2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD

The sublime engine almost redeems it


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Powerful and quick, some nice exterior design elements, plush and luxuriously appointed seats, unique look in the segment.
Negatives: Dated interior styling, dated infotainment, build quality is questionable.
Bottom Line: The Q50 is a bit of a dinosaur compared to competitors in the sports sedan category. The powerful twin-turbo V6 is marvelous, but it gets overshadowed by the build quality and the aging interior and in-car tech. For this price, you're better off with the Genesis G70 or the BMW 3-Series.
Infiniti is struggling to stay current, and it doesn't help that the Q50 sedan hasn't been redesigned since back in 2014. That's an eternity that's unforgivable when other carmakers like BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus have fresh designs. The one saving grace for the Q50 could be the Red Sport 400's potent engine. We tested it in AWD to see if what's under the hood can make the difference. Read our full review below.
 

Driving Experience

8.5

 

The Q50 is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the twin turbo V6's 400-horsepower output. It pulls hard and sounds great. It's also a fun car to toss but suffers a little in terms of ride quality. There are better all-arounders like the Audi S4 and the BMW M340i xDrive.

Ride Quality: The ride is firm for the most part, but dialing it into Comfort mode helps matters. It feels like a sports sedan, which isn't a bad thing.

Acceleration: 0-60 comes in the mid fours, which is pretty quick but slower than some of the competition. The 7-speed automatic makes quick work of things and does a good job of downshifting when called upon to do so.

Braking: The brakes are solid and provide good stopping power without any progression issues.

Steering: The steering is precise and quick but could use more effort. Our tester did not come with the optional drive-by-wire setup.

Handling: The Q50 feels taut and controlled with minimal body roll. It manages turns with precision and balance.

Technology

5.2

 

We're still confused as to why Infiniti hasn't overhauled its in-car tech's software and its layout. The dated interior could've gone another couple of years if the technology was better. When it comes to controls, it also seems user would find things ergonomically deficient.

Infotainment System: The two screens are an anachronism that pretty much no one prefers. What's worse, the graphics and menus are painfully dated and responsiveness is sub-par.

Controls: The two screens force the climate controls to two flanking columns, which make operation clunky when driving. Too many functions are relegated to the unattractive and frustrating screen, and the steering wheel buttons are not intuitive, either.

Styling

7.5

 

We actually really like the looks of the Q50's sculpted body, which has survived a long generation well. It's the poorly aging interior that quashes a score that would've been much higher.

Front: The dark chrome mesh grille, angry headlights, and the carved hood look properly aggressive together.

Rear: We love the unique taillight shapes that draw the eye, and the round pipes, carbon fiber spoiler, and dark chrome trim piece adjoining the taillights make for a very handsome back end.

Profile: The Q50 is well-proportioned from front to back. We also like the sculpting in the body that provides a great muscularity to the side view. Dark chrome window trim matches the wheels (which are so-so), and the carbon fiber side mirrors are a great option. We're not big fans of Infiniti's attempt at their own version of the BMW Hofmeister kink in the rear side window trim, but kudos for trying to be original.

Cabin: There's not much to like except for the look of the seat stitching. The dash is overly thick, the center console is too bulky, and the fake carbon fiber trim doesn't look right.

Comfort

7.9

 

While the interior might not be the most attractive (or the most current), it does have some great seats in both front and back with the added pleasure of Semi-Aniline quilted leather.

Front Seats: Seat adjustability is good, as are the cushioning and bolstering. We had no trouble getting ourselves situated for spirited driving.

Rear Seats: 35.1 inches of rear legroom is slightly more than the Genesis G70 and about the same as the Audi A4. Headroom is a little tight for six footers.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): Build quality issues are apparent with rattles and squeaks when driving over less than perfect surfaces. This is unforgivable in this premium segment. Competitors do it much better.

Visibility: Visibility all around is very good, and the seating position is ideal for good vehicle placement.

Climate: The climate system seemed to work fine during our winter test. The heated seats and steering wheel fired up quickly, and there was ample air movement.

Safety

6.3

 

The Q50 does well in crash tests but suffers when it comes to possessing any vehicle-to-pedestrian crash avoidance technology and headlights. It fails to earn any awards. There are some good standard and optional safety features to help it.

IIHS Rating: It earns "good" ratings in all crash tests but the headlights only receive "acceptable" and "marginal" depending on trim level.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested.

Standard Tech: Our tester came with Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Backup Collision Intervention, and an Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection.

Optional Tech: copy text

Storage/Cargo

7

 

Very few sports sedans have capacious storage and cargo space (only the hatchback area of the Kia Stinger excels). While the Q50 isn't the smallest in the segment when it comes to trunk space, it only manages to be about average.

Storage Space: There's not much accessible small item storage in the cabin, which makes the interior that much worse. The small retractable door in the center stack is almost useless. Only the armrest and cupholders are usable. The door pockets are painfully short.

Cargo Room: 13.5 cubic feet of trunk space isn't huge, but the load floor is flat. The trunk opening isn't especially wide, though.

Fuel Economy

6

 

The twin-turbo V6 makes you want to mash the gas most of the time (in Sport mode, naturally), so fuel economy isn't the greatest. 22 combined mpgs are slightly worse than BMW, Audi, and Genesis.

Observed: 16.3 mpg.

Distance Driven: 47 miles.

Audio

8

 

The Bose 16-speaker premium audio system is a good one, and it thankfully comes standard on the Q50 400 Red Sport. Sound is clear and provides good bass and clarity. We enjoyed listening to it.



Final Thoughts

The Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD is a capable sports sedan with a great engine. It's also a looker, especially with the special paint and the dark chrome and carbon fiber exterior bits. It's too bad the car gets hampered by its Jurassic-era interior, iffy build quality, and poor infotainment setup. If all you care about is the engine, then this is the sports sedan for you. If your druthers extend beyond that, look elsewhere.
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