2022 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Review: Conservative alternative
Q50 might be the name at the very bottom of the bowl in the alphabet soup of luxury model names. Red Sport 400, on the other hand? It might sound like the name of a NASCAR race or a new flavor of Mountain Dew, but at least it’s memorable. In actuality, Red Sport 400 is Infiniti’s top-tier, high-performance trim package for its long-running Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe. The 400 part refers to horsepower figure for the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6. The Red Sport part … sounds cool?
Before we get into how the Red Sport 400 came to be, let’s wind the clock back to the mid 2010s. Introduced in late 2013, the Q50 replaced the beloved Infiniti G37 compact. Though it retained its predecessor’s rear-wheel drive layout and VQ-series V-6 engine, the Q50’s styling was blander Infiniti’s much-hyped steer-by-wire system did not win affection. Now, nearly a decade later, all of this car’s competition has moved on to a new generation. Audi’s current-generation A4 arrived for the 2016 model year, BMW launched a new 3 Series for 2019, Cadillac replaced the ATS with the 2020 CT4, and Mercedes-Benz just introduced a new 2023 C-Class. There’s even a relative newcomer in the mix with the Genesis G70.
These are formidable foes. But after a week driving a Q50 Red Sport 400, this particular Infiniti may yet hold some appeal for premium buyers who prioritize subtlety and brand loyalty.
If the ordinary Q50 is the other white meat of the premium sedan segment, the Red Sport 400 is the sticky, sweet bourbon glaze. First available on the 2017 Q60 (the two-door coupe version of this car) the Red Sport 400 trim brought the VR-series twin-turbo six—an evolution of the long-running VQ-series engine—along with sport disc brakes, sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, and a bevy of interior upgrades. It remains available on both rear- and all-wheel-drive variants. Every Q50 comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder. Here, the difference is that the Q50 Red Sport 400 engine produces 400 horsepower rather than the base 300 ponies.
Ranking above the current Luxe and Sensory trims, the Red Sport 400 brings more of the same for 2022. A distinct nose and 19-inch aluminum wheels (both affixed to the Sensory) are included, as well as brushed dual exhaust tips. The price tag ($61,455, including a $1025 destination fee) reflects the Red Sport’s top rank, requiring about $15K more than base MSRP. This isn’t meant to be a full-bore BMW M fighter, and the price—lining up almost exactly to that of an Audi S4 Prestige—reflects its mid-tier performance.
Specs: 2022 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD
- Price: $58,975/$61,455 (base/as-tested)
- Powertrain: Twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6; seven-speed automatic
- Horsepower: 400 hp
- Torque: 350 lb-ft
- Layout: Rear- or all-wheel-drive four-door, five-passenger sedan
- Weight: 4019 lbs
- EPA-Rated Fuel Economy: 19/26/22 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
- 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
- Top Speed: 155 mph
- Competitors: BMW M340i, Mercedes-AMG C43, Genesis G70 3.3T, Audi S4
It’s not an M3, but it is fast. Or, I should say fast enough. This distinction is key. Too many sport sedans in this space pursue breakneck performance at the expense of comfort and drivability. Instead, the twin-turbo six remains quiet in the background until called upon for serious highway merging or playful stop light takeoffs. In those moments the V-6 is urgent and confident all the way up to its 6400-rpm power peak, but there is little theater in the mix. If you want whines, burbles, or crackles, it’s best look elsewhere. Maturity and reserve rule here.
Going isn’t the problem for the Q50; it’s the turning and stopping. Infiniti’s steer-by-wire system feels numb, and the brake pedal felt soft. The combination whispers “pontoon boat” more than it screams “sport sedan.” If Infiniti could tighten things up in these two areas, it would serve to wake up the overall driving experience. The base models can get away with the budget luxury cruiser vibe, but if you’re going to call it the Red Sport 400 …
This is, however, a decent-looking four-door—especially given its age. The paint, dubbed Dynamic Sunstone Red, plays a big role in the aesthetic success of this car. It’s moody and mysterious in shadow, sparkling in sunlight, and a blur of rich red in motion. The rounder body lines helps the Q50 stand out from the BMW, Audi, and Cadillac, which have all gone angular. Like the Genesis, this car is happy to leave the oversized grilles and racing stripes to the other guys.
That quiet confidence doesn’t quite translate to the interior, though, where barely mid-grade luxury materials fall flat. The general feel isn’t horribly far off from the $27,000 Nissan Sentra SR I reviewed earlier this year. (Quilted leather seats with matching red stitching and a woven carbon-fiber center console are the exceptions here.) Ergonomically the seats are fine, though the front buckets would benefit from something like a distinguishing massage feature to up the luxury flavor. The Bose stereo won’t elicit praise from audiophiles, but the 16-speaker system is, if anything, robust. The back seat is somewhat cramped, more like the CT4 than the 3 Series.
If there’s a bright spot here, it’s that these sedans—especially the Autobahn bullets—but be controlled via highly-complex, often-intimidating haptics, fussy touchpads, and numerous submenus. Space age mega screens have a way of distracted from the task at hand. The 2014-era tech here is oddly refreshing, even with the goofy tilting click-wheel and two stacked screens. The top one is reserved only for navigation and a back-up camera, which tells you how far infotainment has come since this dashboard was designed. Physical buttons flank each side of the dual display, something about which we will never complain. Given the intuitive nature of the center stack, it’s surprising that the steering wheel buttons are anything but, with odd symbols and strange toggles.
As far as comparable choices in this segment, the Infiniti’s biggest problem is that the Genesis G70 is simply better in every way that matters. Maybe the Red Sport 400 engine is a bit more charismatic, but the G70’s gorgeous interior, modern but approachable controls, and superior handling are undeniable. Only the most dedicated Infiniti and Nissan fans have much of a reason to stay loyal to the Q50. So if you were one of those high-schoolers who wanted an SE-R, or a tuner with a 350Z in the early 2000s, you won’t be let down. When it’s time to take the kids to practice or pick up milk from the store in a hurry, this Infiniti is up to the task. You’ll look good, at least. But you’d likely feel better driving any of the Red Sport 400’s rivals.
2022 Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD
Price: $58,975/$61,455 (base/as-tested)
Highs: Quiet, confident powertrain. Reserved yet handsome exterior styling. Approachable controls, though not state of the art.
Lows: Underwhelming interior materials. Uninspired steering and braking. Cramped back seat.
Takeaway: The 2022 Q50 Red Sport 400 is a conservative alternative, if that’s your preferred flavor.