Used 2016 INFINITI Q50 Red Sport 400 Review
The conventionally powered 2016 Infiniti Q50 ranks as one of the sportier luxury sedans in the class, but the Q50 Hybrid receives comparably poor ratings. We caution shoppers to choose wisely among them as well as options that may affect how the car drives. Learn more about the 2016 Infiniti Q50 and its changes to powertrains and suspension tuning this year.
Because the 2016 Infiniti Q50 doesn't have as much brand recognition or deep-pocketed marketing backing it as its German competitors, you might overlook the Q50 if you're in the market for a small luxury sport sedan. It would be a mistake to do so, though, as few rivals can match the Q50's high-quality interior, sensational handling and powerful engines at its price point. For 2016, the Q50 gets a multitude of changes that make it easier to recommend than ever before.
The most attention-grabbing change is the introduction of three new engines, all of which are turbocharged. The Q50 will finally be available with a four-cylinder engine, which will likely lower the price of entry to the brand and keep the Q50 competitive for maximum fuel economy. The standard turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 makes slightly less horsepower than the Q50's previous naturally aspirated 3.7-liter engine, but promises better fuel economy and perhaps quicker acceleration thanks to its enhanced torque output. Infiniti seems to be happy with the warm reception its Eau Rouge concept received, as the Q50 can now be ordered with a high-output V6. The Q50 Red Sport 400 isn't stuffed with the heart of the Nissan GT-R (as on the Eau Rouge), but the Q50's 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque is more than rivals make without being a full-fledged sports variant like a BMW M3.
The 2016 Q50's refinements aren't limited to engine choices. One major change is to Infiniti's highly touted Direct Adaptive Steering system, which we have found unnerving in the past. With DAS, the steering wheel isn't connected to the wheels at all, instead relying on a number of sensors to translate steering input to wheel direction. In prior testing, we found the system was easily confused in corners and produced unpredictable vehicular movements. Infiniti promises the revised system offers greater steering wheel feedback, along with a set of selectable steering modes, however.
Rounding out the list of dynamic upgrades are driver-adjustable suspension dampers, available in certain V6 models. In earlier Q50s, we found the combination of a sport suspension and run-flat tires to be unnecessarily harsh for this type of car. The new adjustable setup allows drivers to tailor the ride to their tastes, from a comfort-oriented normal setting to the corner-happy Sport+ mode.
The 2016 Infiniti Q50's myriad improvements help make it one of the more compelling entries in the compact luxury sedan class. However, there are a few very strong competitors also worth your consideration. The sporty 2016 BMW 3 Series is available with several engines that range from an economical diesel to a powerful turbocharged six-cylinder. For prestige, it's hard to beat the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which boasts an impeccably trimmed cabin. There's also the 2016 Cadillac ATS for maximum handling thrills or the 2016 Acura TLX if you want a more understated approach to luxury and performance. Overall, though, we think the revised Q50 is a worthy pick for the small luxury sedan class.
trim levels & features
The 2016 Infiniti Q50 is a five-passenger midsize luxury sport sedan that is offered in six trims: 2.0T, 2.0T Premium, 3.0T Premium, Sport, Red Sport 400 and Hybrid Premium. All-wheel drive (AWD) is also available for each trim.
Standard features for the Q50 2.0T include 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED foglights and taillights, dual chrome exhaust tips, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, eight-way power front seats, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, column-mounted shift paddles, rear air vents, a rearview camera, twin touchscreen displays, Infiniti's InTouch infotainment system, voice controls, Bluetooth connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, two USB ports, an auxiliary audio jack, satellite radio and HD radio.
The 2.0T Premium and 3.0T Premium are equipped identically, with the 3.0T powered by a V6 engine rather than the 2.0T's four-cylinder. They both come with the 2.0T's features as well as a sunroof, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound audio system. Leather upholstery is optional.
On top of 3.0T Premium equipment, the Q50 Sport adds 19-inch wheels, a unique front fascia, adjustable suspension dampers, bigger brakes, leather upholstery and front sport seats with power lumbar, power side adjustments and manual thigh adjustment.
The high-octane Red Sport 400 includes an even more powerful engine, along with brushed exhaust tips and more aggressive summer tires (for RWD models).
Available on all above trims is the Premium Plus package, which adds auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats, power lumbar for the driver seat, a power-adjustable heated steering wheel, driver memory settings, a navigation system and 60/40-split folding rear seats. The Driver Assistance package is also available and includes automatic wipers, a blind-spot monitor, front and rear collision warning intervention systems and front and rear parking sensors with cross-traffic alert.
In addition to the hybrid powertrain, the Hybrid Premium includes all the features from the Premium models with the Driver Assistance and Premium Plus packages (minus the auto-dimming outside mirrors), leather upholstery and maple wood trim.
All 3.0T and Hybrid models are available with the Technology package, with adaptive headlights, automatic high-beam headlight control, adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot prevention system, a lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist system, an interior air purifier and a reactive gas pedal that can help minimize wasteful driving.
performance & mpg
The 2016 Infiniti Q50 is available with one of three engines, all of which are paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional with all engines.
The base 2.0T engine is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Q50 3.0T gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that makes 300 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A modified version of this engine is used in the Q50 Red Sport 400, and here it churns out 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.
There's also the Q50 Hybrid. It gets its power from a 3.5-liter V6 that is paired with an electric motor fed by a lithium-ion battery pack. >Combined power output is 360 hp, which in Edmunds testing allowed it to reach 60 mph in only 5.3 seconds. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 30 mpg combined (28/34) for the rear-wheel-drive Hybrid and slightly less with all-wheel drive.
Standard safety features on all 2016 Infiniti Q50 models include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, a rearview camera and the Infiniti Connection telematics service with roadside assistance, automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle reporting and remote door unlocking.
We haven't yet tested the Q50 with either of its new engines, but in the past we've praised the outgoing 3.7-liter V6 as being a standout in the class. We hope the new turbocharged engines meet or surpass the high bar set by last year's motor, which offered smooth and decisive acceleration. We've driven the hybrid model enough to know that its drivetrain is prone to unsettling and unpredictable stumbles and lurches. Braking is also divergent, with the gas-only Q50 benefitting from consistent and confident results, while the hybrid suffers from a noticeable lack of smoothness and stability. In our test track panic stops, the hybrid's pedal would sometimes go all the way to the floor. The ride quality also suffered with the hybrid model, with an unusual and objectionable harshness. The Q50, on the other hand, is firm, but still compliant. In terms of handling and steering, the Q50 receives high marks for its quick responses, composed ride and predictable nature.
There's plenty to like inside the 2016 Infiniti Q50, but there are also a few items to be cautiously aware of at the same time. The interior features fine materials that compare favorably against other luxury cars in this class, and there's enough visual interest to keep it looking fresh. The standard seats can be overly firm, and taller passengers may desire more thigh support. The sport seats remedy these issues with more supportive bolstering and adjustments. Rear seats are roomy enough for taller adults in terms of head- and legroom.
Dominating the dashboard are two central touchscreens that control most systems. The two different displays (one inset with an anti-reflective coating and the other mounted flush and glossy) do look a little awkward together. Operation is also unintuitive, at least in the beginning, as users have to figure out which screen does what and both are prone to washing out in direct sunlight.
Interior pockets, bins and cupholders are adequately sized to stow your personal effects, but they're not as generous as those of a few rivals. Trunk volume for the standard Q50 measures 13.5 cubic feet, which is decent among midsize luxury sedans, but the Q50 Hybrid model's hybrid battery pack reduces that space to 9.4 cubic feet.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.