S Is For Surprises: 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD

Above: The 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400
Above: The 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

There was plenty to discover in the 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD. First, the one I drove wasn’t red, but for the S badges (S was for Steve; red for bravery). The surprises just abound from there.

The 400 in that name refers to the maximum pony output at 6,400rpm from a pulse-quickening 3-litre six-cylinder engine. Another pleasant surprise lies in the 350 lb-ft of torque available from 1,600-5,400rpm on deliciously fat 19” performance tires. The car weighs 4,054 pounds: heavy for most engines, but featherweight for thrust like this one’s. Besides, I had just finished a week in the Nissan Armada Platinum, which breaks the scales at 5,963 pounds soaking dry. Comparatively, the Q50 Red Sport is a trebuchet with steering.

While we’re on the topic, the Q50 fast-ratio electronic steering accelerates with you. Meaning? It feels firm and genuine at lower speeds yet eases while remaining laser-accurate at higher. The sporty steering wheel is marvelously grippy.

This is a driver’s car, useful in thick traffic to seize those brief moments when you glimpse an opportunity, but a veritable pet whippet you can take out to wider spaces and let off leash for some companionable time together. There are standard, sport, snow, eco or personal modes. Put it in sport now and then. You’ll understand how iron man feels, surrounded by a powerful exo-skeleton that responds to your thoughts. (They quickly become animalistic. Watch your speed.)

If you haven’t driven a Nissan or Infiniti before, you’ll love their 360-degree monitor for reversing and tight maneuvering. (Becoming common among auto manufacturers these days, this tech has been available from these two for years.) Strategically placed cameras provide a surrounding overview as though a helicopter landed on your roof. So the Q50 lets you feel like your spirit’s left your body even at 2kph.

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the AWD stands for all-wheel drive, a near ubiquitous feature Canadians seem to think makes them safe. Beware: what gets you going in slippery conditions doesn’t necessarily stop you in same.

Just imagine if the Q50 were to offer rear-wheel drive, which allows some oversteer for those thrill-seeking few who still love a touch of drift. Now wouldn’t that be a lovely surprise?

2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD MSRP: $54,600
Freight & PDR: $1,995.
As Driven: $60,680

Steven Bochenek

Steven Bochenek

Steven Bochenek has been reviewing vehicles for nearly a decade. He was invited to join the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada in 2011, was voted the runner-up Canadian Automobile Journalist of the Year in 2014 and won Volvo’s 2016 Award for Environment Journalism on his birthday.

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