To say I was annoyed with myself would be a dramatic understatement. Understeer?! Really? I’m driving a twin-turbo, RWD, V6 sport sedan and I’m scrubbing the fronts two turns into the handling course. Frankly, I’m ashamed of myself. There’s really no need for it.
Luckily, Infiniti has a solution. 400 of them in fact. So I brush the brake to pin the front, take a little less lock out of the steering to lighten the burden and stab the throttle – hard. The back end lights up like Diwali and I’m suddenly chasing the wheel back the other way to arrest what can only be described as a fantastic, extroverted power slide, before pulling to a stop and pretending I did it all on purpose.
Infiniti promises that Red Sport models will always be a step-up in performance over the lower trims, and never just an aesthetic package.
So yeah, the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is fun to drive. Well it is in this configuration. We’re in the US, driving the Red Sport the way the US will get them: Rear-wheel drive. Here in the great white north where it snows and insurance companies are winning the information wars the high-po Q50 will only be available in all-wheel drive.
You can expect Red Sport to be Infiniti’s tag for all of its performance models and trims going forward, a’la F Sport for Lexus and S Line for Audi. Infiniti promises that Red Sport models will always be a step-up in performance over the lower trims, and never just an aesthetic package.
Visually the Q50 is unchanged from the first generation, but from this year on two new power trains are coming on. Gone is the award-winning 3.7L V6, in its place a base 2.0T four cylinder derived from Mercedes-Benz and a 3.0L twin-turbo V6. The V6 comes in two configurations broken down into 300 hp and 400 hp editions. There’s also a hybrid which Infiniti is targeting a five-percent take rate for.
The 2.0T will be available in the base trims. It produces 208 hp at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft between 1,500 and 3,500. This is the same engine found in the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and in the upcoming Infiniti QX30 series. Fuel economy for the 2.0T is around 10 percent better than the six at 10.6/8.4/9.6 L/100 km city/highway/combined. The V6 is rated at 12.3/8.5/10.6 in 300 hp mode and 12.8/9.1/11.1 for the 400 hp engine. All three engine formats get an all-Infiniti seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Present at our test was the US-spec RWD Red Sport 400 trim in two guises. One, with the Direct Adaptive drive-by-wire steering, the second with the conventional electric steering – though this year with a rack mount instead of column mount.
Infiniti’s new generation of steering promises better road feel and weight than the previous. The base electric steering now employs a rack-mounted servo to boost the steering. It feels lighter than the Direct Adaptive Steering despite having a proper mechanical connection to the front wheels.