The new Infiniti Q50S Red Sport is the red car that really does go faster

OK, so it's a long-running play on the red race car thing – and, possibly, flashy sports cars such as Ferraris – except that with Infiniti's latest Q50 sports sedan there's some truth to the catchphrase.

That's because Red Sport refers to the model, not the colour (red is one of eight colour choices) – which happens to be the performance hero of the Q50 range.

Finding the sweet spot

The Q50 competes in the sweet spot of the luxury car market –  midsize sedans.

Think BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and Volvo S60.

It's a busy segment, and one dominated by the German trio.

The Q50 lineup starts with the base model GT ($54,900) and finishes with the $79,900 Red Sport tested here.

Like most of its rivals it drives the rear wheels, something aimed at boosting driving excitement, especially with this Red Sport hero.

Brand power

Not that it's easy going for the Q50.

Starting any new automotive brand is tough; buyers are naturally sceptical and tend to like to see some history in the market before splashing out tens of thousands of dollars.


That sentiment is multiplied with luxury brands, even if they are owned by established mainstream players (Infiniti is the luxury arm of Nissan).

No surprise, then, that things have been slow for Infiniti, an international brand with its headquarters in Hong Kong but a heritage tracing back to Japan and its biggest market in America.

​Release the power

Where the Q50 Red Sport makes up marks is with its engine.

The 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 pumps out 298kW of power – that's almost double what the base Q50 manages.

For that sort of performance in a European luxury sedan of this size you'd be paying well into six figures.

Brisk and flexible

It's genuinely brisk, scorching towards the national speed limit in less than five seconds and runs through a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The engine is deceptively flexible across its rev range, pulling strongly from only a few thousand revs.

And the auto transmission is relatively tall geared, so it's not changing gears furiously as you're accelerating. As a result, it's fairly relaxed and builds speed deceptively.

Rev head

Those who yearn for some gadgetry in their sporty sedan will like mucking around with the drive modes in the Q50 Red Sport.

There's a little bit of PlayStation to its various driver settings.

Some of the active safety features, including lane keeping assistance and a form of torque vectoring called Active Trace Control, can also be tweaked to your preference.

There are five pre-programmed settings – Standard, Eco, Snow, Sport and Sport+.

Eco and Snow are useless in most situations, with Standard a good everyday setting.

Sport sharpens things nicely, while Sport+ takes it a step too far, particularly with the steering, which darts the nose at the slightest movement of the wheel.

Loading up

As with the performance, the more-for-less thinking flows through to the list of equipment, too.

There are two touchscreens, for example – a 7.0-inch screen at the bottom and an 8.0-inch screen up top.

As well as LED headlights there's a sunroof, powered front seats and a Bose sound system (it's good but not as punchy as some).

The trim includes quilted leather, silver-look finishes and red stitching arranged around a boldly styled cabin with prominent angles and sweeps. Plus some more innovative extras, such as the Backup Collision Intervention, which automatically applies the brakes to avoid objects when reversing.

Good, but not perfect

All of which results in a well priced and generously appointed luxury car with a sporting bent.

It's agile and fun to drive, if lacking some of the cohesiveness and elegance of some rivals.

One area the Q50 struggles against its better known competitors, though, is with what it's likely to be worth in a few years.

Resale values haven't been as strong as, say Mercedes-Benz.

That's all part of the journey that is establishing a luxury brand.

SUVs the flavour

Infiniti has some fresh metal coming, including the QX50 midsized SUV late in 2018.

As well as a fresh look, the QX50 will debut an all-new engine with a variable compression ratio.

Various brands have been working on the technology but Infiniti (and its parent Nissan) will be the first to put it in a production car.

Efficiency first

As the description suggests, the engine varies its compression ratio depending on what it's asked to do.

It means fewer compromises and better efficiency. Infiniti claims it'll deliver petrol punch with diesel efficiency.

It's that sort of innovative thinking that could make the brand more visible to more people.

The hulking QX80 is also getting a more mellow look as part of an update, while the Q70 sedan is in for a 2018 update too.