HELLO! MONTH one
FUEL THIS MONTH 12.1L/100KM
DISTANCE THIS MONTH 730KM
Muscle-car grunt, executive looks
Steering feel, weight and feedback
The red ‘S’ is a clever, but ultimately confusing, way of denoting this Q50’s variant name
THE KEY to a long-term relationship, common sense suggests, is picking someone you actually like in the first place. It doesn’t matter what characteristics pique your heart, that there are positives to focus on is crucial when one of you starts foraging for ear wax in front of the other. Which makes things awkward for our newest garage addition.
We don’t mean to be cynical, but our first couple of dates with Infiniti’s Red Sport offerings didn’t end happily. The coupe version was thumped by BMW and Lexus in a three-way stoush, while our first meeting with the four-door Q50 you see here didn’t leave us any more impressed.
Romance once existed. Infiniti’s aggressively styled sedan caught our eye four years ago when flaunted as the Eau Rouge concept. It was a working prototype shoved full of GT-R goodness, specifically its 3.8-litre twin-turbo V6, that promised to pick M3s and C63s from its teeth.
There was all-wheel drive, Sebastien Vettel’s input and 412kW to raise heartbeats. The belief that Infiniti would deliver a genuine right hook to its rivals swelled under Andy Palmer’s leadership, a self-confessed car nut who briefly took charge of the Hong Kong-based firm.
But then he left, and the concept was dropped. In the Eau Rouge’s wake the Red Sport was born. The names sound similar, but we quickly learnt the recipes weren’t. Yes, it had power. And the Red Sport thrust Infiniti’s all new twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 into the spotlight, replacing the 3.5-litre hybrid powertrain as the burliest offering. Like the GT-R’s engine, it has coated bores, lightweight internals and debuts air-to-water intercoolers, turbine manifolds moulded to the cylinder heads, and a square 86mm bore-tostroke ratio. It sends 298kW/475Nm through a seven-speed auto.
Other markets have the choice of all-wheel drive, but given the lack of snow in Australia, we’ve been dealt rear-drive cars only. Which is where the first of its problems start to surface. That’s a lot of stonk for a pair of 245mm Dunlops sandwiching an open diff. Especially with thrust like this. It arrives like a tidal wave early in the rev-range which can often catch out the rear axle.
There’s spookiness at the limit, too, where its stability system and chassis balance never seem trustworthy. We also suspect ‘run-flat’ Dunlops don’t help. But the biggest problem lies with its steering, the industry’s first by-wire interface. It’s all very clever, but it given the weirdness of the helm, it seems to fall into the “answers to the questions nobody was asking” category. Maybe we’ll get used to it.
We know, there’s all this animosity and yet here we are on the couch, flicking through channels, realising we’re stuck with each other for a while. Why have we done this? The Q50 has undergone a small refresh that’s worth noting. The interior and exterior have been slightly tweaked.
Details introduced on the coupe Q60 RS have been brought across, like the 19-inch wheel design, and its grown side scoops on its chin. And we do admire the Infiniti at times. While it didn’t arrive in gorgeous Dynamic Sunstone Red, our Majestic White example looks aggressive – one punter even thought it was a Maserati.
The engine’s strong, and there are glimpses of talent in the bends. The standard specification list is bulging with every safety tech under the sun, along with a decent sound system and fearsome brakes.
So what will we do over the next four months? Naturally, we’ll take an excuse to unleash that V6 properly, and we’ll dissect the ride, handling, and chassis further. Don’t rule out someone testing its practicality, either.
With more reflection, there are some positives. So we’re sticking this one out to try and get to know the Q50 better over the long run. Because everyone deserves a second chance.