A proper sporty Infiniti – well, well who would’ve thought?
Photos by Azfar Hashim
You wouldn’t associate the word ‘sporty’ to Infiniti, ever; because there was never an Infiniti model that is sporty enough to immediately make enthusiasts seat up and pay attention. Well the turbocharged 2.0-litre Q50 sounded – somewhat, just somewhat – ‘sporty’ when you put it next to its competitors, but the driving experience was no where close.
Perhaps the fellas over at Infiniti really, really, really wanted to produce one oh-so-badly. So finally parent Nissan agreed, and allowed them to shoehorn a GTR into a Q50; tadaa, say hello to the Q50 Eau Rouge. Exciting times ahead for Infiniti, it seems, as this is their chance to pit something against the established AMG, M and even RS.
Unfortunately it failed to make a good case in terms of dollars and cents. In theory, this car makes sense as it completes the Q50’s model line-up. But interest among buyers are measly, and so sadly, the idea of producing it was scrapped.
Perhaps going all out bonkers with a true performance sedan was something of a big risk for Infiniti; like the saying ‘learn to crawl first before walking’, they should try competing in a league one rung below where the take up rate for such cars are more promising.
Thus explaining the existence of this – take a deep breath – Q50 Red Sport 400. Oh and by the way, ‘400’ denote the number of horses under the bonnet.
A maximum output of 400 bhp at 5,500 rpm and 475 Nm of torque available from as low as 1,750 rpm, and needs only 5.1 seconds to get from zero to hero - all possible thanks to the direct-injection VR30DDTT 3.0-litre V6 engine fitted with a pair of turbochargers, which is mated to a 7-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.
Those numbers do not lie though, as this Q50 is mental fast. You do not need much effort to wake it up; in fact, half throttle is already enough to slap your license with some demerit points. Go full on pedal to metal and you could reach Orchard Road from Changi Airport at the blink of an eye; ok literally, but you get the idea. This was done in ‘Standard’ mode, too.
If you were to ask me how tenacious was the car in its extreme mode (Sport+), I am glad to report that it would, in no way, lose out to its German competitors, the 340i and C43 AMG. Then because it’s a rear-wheel drive, the g-force delivered as it rockets forward does throw you into the seat; this was good for a hearty laughter and pub talk for later…
Speaking of which, that little surprise also hid the car’s weight issue; at 1,740 kg, it is actually the heaviest next to the C43 AMG (1,690 kg) and 340i M-Sport (1,615 kg). Bet you weren’t expecting that.
Carbon fibre wing mirrors - "Weight reduction, bro."
Oh how rear-wheel drive cars these days could handle almost as well as their all-wheel drive counterparts. I’m sure your guess would be the Q50 would be a handful to handle when the road turns twisty, no?
The Q50 actually goes against that thought, in the very sense that it could handle anything from fast bends to tight corners with so much confidence; the electric steering, despite the artificial weight, responds well to steering inputs and this was complimented by body movements that are perfectly controlled along with a suspension system that keeps up. I’m sorry Mercedes-Benz, but this Q50 here feels whole and more sorted than the C43 AMG.
Back to being a civil creature. In Standard, it has a balanced suspension set-up that is good enough for daily km munching. Undeniably, the factory fitted low profile 245/40 R-19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 050 run-flat rubbers do make the ride slightly stiffer, but along our expressway, it’s hard to fault the car still. If all out comfort is what you seek, then let me show you Nissan’s Teana instead.
Driving aids galore!
Now down to the less exciting details. The cockpit is a lovely place to be in – the seat’s both supportive and comfortable – and the rear bench is snug for two adults with adequate head and legroom. Standard with this flagship Q50 are a host of driving aids – namely lane departure warning, blind spot warning, emergency braking, forward collision warning system and all-round parking sensor with camera, just to name a few. Best of all, it also has auto cruise control – set your preferred cruising speed, the distance you would like to be from the car ahead (between one to three) and all you need to do is just steer. That said, the system is so alert that even if a motorcycle were to cut right infront, the car brakes for you and a plethora of alert and warning chimes come to life – kinda like being in the ER. Yup, it happened to me on the PIE late one night…
I’ll be honest. The Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 is a satisfying car to drive as it is endowed with traits you would expect from a high-performance sedan - brilliant power delivery and handling, the ability to be a relaxing car when you need it to and a good cabin.
Perhaps what would also draw buyers to it is this: Subtlety.
You get the GTR's paddle-shifter here as standard