2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD Test Drive

By Barbara & Bill Schaffer

Infiniti?s best-selling model is the Q50 mid-size sedan. It makes up more than a quarter of Infiniti?s annual sales and 71 percent of the brand?s sedan sales. We?re still not completely tuned into the Infiniti brand nomenclature yet, but to put it in size perspective, the Q50 is just slightly smaller than an E-Class Mercedes or Lexus GS.

The Q50 is available in 12 trim levels if you count the all-wheel drive (AWD) and hybrid variations. The available engines include a 208-hp four-cylinder turbo, a 300-hp twin-turbo V6, a 360-hp V6 and electric motor hybrid system and the 400-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 which powers the high-performance Red Sport 400 model. Like most top-level models, 400 has an elevated level of standard features, luxury appointments and a modified twin-turbo V6 engine.

At 400-hp this is a car that makes us sit up and take notice when getting hard onto the throttle. Buff magazines tell us it will make a 0 to 60 mph run in 4.5 seconds. But the extra performance should not be confused with competitive offerings like the BMW M Series cars or the Mercedes-AMG models. The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD is a bit slower, but smooth and refined, lacking that edgy feel of those German hot rods. In short, it?s demeanor is more civilized blending comfort and performance beautifully.

There is no turbo lag from the twin turbo configuration, and the seven-speed automatic transmission is silky smooth both shifting automatically or manually. We like that the transmission automatically does rev matching when down shifted. In standard trim the 400 is rear-wheel drive, but we always prefer the better traction and handling of the AWD versions.

Standard on the Red Sport 400 is the Dynamic Digital Suspension (it?s an option on the other models). It allows the driver to tune the suspension by selecting a drive mode which electronically adjusts the engine mapping and shock absorbers to the optimal blend of ride comfort, response and agility. When either Sport or Sport+ modes are selected the handling improves and the suspension is constantly adjusting to provide the ideal performance and a flat ride.

The Q50 gets a refreshed look for 2018 inside and out along with some new trim names: Pure, Luxe, Sport and Red Sport 400. The mid-size sedan and a trim chiseled look with distinctive lines and the latest iteration of the Infiniti grille. The front fascia has amore angular front bumper with wider and lower air intakes. Infiniti designers use a ?zero lift? approach to aerodynamic efficiency.

Each trim level of the Q50 gets a unique interior look, with the Red Sport 400 getting a rich diamond quilted treatment on the seat side bolsters. We like the double touch screen treatment on the center stack ? the screen is flanked by two rows of real buttons, which get you to the appropriate climate and infotainment controls quickly without having to try to remember which option to push.

As we?ve come to expect in top line models, the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 has a full compliment of driver assistance technologies including features like Direct Adaptive Steering, 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.

At 400 horsepower the Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD doesn?t get the best fuel economy. The EPA rates it at 19 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. We averaged 22.7 mpg during a typical week of mixed driving in town and on the highways. The extra power added an element of fun and was especially nice when passing slow moving vehicles on the two-lane mountain roads near our home. The car handles predictably and well-balanced but falls a bit short of the capabilities of the AMG and M models. Nevertheless, it?s a more civilized car to drive and more suitable enthusiastic drivers, not to mention more affordable.

his is a full-featured sedan that offers impressive performance and elevated level of luxury for a driver wanting something that?s a bit different but well worth the extra investment.

The 2018 Infiniti Q50 pricing starts as low as $35,195, including the destination charge for the Q50 2.0 Pure with rear-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is a $2,000 option. The Hybrid pricing starts at $50,595 and the Red Sport 400 AWD at $53,995. With all the available options the Red Sport 400 can go as high as $61,980.

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