Technology is a good thing. It enables the advancement of ideas, propels evolution, and pushes forward efforts around innovation. At its best, the pursuit of technology turns the imagination of dreams into real and actual things you and I can use to create a better experience.
So it is with the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. This is an enthusiast’s car, one enhanced with technology to be better, and to go faster, than ever before. To that end, I drove a luxed-up Q50 Red Sport 400 around a short loop of select corners and with plenty of space to run. As with all Red Sport 400s, the all-wheel-drive test vehicle was powered by a sweet 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine making 400 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The Q50 Red Sport 400 wears 19-inch alloys with run-flat tires, and sport brakes wearing racy red calipers. Additional features that come as part of the $53,000 sticker price include special exterior and interior design cues, and Red Sport 400 exhaust tips.
My ride also came with two optional packages: a Sensory Package featuring the Bose Performance Series 16-speaker surround sound system, and the Nissan Proactive Package featuring electronic helpers like a lane departure prevention system, adaptive front lighting, and distance control assist. All in, the sticker price of my test vehicle was $61,710.
That’s a lot.
And it feels like a lot, as well, when you’re sitting inside the cabin. The seats are comfortable and snug, with quilted bolsters that hold you in place during aggressive driving. Black leather abounds, with chrome trim and with double red stitching throughout, including the shifter. Overall, the materials have a substantial quality feel to them, from the buttons and door panel inserts to the headliner and newly revised steering wheel.
All this creates a distinctly luxurious feel to the interior. The only relatively significant drawback is noise. Though Infiniti says it took pains to improve noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), I found the cabin’s ambiance compromised by road noise and tire chatter coming up from the 19-inch run flats.
That’s okay, though, for one reason…or make that 16 reasons, as in the Bose Performance Series 16-speaker surround sound system with aluminum grilles. A part of the Sensory Package, the sound system creates an ambiance all its own and takes passengers with it, through deeply rich and crisp audio quality.
Additional and notable tech includes the Infiniti Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts body and ride rigidity in order to better optimize cornering. This system can assess body roll and other factors in order to give the driver a customized ride and handling character. Standard mode is meant for comfort, while Sport and Sport+ modes are, well, for a sporting drive.
Thunderous power and poise
There are three things to love about the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400. First, that sound system. It’s amazing, and gives ample reason to sit inside the cabin, turn up the volume, close your eyes, and enjoy the audio before hitting the start button.
Second, the Q50 Red Sport 400 is, to my eyes, the embodiment of a beautiful, taut and athletic performance sedan. The tight lines, strong shoulders and sporting stance depicts an in-motion, sprinting vehicle with an aggressive vein evidenced by the blackened wheels and revised mesh grille.
Finally, exercising the engine is like jumping into the mosh pit of a Viking slam dance poetry concert. It’s powerful, crazy, yet still refined. Step on the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6 engine’s accelerator, and all 400 horsepower get up and gallop – quickly. Hit the throttle while merging onto a freeway and you’ll be treated to a powerful surge that puts you back into the driver’s seat with a big fat grin. Yep, highway noise and tire whine is a drawback for a car that costs over $60,000, but heck, just turn the radio up and dig into the powerplant a bit more. Problem solved. Steering, on the other hand, felt a little distant, without what I would expect to be a stronger connection to the road. Granted, my drive was probably too short to provide a full opinion of Infiniti’s second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering. Also known as steer-by-wire, it uses electric signals and removes the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and tires.
Technology is, most of the time, a great thing. It pushes us forward, creates opportunities to evolve and grow in new and unexpected directions. But sometimes, too much technology can disguise the beauty and power already built into a car. One wonders, in fact, if the 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 would be a better performance sedan with good old-fashioned rear-wheel drive, mechanical steering and fewer electronic nannies guiding the car down the road.
Strip those elements out of this car and what you have is a sexy sports sedan with a great engine that handles well and has an awesome sound system. Does it really get any better than that?