There are some serious rumours circling Nissan that say it’s given a 370Z successor the green light. And if there’s truth to the reports, then the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport is the biggest clue as to how this Mustang-slayer might drive.
That’s because the engine billed for the future Z car is mooted as our Red Sport’s very own 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, complete with its current 298kW and 475Nm. Z fans might groan louder than pop’s sofa at the idea of a turbocharged Fairlady, but there’s not much they’re going to miss.
During recent testing for Bang For Your Bucks 2018 (coming soon!), we had the opportunity to play with the Infiniti while its testers were taking a tea break. Okay, we know better than anyone how allergic the Infiniti is to corners, but that VR30DTT in its nose deserved a chance to let its horses gallop in a non-policed environment.
With a drag strip laid in the middle of the infield, we took the opportunity to unleash the Q50 Red Sport up its guts a couple times. And boy, it gives nothing away to its naturally aspirated stablemates for response.
Each turbocharger gets its own intercooler. And because their radiator fins are bathed in water, rather than air, they can be placed anywhere without needing to consider incoming airflow – such as the top of the cylinder heads.
With the turbochargers nestled into each side of the 60-degree banked block, the charged air spouted by their compressors only have to make a short trip upwards into the V6’s plasma-coated cylinder bores.
Last month the Infiniti proved it could fire from 80-120km/h in a lazy 3.2 seconds in the car’s Standard drive mode. In the car’s more frenzied Sport Plus mode, though, that figure drops to 2.8. The acceleration obviously isn’t 911 Turbo brutal, but it’s rapid enough to halt your breath if you haven’t uncorked a fast car in a while.
Extending the measurement to 400 metres only reaffirmed how much of a rocket the future Z might be. With a seven-speed automatic that’s brisk, but hardly the last word in speed, the Infiniti’s launch strategy is fairly straight forward. It’ll stall up to around 2700rpm on the brake before it starts to break traction, then when you let go it tears off with a bit of wheelspin. No doubt a result of the engine’s 475Nm from as early as 1700rpm.
This turbo six mightn’t match the brawn of FPV’s late Barra-powered bruisers, but with the Infiniti’s 1784kg kerb weight undercutting those rigs by at least a rugby prop, it makes best use of its healthy power peak. The secret is ‘optical speed sensors’ on the Q50’s turbochargers. They’re claimed to increase the impellers’ maximum speeds to 240,000rpm and power to 298kW.
We once asked Infiniti Australia how they actually work and unlock more power, but we’d need a few more pages to explain it.
Will familiarity breed contempt or appreciation on MOTOR's long-term reviews
Either way, letting the Q50 scamper off the line drops 60km/h in 2.89 seconds, 100km/h in 5.37sec, then the quarter mile in 13.5sec at a recorded 175.22km/h. Quick, but we knew it could go faster.
Next run we reinstate ESP to tame the rear-end and after a soft stall-up 60km/h flashes by in 2.73sec, 100km/h takes 5.12sec, while the quarter mile drops in 13.23sec at 178.km/h. But it still wasn’t getting the best launch. So we switched strategies for the final run, opting to walk it away from the line.
The final run nailed it. It takes 2.5sec to clip 60km/h, 4.9 to 100km/h, and then 13 flat to pass 400m at 179.58km/h. Just a little bit of slip permits the right amount of traction as its rear 245mm Dunlops hook up.
Away from the actual Bang For Your Bucks results (the Infiniti took part in the 15-car strong competition) the Infiniti stacks up as a seriously quick car that’ll scare a few regulars at the local dragway. Roll-out would slash its times into 12-second territory. Pack it into a time machine and deliver it to previous Bang For Your Bucks, and it would even spank a 304kW Holden SS-V Redline Ute or a 345kW Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint.
Combine that punch with its demure looks, and the Q50 Red Sport presents as a genuine sleeper – something we love at MOTOR. But not every road is straight as the ones used here, and next month we’ll be saying goodbye (we delayed it by a month to tell this yarn) and weighing up its strengths and flaws.
Will we ever want it back? Stay tuned for the final verdict.
2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport Pros & Cons
Three things we fell for:
1 - The acceleration
2 - Heated seats
3 - Good looks
Three things we got sick of:
1 - No steering reach
2 - Thirsty engine
3 - Dated interior