The slow local sales are not good news for the Nissan-owned luxury car brand, but it is good news for those who want something a bit exclusive.
And after a week of getting about in the 2017 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport, I reckon they should.
There’s a choice of engines across the Q50 range, including:
- 155kW/350Nm 2.0 litre turbo-petrol
- 125kW/400Nm 2.2 litre turbo-diesel
- 224kW/400Nm 3.0 litre twin-turbo petrol
- 219kW/350Nm 3.5 litre V6 petrol/hybrid (all-wheel drive)
And then, at the top of the pile, is the Q50 Red Sport.
Fitted with a performance-tweaked version of the 3.0 litre twin-turbo engine, the Infiniti sends a hefty 298kW/475Nm to the rear wheels.
My week involved a fair bit of city driving and a trip out of town in the sportiest Q50.
At first, like the external styling, I found the Q50 interior to be a bit odd and something that you might have to warm too – rather than like from day one.
The seating is extremely comfortable, even on a long trip.
The double cockpit dashboard surrounds each occupant, with the centre console having an aeronautical feel.
Unusually, there are two LCD screens for menus, settings, and sat-nav. They’re set one above the other, and one wonders why Infiniti didn’t just install one large screen, Tesla-style.
Data entry via screen touch, or console mounted dial, allows a certain amount of haptic feedback meaning a driver can manage simple changes on the go.
The switch gear is well set out and everything has a quality feel. What you see, touch, and feel, is premium and high-end.
The menu system is easy to understand.
On the road, well, the formula is a relatively simple one. There is an engine in the front, driving the wheels in the back and a seven-speed auto with adaptive shift control in the centre.
The 298kW engine is nothing short of vicious. It is a rabid wolf in sheep’s clothing. Keep in mind, it is only 3kW less powerful than Holden’s hulking 6.2L V8. Let that sink in for a minute.
With 475Nm, the V6 feels like a rocket strapped on a roller skate. The power delivery is smooth from down low and if you punch it hard enough, would have the tail out were it not for the traction control.
The sound is reminiscent of sporty Jaguars of the 60’s.
The claimed 9.3L/100km heads north the minute you sink the boot in, but that’s to be expected.
The whole chassis bristles to attention in Sport mode, and Sport+ sharpens the steering, throttle and suspension to the point of being usable only on a track.
Bumps, even on a highway, are felt through to your core.
The body sits very low. Note to self: take care in shopping centres. Those random bits of concrete curbing cause havoc with the front splitter.
Do not, under any circumstances, park nose in at an angled curb side spot either.
The steering and brakes are excellent with feel that lets you know exactly what you’re doing. The steering feel changes depending on driving mode selected.
If you wish, you can also waft round town in comfort and splendour. The ride in normal mode is simply delicious.
Summing it up; my view of Infiniti was transformed, as if by magic, by the first kilometre in the Q50. The looks, the cabin, the electronics, all fabulous.
The icing on the cake is the stellar performance. It begs to be taken by the scruff of the neck at the nearest private road.
For under a hundred grand, you can feel like royalty, because it really is that good. You simply can’t help but love it.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport
- Engine: 3.0L V6 twin-turbo producing 298kW/475Nm
- Transmission: Seven-speed auto
- Safety: Five stars
- Warranty: 4yrs/100,000km
- Origin: Japan
- Price: from $79,900