The Infiniti Q50 Red Sport isn’t MOTOR material. That’s the brutal, yet truthful, summation on DQV 36E after five months in our garage.
Sure, it’s a goer. That hulking twin-turbo six powertrain ensured easy sub-5.0sec runs to 100km/h and 12.0sec quarters at Bang For Your Bucks.
This makes it a weapon from traffic lights. It will lazily squirt ahead of an A45 or RS3 if neither has programmed launch control when the trees flash up in green. But this behaviour quickly works up a thirst.
Our chunk of driving has been commuting to and from work, with racetrack testing, highway driving, and cross-Melbourne runs mixed in along the way. This saw it sink 11.8 litres of fuel per 100km on average, with a peak of 14.75 one month, which is hardly criminal for a powerful twin-turbo V6 and better than what we managed in our resident Ford Focus RS LE.
If you’re watching fuel bills, though, don’t think you can help that with careful throttle inputs. The car’s Eco mode activates a pedal which pushes back against excess pressure, but is annoying and switched off almost immediately. On the other hand, Sport Plus mode holds engine revs way too long while the seven-speed automatic can shift a bit clunkily.
You instead settle for Standard mode and its poor throttle calibration. Here you constantly feather between 10-20 per cent throttle as the powertrain either gives you too much thrust, or too little like it’s developed lethargy.
We’ll happily admit the Q50 is a decent looker in Red Sport form. Even though its Pure White hue sucks the contrast out of its sculpted surfaces while other colours bring them to life.
But stay away from corners. The brakes don’t last long against the massive velocities it can reach, as Luffy bravely demonstrated at Winton Raceway. The run-flat tyres aren’t exactly sporting, either, and that steer-by-wire system is worse news than Y2K for keen drivers.
Geek Speak: How steer-by-wire works
Yes, the steering has been easy enough to live with on Melbourne’s grid-like streets, but it’s hopeless when any precision is required or feedback is wanted. Which is all the time on a racetrack, curving road, or when you need to park in a tight space.
Perhaps more unsettling is how much control the dual-motor steering rack hands to the myriad safety systems. There’s everything from active-lane control that silently adjusts your steering angle in the background at speeds over 70km/h, to activating trace control that does the same for brake pressure (but reduces in Sport mode and turns off completely when ESP is disabled).
The occasional tugging at the wheel feels like you’re in something controlled by Skynet from Terminator, rather than you.
And that’s why this isn’t a MOTOR car. You can sense the Q50 was created to prioritise autonomous technology rather than the needs or wants of the driver. That fearsome engine bolted between its strut towers feels more like an afterthought, fitted because someone could, rather than because they should.
We marvelled at Infiniti’s bravery in handing us the keys to a Q50 Red Sport. We didn’t exactly fawn over it in our first review. Nor did we give its sexier cousin, the Q60, much love in a three-way comparison against chief European rivals.
No brief flings on MOTOR long-term reviews
Frankly, we wouldn’t buy one. A BMW 340i isn’t sparkling with driver connection and it costs $10K more, but it feels so much more resolved and freshly designed – it’s hard to believe the current 3 Series is actually two years older than the Q50.
It could ruffle a few feathers at the local drags, but this is not a car that would make us look forward to a weekend fang. We’d wait to see what comes of the rumoured Z replacement and the news it will use this exact twin-turbo six.
If you want a well-priced sedan with cracking power and good safety tech, we’d pocket $20K and look at a Kia Stinger GT. It’s a little bigger, but it’s just as fast, steers better, and champions the driver, rather than the computer, more than the Infiniti.
2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport Pros & Cons
Three things we fell for:
1 - The grunt
2 - Adaptive cruise
3 - Features
Three things we got sick of:
1 - Headroom
2 - Throttle tune
3 - Steering