Infiniti Q50 Suggests Rush to SUVs Can Wait

John Gilbert

 

Infiniti Q50 Red Sport is definitely red, with special metallic paint. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Infiniti Q50 Red Sport is definitely red, with special metallic paint. Photo credit: John Gilbert

 Auto makers continue to warn us that the popularity of SUVs is leading to the demise of sedans, but the 2019 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport makes you want to raise your hand and plead for a change of mind.
Not that Infiniti, or its parent Nissan, are among those like Ford, General Motors and FCA (Fiat Chrysler Autos) who have made such threats, and while they have plenty of SUVs readily available, they also are making breakthrough advances in their cars and engines.

   Getting the chance to drive the new Q50 was times perfectly to work in this particularly harsh Minnesota winter, where we seem to alternate between record snowstorms and record cold spells.

   First, even if it’s 20-below, you feel a warm sense when you look out your window and see this striking 4-door sedan parked in you driveway in its deep metallic red paint job. So rich is this color that Infiniti named the actual car after it. The full title is “2019 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD.”

  The car is sculptured with meaningful grooves on both sides and on the hood, and each contour catches light reflections and shows off the car and its color all through the day.

  Among the most impressive technical things Nissan has done in the past year is to release its variable compression ratio 4-cylinder engine, a turbocharged unit that provides startling power from a 2.0-liter 4. But for 2019, Infiniti has modified its line, and now gives the turbo 4-cylinder only to its more basic models — even though that’s the way I prefer it, for fuel economy sake.

   The upscale models, such as the test Q50 I had, comes loaded with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with a whopping 400 horsepower and 350 foot-pounds of torque. With a 7-speed automatic transmission, this Q50 will go 0-60 in barely over 4 seconds, and you can do it in all sorts of weather with the slick all-wheel drive system.

Comfort abounds in the heated, fully adjustable leather bucket seats. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Comfort abounds in the heated, fully adjustable leather bucket seats. Photo credit: John Gilbert

   Everything on the Red Sport 400 is upgraded, it seems, with a better class of luxury leather on the seats, steering-wheel mounted shift paddles, a drive-mode selector should you prefer track-solid steering and ride, rain-sensing wipers, dynamic digital suspension, speed sensitive power steering, active trace control to keep your trajectory precise around curves, LED head, tail, running and accent lights, and unique 19-inch alloy wheels mounted with all-season run-flat tires.

In silhouette against frozen Lake Superior and ice fishermen, the Q50 has AWD but it's definitely a car, not an SUTV. Photo credit: John Gilbert
In silhouette against frozen Lake Superior and ice fishermen, the Q50 has AWD but it's definitely a car, not an SUTV. Photo credit: John Gilbert

   It also comes with the full complement of safety features, including blind-spot warning, backup collision intervention and predictive forward collision warning with forward emergency braking. Then there are some much-appreciated creature features, including 8-way power front buckets with a power seat cushion extension, and adaptive cruise and headlights, with automatic high beams, and one of our new favorite features, which is remote start.

Looking at the Q50 instruments, also note the aluminum paddles on either side to manually shift the 7-speed. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Looking at the Q50 instruments, also note the aluminum paddles on either side to manually shift the 7-speed. Photo credit: John Gilbert
The large navigation screen switches to mode selections for push-button alterations. Photo credit: John Gilbert
The large navigation screen switches to mode selections for push-button alterations. Photo credit: John Gilbert

   Yes, while you’re looking out from the kitchen window and admiring the special red paint that only cost you an extra $800, you can click the key fob and lock the doors and then start up that snarling twin-turbo V6. It’s only 3.0 liters in displacement, but those computer-controlled turbochargers and engine management system makes it sound and act like a sports car racer.

    Then you can zip up your parka and dash through the blowing snow with the doors unlocking as you reach the car, then hop inside and turn on the seat-heaters. Shift into gear and you’re off, and if there’s a plow-deposited pile of snow at the end of the driveway, or you encounter a few drifts on the roadway, you don’t even flinch because of the security of the Q50’s all-wheel drive.

   On the weather-ravaged streets, we tend to switch modes to comfort in city driving, and pick our spots to go to sportier suspension and steering modes on smooth surfaces. Whatever the setting, the ride was always safely firm and never harsh or jolting.

   Comfortable as the front buckets are, with full lateral support, the rear seats are roomy and comfortable for two adults as well. The trunk is spacious, and can be extended by folding down the rear seatbacks.

   As much of a trend as the move to SUVs is, so is the tendency to go after scads of power with little concern for economy. The Q50 might fall into that category, although the zero-lift aerodynamic concept with its carbon fiber deckled spoiler means you might get an EPA estimated 26 miles per gallon.

   Naturally, Infinitis cost more than the more basic Nissan sedans, and the Q50, when loaded up with all the luxury and sport options, has a sticker price of $60,435.
That’s a lot — almost as much as some of the fancy pickup trucks and SUVs I’ve driven lately — but if you want an SUV just to get all-wheel drive, consider that a low, curvaceous, luxurious and sporty sedan like the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport can give you all those assets, and then some. 

Even the rear end, with its carbon fiber decklid spoiler, comes together attractively. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Even the rear end, with its carbon fiber decklid spoiler, comes together attractively. Photo credit: John Gilbert