Aussies are in love according to Francois Bancon, Infiniti’s global product boss.
“For many reasons,” he said to MOTOR at the Melbourne F1, “[Australia] is probably one of the last countries in the world where people love to drive – they love power, they love the ‘primitive’ part of the drive. It’s a significant market, because people love cars.”
We do. And it’s clear Bancon understands Australians also love a bargain. Because the Q50 Red Sport, at $79,990, is priced well clear of anything else with close to 298kW, 475Nm, and a luxury focus. The Jaguar XE S, Audi’s S4, and Mercedes-AMG’s C43 are all around $100K.
Yet, last month I punted the Infiniti through some corners and I didn’t enjoy the experience. Its steer-by wire steering was vague, its tyres didn’t grip, and its suspension could never keep its weight settled.
There was power, heaps of it, but that doesn’t fully satisfy the ‘primitive’ feeling we crave from fast cars. It left me confused with Bancon’s thorough understanding of our automotive psyche.
It sent me in search of the bright side of this long termer, or some love, so to speak, to cure the blues it gave me in the corners. Some solid highway time was pencilled in as the fix, which would give me time to meditate on driving without throttle steer or trail braking.
On the highway you feel like you could definitely live with the Infiniti as a day-to-day cruiser. Its ride, for one, is plush with plenty of suspension travel. Yes, a lack of body-control (at least in standard mode) means the car takes a while to settle, but it gives the car’s primary ride more compliance than those Dunlop run-flats deserve.
Brake-pedal feel is good, too; it’s full of feedback and power. Meanwhile, the Infiniti’s headlights are great. The spread of light is long, bright, and low to the ground, perfect for approaching cars without intimidating them.
The Q50’s power is fearsome. That twin-turbo six always seems on call – if you can get the throttle input right – and rushes into its power band almost instantly with minimal lag. In standard mode, 80-120km/h vanishes in 3.2sec.
The interior’s a mixed bag. There’s generous leather splashed around, with semi-aniline dead cow under your rump, and metal speaker covers to make it feel fancy enough at this price.
On the other hand, the foot-operated park brake, Windows 2000-esque LCD in the dash and sat-nav, and fat horn button hint the five-year-old interior’s getting on a bit. Ergonomics, however, don’t age. And the Infiniti acquits itself well in this regard. There’s plenty of room between the seat and door for your hands to adjust the controls, while everything is within easy reach and easily spotted.
Functionality is not as simple, though, as it’s difficult to know what controls what. The top-screen seems dedicated to navigation, but will display HVAC stuff. Meanwhile, the bottom screen, seemingly dedicated to everything else, can program sat-nav.
I like that its (adaptive) cruise control displays your set speed on the dash and the central LCD has a digital speed readout. I don’t like that it can hunt around your set velocity and you can’t set cruise if a car’s within the maximum radar distance until you decrease it.
The BOSE sound system packs almost as many features as speakers (16!) and thumps with clarity. It’s not the last word on power, or fullness, but it’s worth a good song. You don’t get any botchy engine noise through the speakers at cruising speeds in standard mode, either. When up-it some colleagues rue the artificial engine note, but I can’t really tell it’s fake. I like it.
Seat-wise the hip-point puts me too close to the roof, and I’m only 178cm, however, the new seat foam is serene. The lack of bolster means they’re big-bloke friendly, too. Which sort of sums up the car’s vibe: it’s a comfy cruiser that’s big on punch, and sprinkled with pinches of luxury.
Toast of the town or roast of the evening on Long-term reviews
Next month, it’s time to say goodbye. Before it goes, we’ll be asking the public what they think of our Infiniti at a glance. Let’s see if it can make a lasting mark.
2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport Pros & Cons
Three things we fell for:
1 - Plush seats
2 - Gun headlights
3 - Brake feel
Three things we got sick of:
1 - Headroom
2 - Foot brake
3 - Sat-nav graphics