interior include unique stitching, soft-touch materials that surround the instrument panel, and a sport-oriented leather shift knob. Uniquely designed spinal support seats ensure the optimal driving position and feel amazing to sit in. A new heated steering wheel feels excellent in the hands.

All elbow rests are thickly padded in typical Infiniti fashion, resulting in excellent cruising comfort.

InTouch is the brains on the dash that controls all the various settings on the Q50, and relays info on the car’s current status, from G-forces to fuel economy. Infiniti polished it for 2018, making it snappier. The Bose 16-speaker audio system is a concert hall on wheels, but we wish Apple CarPlay were available.

The leading tech doesn’t stop at just the performance aspects of the car. This Q50 came with a roster of driver assistance technologies that empower and support the driver. They include Active Lane Control; Intelligent Cruise Control; Distance Control Assist; Backup Collision Intervention; Blind Spot Warning and Intervention; Lane Departure Warning and Prevention; Forward Emergency Braking; and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.

We thankfully only sampled half of those. Active Lane Control works very well at keeping the Q50 centered in its lane, and Intelligent Cruise Control is the perfect companion for highway drives. It perfectly maintains one of several driver-selectable preset distances from the vehicle ahead. Blind Spot Warning with Intervention actually prevents merging into a lane where another car is detected. Backup Collision Intervention uses the sonar sensors in the rear bumper to hit the brakes if the driver doesn’t react to the audible and visual alerts that something is there.

The key to preventing an accident is visibility, and the Q50 has large windows all around that allow that. At night, adaptive LED headlights project like flood lamps, turning night into day. Automatic high beams help reduce the annoyance of switching from low to high beams, and worked well in our experience.

An illuminated Infiniti logo on the grille is the perfect finishing touch to this exemplary sedan.

Summary Scorecard (1-10)
Ride and Handling 10
Braking 10
Powertrain and Fuel Economy 10
Noise 10
Headlights 10
Interior Fit and Finish 10
Seating 10
Visibility 10
Gauges and Controls 10
Infotainment 10
Crash-Avoidance 10
Total Score  100

Make: Infiniti
Model: Q50
Trim Level: Red Sport 400
Engine: 3.0L
Transmission: 7-Speed Auto
Options: Sensory, Carbon Fiber, and Proactive Pkgs

Base Price: $53,000
As-Tested Price: $61,710

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  • […] hard to ignore Infiniti’s stylish design language on the Q50, Q60, and QX80. Thankfully, the equally stunning and compact 2018 QX30 is within easier reach […]

  • Rob says:

    I own an RS myself and came across this while looking for AWD 0-60 times. I love the car and am a big fan. However, I would not give it perfect scores in the following categories:
    Gauges – lacks fundamental performance car data like oil and coolant temps, boost level, etc. (at least my ’17 is lacking)
    Infotainment – needs CarPlay and the touch screen shows fingerprints
    Body – the trunk is heavy to open, I’m told this is normal but it is not perfect like the type that springs partially open and is light to lift.
    Handling – it is not at the M4 or Alfa level. Maybe with great tires it might come close but it also lacks an LSD. So not perfect by any stretch.
    Powertrain – even in 2017 the 7 speed was outdated. It is a good transmission but the engine should be able to accommodate a taller final drive and an additional ratio (or 3) that woulld contribute to even better acceleration.

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