First drive: 2017 Infiniti Q50 S Red Sport 400 in the UAE

First drive: 2017 Infiniti Q50 S Red Sport 400 in the UAE

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Infiniti raised a few eyebrows when they suddenly launched a 400 hp version of the Infiniti Q50. Featuring an all-new turbocharged motor, the Japanese premium carmaker finally had something to brag about when pitched against the Germans, all of whom have had boosted engines for a decade already. We were invited to try out the Infiniti Q50 S Red Sport 400, as it’s called, at the Dubai Autodrome for the GCC launch.

The Q50 with the ‘S’ bumpers and larger wheels looks great as always. The problem here is that the Red Sport looks exactly like the outgoing Q50 S with the 326 hp 3.7-litre V6, right down to the alloys. The only difference is literally just the replacement of the “3.7” fender badges to “3.0T” ones. To make matters even less visually-enticing for the 400 hp Red Sport, the Q50 S now also comes with a 300 hp tune of the 3.0-litre turbo engine. The only visual difference between the 300 hp and 400 hp models is that the latter gets a red ‘S’ badge on the boot-lid instead of a silver one.

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Inside, it’s exactly the same as the old model as well, so you can read about the cabin tech and practicality in our full road test of the outgoing Infiniti Q50 S.

We initially drove the Red Sport around a tight autocross course where it wasn’t particularly impressive, mostly because the ESP kept kicking in rather jarringly on every turn, even in Sport Plus mode. While we didn’t get the opportunity here, we’ve driven the previous model with the ESP fully off on a similar course last year, and it was much more fun and easily controllable drifting around corners.

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We then moved on to the ‘Club’ circuit of the Dubai Autodrome, where we got to push the Red Sport harder at full track speeds.

The problem with driving on track is that the sense of speed is far less than on the street. It felt like the car had a hundred horses less in terms of acceleration, although a quick look at the speedo showed we were probably hitting 100 kph in around 5 seconds from standstill in one of the track activities. It was even reaching around 200 kph on the main straight of the track.

Maybe the luxury-car sound-proofing and smooth-shifting 7-speed automatic were dumbing down the track experience, but one thing we can say with surety is that the chassis tuning is excellent.

We were throwing the car into corners while braking, and the car took the mild oversteer in stride and kept on turning. In reducing-radius corners, the encroaching tyre squeal at the limit made it sound like understeer was creeping in, but as we slowly laid on the power on the second half of the curve, the car just kept on turning harder and harder.

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The brakes were also great at hauling the car down cleanly from 200 kph. The steering is responsive, but there’s no real steering feel to speak of on the smooth track. The steer-by-wire system — where the steering wheel controls the front wheels via electrical signals rather than a physical connection — would be the culprit as it intentionally filters out bumps on the road.

The previous Infiniti Q50 S ended up on our recommended list after we brought one in for a proper road test, as the car never showed its true potential on the track. The Red Sport is a similar affair, as we didn’t really feel the extra horsepower on our brief stint at the Autodrome. But we suspect it is probably a better car than its outgoing twin.

For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Infiniti buyer guide.

Photos by Mashfique H. Chowdhury and Infiniti.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. As I know the red sport comes with 265 wide tires in the back, not like the old model which had 245, and the stupid sales man in the showroom, I visited them in Ramadan , like 3 months ago and asked if it is coming by the end of the year, he said no, so I went and bought the lexus IS 350, I should have waited, but anyway, it is a nice car.

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury Author

      You’ll notice that the staggered wheel setup in U.S. models is actually a different wheel design, which our test cars weren’t fitted with.

    • the reason sales guy told you know he will not have gotten commission that month for the sale…and they know people never wait for cars unless they are truly informed, e.g I am waiting for 3.5 Altima which showed up online in review by local emarati guy but show room kept denying it and made me laugh and in 3-4 weeks when I revisited a different showroom through online query it was revieled its coming in December end or jan and booking will start end of November, you need to be smarter than the person selling you somehiting but congrats on the lexus!!

    • @Moez

      You will be right if I was intersted in 3.7 so the salesman would lie and tell me it is not coming so he can sell me one, but I made it clear to him, I told him clearly that Im not interested in 3.7, and told him clearly that if it is not coming I will go and buy a lexus, and he insisted that the twin turbo is not coming, he didnt even try to convince me with the 3.7 coz I made it clear to him Im going next day to by the lexus

    • @ Mash, according to reviews for the car done in the US, 265 rear tires and they are complaining about traction and grip as the car has too much power and grip, any narrower tires and they car will go skiing hehehehe

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury Author

      They probably turned ESP off, which we were not allowed to do in these events.

  2. DAMN!
    I too was invited (Facebook competition) by Infiniti Dubai yesterday. Unfortunately, I could not join… 🙁
    But reading your review, boy-o-boy, I’m super excited for the new Q60 Coupe now.

    So far, news for the Q60 Coupe is a January 2017 launch.
    Yeah, the coupe and sedan look the same on the inside (apart from a few minor differences such as the seat styling, trim options, steering design and the gorgeous red seats), I LOVE the exterior styling.
    Q50 is not good…but the Q60 is better! 😀

  3. Samer, that salesman is not stupid, rather he is being clever.
    If he says the model you want is definitely coming by year end, then he does not make an immediate sale. He hoped probably you would buy something he has right now so that he can get his commission.
    They play it all the time.
    Only exception to this was a gentleman in Honda Garhoud who frankly told me when the next generation model of the car I wanted to buy was due, risking an immediate sale.
    Once I trusted him, I went back and bought the current Honda CRV and then later again the new Honda Accord v6.
    So his forthrightness was rewarded twice over, else I would have taken my money elsewhere.

    • smart guy you are! I didn’t read your comment and replied above with same advise! 🙂

    • Palioman …. no that is not applicable in my case, in fact I visited Infiniti showroom after I visited lexus, and I was holding the lexus IS brochure in my hand and I made it clear to him, either the 3.0 twin turbo or I get the lexus, but he said it is not coming, to be honest that was like 3 months ago, so maybe he had no clue it was coming indeed

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