Review update: 2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport is a missile in search of a target

Among sporty sedans, the 2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport doesn’t make many starting lineups for drivers. That’s mostly a shame. Compared to others, the Q50 Red Sport holds its own in the tale of the tape.

Infiniti’s sedan taps a twin-turbo V-6 with 400 horsepower, a quick-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission, and rear- or all-wheel drive to drive the car. That keeps pace with other V-6-powered sporty sedans from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW, but races aren’t run on paper.

I spent a week with the 2020 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport to see where it falls on my list of favorite sport sedans that includes the BMW M340i, Mercedes-Benz AMG C43, and Audi S4.

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

Hit: Brutal power

Compared to the bunch, the Q50 Red Sport is ahead of the pack for power: 400 hp for Infiniti, 382 hp for the M340i, 385 hp for the C43, and 349 hp for the S4. It shows.

The Q50’s power delivery is quick and savage. In multiple on-ramp sprints, the Q50 didn’t blink on its way up to triple digits. Tip the rocker switch from normal into one of the available sport modes and the VR-Series V-6 provides sound and fury. (Other modes include eco and snow.)

The sport modes also adjust the throttle’s sensitivity from nervous to frantic and steering heft from smooth to chunky.

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

Miss: With great power…

It’s impossible to be responsible behind the wheel of the Q50 Red Sport.

The turbos spin out gobs of power across the rev band and even in eco and normal settings, the Q50 Red Sport can rocket away from a stoplight up to 60 mph in less than five seconds. In a week of driving, it was too much. Not only was it too nervous for stop-and-go traffic, but also it never felt comfortable in its own skin. Unlike the C43, which can be sedate and easy to drive, the Q50 Red Sport always feels like a caged tiger.

 

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

Hit: Steers clear

Infiniti’s use of a steer-by-wire system has drawn the ire of yours truly, but my tester didn’t have that system. The ratio of the electronic power steering system on my all-wheel-drive tester was a relatively relaxed 16.7:1, which is slower than both the C43 and M340i, but certainly not lazy. (Rear-drive Q50 Red Sports offer a 15.0:1 steering ratio, which is quicker.)

Without the steer-by-wire system, the Q50’s steering wheel felt more engaged and more consequential to the car’s movements.

 

2020 Infiniti Q50 Sedan

2020 Infiniti Q50 Sedan

Miss: Package, return to sender

Unfortunately, the only way to get active safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors is to opt-in to a package that includes that steer-by-wire system. I wouldn’t advise anyone against the safety suite (especially in a high-power sedan), but I would advise caution because the steer-by-wire system dents fun. 

2020 Infiniti Q50

2020 Infiniti Q50

Miss: Double trouble

Twin touchscreens may be popular with luxury automakers such as Audi, Land Rover, and some older Acuras, but Infiniti’s touchscreen is frustrating, redundant, and mostly unnecessary. Even newly standard Apple CarPlay compatibility doesn’t help. The lower touchscreen changes vehicle functions such as damper stiffness, throttle response, and steering effort, except when they’re controlled by the rocker switch, which changes some behaviors. The upper touchscreen is 8.0 inches compared to the lower touchscreen’s 7.0 inches, but it has a lower resolution and a matte versus the glossy look of the lower screen. It’s a confusing system that feels disconnected from the car’s multiple systems and is mostly annoying.

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

Miss: Package, return to sender—part two

On top of my tester’s standard $ 57,275 price, including destination, Infiniti added a carbon-fiber package ($ 1,520), welcome lighting ($ 465), and rear USB chargers ($ 145) that could all easily be deleted. The carbon-fiber package looks good, especially on the side mirrors, but is eye-watering money for no weight savings. Charging for rear USB ports in a luxury vehicle is also needless.

 

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport

Hit: Color me impressed

I would pay for the Dynamic Sunstone Red paint on my tester, listed as $ 800 on the Monroney. It’s brilliant and deep, and hopelessly attention-grabbing. (All the more reason to stay at or near the speed limit.) Aside from the premium shades of red available from Acura and Mazda, Infiniti’s premium paint is far better than it used to be.

But at $ 60,475 as tested, the 2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport comes within range of the C43 ($ 56,945, including destination), M340i ($ 56,995, including destination) and S4 ($ 50,895, including destinations) before options. All three can be tuned up to $ 70,000 or so, but all three are better at performance that feels usable. The Q50 is an also-ran for now, but with an all-star engine looking for the right mate.

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2020 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport AWD

Base price: $ 57,275, including destination

Price as tested: $ 60,475

Drivetrain: Twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, 7-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 19/26/22 mpg

The hits: Gobs of power, good base steering, great optional color

The misses: Confusing infotainment, unrefined power, questionable options

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