LOS ANGELES—On the heels of the Infiniti Q60’s update for the 2021 model year, we jumped back into the 2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD for a test of the sportiest version of the Q60’s four-door sibling. The Q50 has been on sale for quite some time, first unveiled in 2013, but the Red Sport variant came along in 2016 to keep things fresh. And even though it’s been around the block, the sedan is still visually striking, with crisp bodywork made more elegant with flowing lines, a melding of sport and luxury.
The real star of the show is the twin-turbo V-6 which produces 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. We just got a look at the Nissan Z Proto, which previews the pending 400Z sports car, and test driving the 2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 for a week only made us more excited to see what this smooth and powerful engine can do in an even more performance-dedicated platform.
That’s enough dreaming about the future, though; a week with the Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD was enough to get a sense of whether or not this sedan belongs in the present or if it’s time to consider it an old timer.
2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Test: Highway Hero
The standard all-wheel-drive system helps offset the compromise of the standard all-season tires when it’s time to accelerate off of the line. Infiniti claims a 0-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds, and the 2021 Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD certainly feels as though it’s that quick from a standstill.
Our test car had Infiniti’s $698 dealer-installed axle-back Sport Exhaust Kit equipped, which sounds particularly good after you roll down the windows, execute a couple of downshifts, and indulge in a quick pull through a tunnel. The transmission is responsive and delivers quick gear changes, and when I had clear roads ahead of me, I couldn’t help but squeeze the throttle and let the potent engine carry me away.
As such, the Q50 Red Sport 400 is truly at home on the freeway, especially on the almost perfect toll roads south of Los Angeles in Orange County. Critics have been tough on the Q50 Red Sport 400’s steer-by-wire and brake-by-wire systems, and indeed the steering is vague and light in the Normal drive mode. It approaches something approximating “decent” when you switch the drive mode all the way up to Sport Plus. The brake feel is less of an issue, though; I had no problem getting the car to slow smoothly.
The adaptive sport suspension is very taut, which is great when the road is nice, but the car responds to road imperfections with frenetic jitters, even in the most comfort-oriented settings.
2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 Test: More Sport than Luxury
Our test car featured optional Slate Gray premium paint ($695) and standard white seats with beautiful quilted bolstering. The cabin was also trimmed with matte-black carbon fiber, which gives it a much sportier look than other Q50 variants. The cabin itself feels somewhat cramped, and many of the storage compartments are a smidge smaller than you’d probably expect. For example, the area underneath the center armrest is too small to stow a Google Pixel 2 XL plugged into the USB port.
Once I managed to find places for all of my stuff in the cabin, and after a week in the driver’s seat, I found myself liking the anachronistic but still useful dual-screen system. I was able to project my phone to the top display while showing the radio interface on the bottom; the displays may look like they’re last-generation technology, but they get the job done.
Infiniti also added some options to this test car to upgrade the entire package. On the outside, the carbon-fiber package ($1,520) adds a carbon-fiber spoiler and mirror caps, which complement the interior nicely. Illuminated doorsill kick plates ($485) add a classy touch, and rear USB ports ($145) give rear-seat passengers convenient charging. Finally, the cargo package ($270) adds an extra layer of carpeted protection in the trunk, plus a super useful cargo net, a first aid kit, and a shopping-bag hook. In all, our test car had some thoughtful inclusions that somewhat made me forget about the cabin’s compromised appointments.
The base price for the 2021 Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD we tested is $58,775, which places it on our list of the most affordable cars producing between 400 and 500 hp. After factoring in the modest assortment of optional equipment, the final price comes out to $61,890. In the end, the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport AWD looks great, but its performance and interior fall short of offering the refinement you might expect today from a luxury sports sedan in this segment. It may still have the speed to keep up with contemporary rivals, but here’s hoping something new is indeed on the horizon.
|2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD Specifications|
|PRICE||$58,775/$61,890 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||3.0L twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/400 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 1,600 rpm|
|LAYOUT||4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan|
|EPA MILEAGE||19/26 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||189.6 x 71.8 x 57.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5 sec|
|TOP SPEED||155 mph|