Infiniti’s 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 stands out for both the big and little things in a segment where excellence is expected.
What is it?
The Infiniti Q50 is a compact, four-door sedan that aims at the BMW 3 Series. The Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 is the hot rod of the family.
Pricing and trims
The 2016 Q50 line from Infiniti starts with a rear-wheel drive sedan powered by a 208 hp 2.0-liter turbo engine priced with no options for about $34K. This brings Infiniti more or less into line with the Lexus IS and BMW 3 Series, among others. That engine is likely plenty for some drivers.
The step up is the 3.0-liter twin turbo our test vehicle has, and Q50s so equipped start at about $42K without options. All-wheel drive is available with either engine, and a full-whammy Q50 with everything will approach $60K. At every step, the Q50 is in sync with its closest competitor, the Lexus IS, and it’s a bit less expensive than a comparably-equipped BMW 3 Series.
Our car came with rear-wheel drive and the stronger engine coupled to a 7-speed automatic transmission. If you plan to drive this car in snow, then AWD will be helpful, but plan either way to budget for a set of snow tires – we’ll explain below.
The $52K 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 does not come standard with forward collision prevention and automatic emergency braking, and out test vehicle did not have it. That important safety technology is bundled into the “Driver Assistance Package” and includes much more – Backup Collision Intervention and Around View Monitor, for example.
Be sure you look for this package on the Q50 you take home. In five years, used car shoppers may be turning their noses up at cars without this package, since it will be standard on every new car in America.
The lack of active safety features coupled with a score of “Acceptable” on the small frontal overlap crash test in 2015, means this 2016 Q50 test vehicle is not an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
This segment continues to evolve, and only Lexus is left with a normally-aspirated V6 engine. The 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 has a 3-liter twin turbo. In our testing, we found no faults and many pluses with the feel of this engine on the road. Without question, the new engine is a class leader in every respect.
The new 400hp twin-turbo V6 in the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 is impressive. Punchy in every situation, it bears no detectable turbo lag, unless you floor the car while cruising. The low-end torque is intoxicating on back roads. Choose Sport or another setting for the engine, and the throttle response is immediate. One must be careful not to get carried away.
This is more engine than any sane sedan owner will ever need in a car they don’t plan to take to the track. The old normally-aspirated engine was a gem in the G37, but this is a whole new level of awesome.
One downside; a combined EPA rating of 22 mpg, and Infiniti specifies premium fuel. This engine is about 100 hp more than most will need. The base engine is about 100 hp less than many buyers will want. However, there is also a 300 hp version of the 3.0-liter turbo that may be perfect for a wide group of buyers. We frequently overwhelmed the rear tires in our test car. If you plan to drive hard, consider the AWD trim for more traction to put the power down and do give the 300 hp version a try.
The tested Q50’s seven-speed transmission seemed to have no trouble finding the right gear. Many vehicles in this class have a delay when you are cruising and want to quickly accelerate just a bit as the transmission hunts for the right gear.
Not so in this car, which just explodes ahead. It actually takes some effort to rein it (and yourself) in. Paddle shifters on the wheel are large and easy to use if you wish to take control of the shifts yourself.
Ride and handling
Living in the snowbelt, I am alert to test cars that are too rough over broken up roads. The suspension is adjustable in the Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400. My favorite was “Standard.” There is no “Comfort” setting, and it was on the edge of too firm for my tastes.
The driver can select the steering and engine options separately, so if you want the engine to be responsive and the steering super-sharp, you don’t have to suffer being banged around on bumps. Perfect.
We should mention that the brakes are fantastic in this car, with a sports-car firm pedal.
One note of caution. This sports sedan comes with different size ultra-low profile, summer-only, run-flat tires front and back. A second set of tires would be an absolute necessity if you own this car where the temperature goes below 35 degrees F. Practically speaking, you will likely need separate rims with TPMS sensors. Budget another $2,500 for that.
The perforated leather front seats are very comfortable, and the thigh adjustment is a bonus you won’t find on many vehicles at this price point.
In back, a six-foot adult can sit behind a six-foot adult in the front seat comfortably. A Volvo S60 we recently tested was much tighter by comparison.
The trunk of the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 is typical for its segment. There is no spare, so room is not needed for that. When one clicks the fob or presses the interior trunk release all it does is unlock. The trunk does not rise, nor is there a closure button.
Infotainment and controls
Despite the big engine changes, the most important improvement from this tester’s perspective is the interior trim and infotainment system. I have been a fan of this car for many years, but the analog clock always seemed old-fashioned. Worse was the “grandma’s dresser” wood interior trim. The decor screamed “old person.” The trim in our tester was attractive aluminum.
The infotainment changes are much more drastic. Infiniti has a new system with a top screen that displays the Nav (at least in our tester which had the Nav option.) Below is a second touch-interface that also shows info like what artist is on the audio system. We appreciate that there is there is no mouse, like the ones Lexus and Mercedes force you to use. You can do what you need to do simply and easily, and as a bonus, the screen stays free of fingerprints.
In our last test car in this class, the Volvo S60, we gave up on the Nav. We could never get the correct view of the map, and the screen was tiny. Infiniti places a knob on the center console near the shifter that allows a driver to easy change the field of view of the navigation. We loved it.
The 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 was a joy to live with for a week of testing. In all areas, the car excels. It is a comfortable cruiser, a rocket ship when you want it to be, easy to use inside, and has a great new interior vibe that is modern and classy.
Those looking for a premium compact sports sedan leaning heavily towards high-performance end of the spectrum will love this 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400. This car is not a poser. It is the real deal and a serious option to the BMW 340i, Lexus IS 350 F Sport, or Mercedes C-Class.
Our only advice to a shopper is to consider which options matter to them before buying. AWD should be seriously considered given this car’s tremendous torque and power, not just for all-weather capability. We also wish to state again that even if you are not dying to own a car with active safety, opting for that option would be wise in many ways.
In closing, let us say again that this is a driver’s car. In a segment where all the cars are great, this one really stands out in the crowd.
Shopping for a new or used Q50? Check out BestRide.com’s local listings here.
2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400
Base price: $33,950 (Q50 2.0t)
Price as tested, $ 51,545, including $905 destination charge:
Premium Plus Pacakge: $2,250
Heated Steering Wheel and Front Seats
Remote Engine Start
Illuminated Kick Plates: $440
Rear Deck Spoiler: Price Pending
- Strong Engine
- Modern Interior Design
- Easy To Use Infotainment
- Lack of Cooled Seats
- Trunk Does Not Open Automatically