Review: Infiniti Q50S Red Sport 400

Mention Maserati to people who aren’t enthusiasts and they will oh and ah that thing to infinity. But I don’t really understand Maseratis. Sure, they are great-looking cars, but all the Maserati sedans look kind of alike to me. They are also notoriously unreliable and very expensive to maintain and repair. Let us not even discuss their depreciation. Personally, every time I see someone with a Maserati sedan I ask myself – why didn’t that person just buy an Infiniti Q50 sedan? 

Both Maserati and Infiniti sedans are focused on design and performance. Chassis layout, size, and other similarities between the two vehicles make them appealing to similar audiences, albeit with slightly different budgets. Both get a bonus for not being another Benz or a Bimmer. Fitted with louder exhaust systems, they even kind of sound similarly. Except that the Infiniti doesn’t have those Maserati negatives.

Nissan’s Corporate Drama 

First, let’s get some things out of the way about the Infiniti Q50. It’s an aged chassis and design, especially for this segment. Its looks have always been an evolution of the original G35 sedan. While remaining quite nice, has lost some of its original appeal. Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, has had some financial and managerial troubles in recent times and the corporate line-up of its vehicles shows it. But, I am convinced that they are in recovery mode and they are trying.  

Nissan’s approach seems to be very good. Being constrained by budget and time, they are taking what they already have and improving it. For instance, the new Pathfinder ditched its CVT, instantly improving the driving characteristics. The new rugged design is on the mark, too. The Nissan Frontier finally reached a new generation and it should make anyone buying a Tacoma do a double-take like it did in the 1980s. And there is the upcoming Z, with great power, a manual transmission, and a reasonable price, making the BMW Supra questioning its purpose in life. 

The Insides 

This 400-horsepower twin-turbo Q50S absolutely surprised me in so many ways. It started with its size. The Q35/37 and Q50 sedans always seemed a little bigger than, say the Lexus IS or BMW 3-series but smaller than the GS and 5-series. And this holds true today, too. In all dimensions, the cabin is wider and more spacious than in the current Lexus IS and BMW 3-series. The seats seem wider and bigger, too. At 6’2” and 230-pounds, not only did I feel very comfortable in it, even on longer drives, but I had no issues getting in and out of it, front or rear.  

The front seats on this 400-hp model had expandable lower cushions, adjustable side bolsters, and were heated and ventilated. Large windows add to the airy feel of the cabin and yield good visibility. Overall, this is an excellent place to spend a few hours in, be it a road trip or a drive-in movie.  

Introduced as a 2014 model, the dash of the Q50 seems dated but it’s not bad. At its launch, the Q50 was one of the first vehicles to feature double display screens. At that time it really didn’t work; it was weird, confusing, and not intuitive. But small electronics technology changes much faster than automotive technology. When Android Auto and Apple CarPlay were introduced, most automakers had issues with the proper integration of those systems. But in this case, the Infiniti Q50 was ahead. The top touchscreen is now used for either factory navigation or the phone interface. The lower touchscreen controls climate, audio sources, and other settings. Console knob and buttons, and auxiliary steering wheel controls, create a rather solid interface for the infotainment system.  

Vroom and Zoom 

VR30DDTT. You may want to remember that as this is the engine code for this twin-turbocharged 3-liter power plant which will soon appear under the hood of the 2023 Nissan Z. For now it is available in the Infiniti Q50 and Q60 coupe. Specs say that this engine, exclusively mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission in the Infinitis, makes 400hp at 6,400rpm and 350-lb-ft of torque between 1,600 – 5,200rpm. But on the road, this engine sure seems healthier than that, pulling the 4,000-pound sedan with more authority than I expected. The whoosh of turbos at WOT always induced grins.  

The chassis is equally complaint but the Q50 is more of a grand tourer than a sports car. It prefers long highway curves to tight circuits. It is also less playful than the IS or the Genesis G70, both of which have a nice allowance for induced oversteer in Sport Mode, while the Infiniti tries to keep its driver on the straight and narrow. At the same time, The Q50 has a better ride over rougher roads.  

The Good Maserati 

Having spent a week with this Infiniti Q50S, I was very impressed with it. Yes, it may seem aged but I am not sure if that really matters. That’s because The Q50S does all the things it was designed to do really well. It looks great, it is very comfortable, and it’s fast. With a starting price of $55,950, it has the added benefit of topping out in price at the entry point of the least expensive Maserati, with none of the long-term effects. The Q50S is not the Eau Rouge Prototype GT-R sedan that Sebastian Vettel was taunting in 2014, but it is a very good sport sedan.

4 Comments

  1. The Q50S is shockingly good looking car. I agree that these tend to be overlooked in the segment but nicely designed. Someone more knowledgeable than me may know how reliable these are/were.

  2. That’s an interesting angle and leaves me with a favourable impression of the Q50. Of course, we don’t get these here, and I would have figured that the design is quite Mazda-6-ish, rather than that other, Italian M. True luxury seems to distinguish itself by just not caring about cost, reliability, depreciation and other such mundane matters though.

    Even though I am smitten by nostalgia for car-like cars, I can’t help but feel that this looks old. A Genesis G70 doesn’t really seem all that different, but it is cheaper, presumably more modern and from a brand that doesn’t quite feel as orphaned. Why not rather go for that one, instead?

  3. I’m a sucker for a sport sedan and almost always prefer a given sedan to its coupe equivalent. these are an exception – I think the coupe looks so much better than the sedan. having a slightly dumpy sedan version of a decent-looking coupe is an Infiniti G tradition, but this coupe changes the game by looking actually very good. I didn’t appreciate it until I saw one in the parking lot at my old job, in a dark silver color. very striking, long and low.

  4. I find it hard to knock a solid RWD sedan these days, but I just never warmed up to the gooey pulled-taffy styling on this one. I thought the G35 (V35) was nice looking. The G37 (V36) restyle softened things up and it lost some of the geometric edginess, which I thought hurt it in looks. The V37 here is just too soft for my tastes. It’s got some Lexus weirdness going on up front, and the rest is all sheetmetal waves and ripples– a style that Mazda does a much better job at pulling off cleanly.

    Add to that the V6 power plant. I know it’s an odd hangup, but I really HATE V6s. Give me a V8 for torque, an inline 6 for refinement, or a blown four otherwise. And if exotic noise is your preference, V12s are the shit.

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