2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 first drive review Page 2


I encountered a few issues, though. First, I could feel the ratio change as I sped up, and it felt pretty artificial. Second, the ratio at low speeds was so quick that I over-steered for a low-speed corner. And third, in Sport+ on the highway the weight was too heavy and the steering was too darty. I didn't find any of these issues to be off-putting, but I can't say that they add to a feedback and feel you'd want in a sport sedan.

The base steering is a rack-based EPS system with a 15:1 ratio in the Red Sport. It feels noticeably lighter than the steer-by-wire system but a bit more natural.

The new Dynamic Digital Suspension also has its pluses and minuses. It uses dampers with electronically controlled valves that get stiffer in Sport or Sport+ modes. The ride is firm but livable in the Standard mode--as it should be in a sport sedan--and the Sport modes make it a bit jiggly while helping to reduce body roll through corners. I wouldn't recommend either of the Sport settings for highway cruising but they do help the car respond on twisty roads.

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Speaking of modes, the Q50's Drive Mode Selector offers a ridiculous total of more than 300 personalized settings that alter the engine, 7-speed automatic transmission, DAS, electric power steering, DDS, and electronic stability control. My advice is to try the various settings, personalize them down to one that you like, and just use it.

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400

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2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400

Enlarge Photo
2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400

Enlarge Photo
2016 Infiniti Q50

2016 Infiniti Q50

Enlarge Photo

It's not a track car

Infiniti says the Red Sport 400 is aimed at the BMW 340i. Pricing hasn't been announced, but it will start below $50,000 and run up to the mid $50,000s nicely equipped. While the BMW would be perfectly at home on a racetrack, the Red Sport isn't.

That's a bit odd because it comes with big tires, 245/40R19s up front and 265/32R19s out back. The problem is the tires themselves. They are Dunlap SP Sport Maxx 050 summer run-flat tires that don't provide a lot of grip. With 400 horsepower on tap, I found it is easy to break the rear tires loose in situations like punching it for passing or adding a bit of throttle in a turn. A grippier tire would go a long way toward making this car feel sportier and get around a track quicker. 

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The brakes also haven't been upgraded. They are the big enough, with 14-inch diameter rotors front and 13.8-inch rotors rear, but we've have seen in the past that Infiniti brakes are often not ready for the rigors of track duty.

So, soul or no?

The question remains: Does the Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 have a soul? Well, I do see a glimmer of a soul. While the tire and brake issues mean this car isn't as fun to drive as it could be, the numerous electronics also sap some of its feel. However, Infiniti is at the forefront of steer-by-wire and other handling and autonomous technologies, and therefore its engineers should be among the first to program the feel that sport sedan buyers want in their cars.

For now, though, the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 3.0t 400 is no R&B singer when it comes to soul, but it is a beautiful, powerful, and fine handling car with at least some rhythm.


 
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