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Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 2018 review


Good points

  • Very quick twin-turbo V6
  • Handsome styling
  • Excellent interior quality

Needs work

  • Lower-end V6 option makes more sense
  • Limited practicality
  • Drive modes too customisable

It’s tough launching a new car brand in Australia. As one of the world’s most competitive automotive markets, Australians have developed desires for a high standard of equipment, a particular taste for SUVs and sportier models, and premium badges. New brands that don’t meet the brief are either chewed and spat out – like Opel – or they take years to establish, like Skoda – or Infiniti.

Launched here five years ago as Nissan’s premium badge, building sales has been a substantial effort – and this year’s tally of 675 cars is only an improvement of 14 cars on this point last year. Infiniti are very popular in the United States, where they hold 7 per cent of the market – compare that to just 0.1 per cent here. However, Infiniti’s bosses are realistic about the time it takes to build a brand in Australia – and in fact, they’re excited for the products the future holds. The first of these is this – the updated 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport.

The Q50 – Infiniti’s best-seller worldwide – is a small luxury sedan that aims to compete with the BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS, Audi A4, and the Australian favourite of the class, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. To put things in perspective, in October alone Australians took home 609 C-Classes, which isn’t far off Infiniti’s range-wide tally over ten months. The numbers show this is a David and Goliath fight, so the Q50 – a car that is, in Japan, regarded as the spiritual successor to the Nissan Skyline – needs to be good. On paper, the Q50, like other Infinitis, looks to be a recipe Australians would take to – a practical, sporty all-rounder that represents good value. But how does the mix taste in the real world?

Well – it tastes better now, as the Q50 has received a pretty comprehensive mid-life update for 2018. While most car refreshes barely go beyond styling and trim elements, this time Infiniti focussed on the Q50’s driving dynamics – specifically setting out to fix issues journalists and buyers identified with the way the car drives. The drive-by-wire steering, criticised for being always too light or too heavy, has been comprehensively updated to its second generation. The suspension has been overhauled with the promise of a smoother ride. And while styling wasn’t the focus of the changes, there are light changes outside and in, as well. All in all, the Q50 should be a better car – but you’ll pay more for it, with price increases of up to $1,000.

Three specification levels carry over from before the 2018 update, with prices ranging from $54,900 to $79,900, though the top-shelf Red Sport tested here hasn’t seen its price changed. The entry-level GT trim is equipped with a 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol, while the mid-specification Sport Premium can be had with that four-pot, as a 224kW/400Nm twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6, or as a 268kW/546Nm 3.5-litre V6 hybrid, while a previously-optional Mercedes-sourced 2.2-litre diesel has been canned from the lineup. The Red Sport model tested arrives with plenty of standard equipment: behind the uprated 298kW/475Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo six sit 19-inch wheels, adaptive dampers, quilted leather seats, all-LED lighting, a Bose sound system, and a host of safety tech.

Overall rating
Overall rating
Overall rating

Key specs (as tested)

Twin turbochargers
298kW at 6,400rpm
475Nm at 1,600-5,200rpm
Torque converter
Power to weight ratio
Fuel type
Fuel capacity
80 litres
Average Range
860 kilometres
Rear wheel drive
Engine configuration
Unoccupied weight
Cargo space seats up
500 litres
Cargo seats down
Not listed

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