The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport.
The 2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport. Mitchell Oke

Nip-and-tuck for Infiniti Q50 compact sedan

PERSEVERANCE is a commendable trait and one Infiniti needs as a defining principle.

The prestige arm of Nissan is still on a slow-burn five years after its launch in Australia. There's little wrong with its products but it is fighting to gain traction in a market locked down by its direct rival, Lexus, and a raft of well-established European rivals.

A nip-and-tuck for the Q50 compact sedan won't steer longstanding prestige buyers to the brand but it should draw those entering the segment who prioritise value over veneration.

The refreshed range starts at $54,900 and winds out to $79,900. That undercuts Lexus by about $4000 - not small change at this stratum.

Changes to the car extend from the predictable front and rear bumper revisions and new wheel designs to minor interior updates.

In the case of the range-topping Q50 Red Sport in which we had a brief foray, there's now red stitching on the leather trim and the seat foam has been changed to improve comfort.

The highlight remains the standard features list - which embarrasses its prestige counterparts. The Red Sport has a full active safety suite, 14-speaker audio, power front seats, front and rear sensors, 360-degree camera, digital speedo and noise cancellation.

Infiniti Q50S Red Sport
The 2018 model Infiniti Q50. Mitchell Oke


The big ticket item is the update to the steer-by-wire software that Infiniti says is a "precursor to future steering systems that form the building blocks to achieving fully autonomous driving”.

The old setup was criticised for lacking steering feel, if not precision. This is an improvement but the key word here is precursor - it is far from the final, polished product. There's still an unnatural change in weight to the steering wheel over mid-corner bumps, making it hard to build trust in what the front end is doing.

The twin-turbo six-cylinder engine is a genuine weapon even if it lacks the aural edge of its German six-pot rivals. When you're piping an artificial note in to the cabin, there's no excuse for not making it sound seriously good as opposed to digitally contrived.

Infiniti Q50S Red Sport
2018 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport Mitchell Oke

The seven-speed auto can be caught in the wrong cog under hard acceleration or braking. Thankfully, those brakes are first rate.

Adaptive dampers, as with the steering response, react to changes in the drive mode. Also as with the steering response, the dampers still aren't best in class.

The variation between comfort and sport settings isn't as pronounced as it could be and the rear end will twitch over road ripples. It does the job but doesn't encourage the driver to tap the car's performance potential.

Infiniti Q50S Red Sport
The new Infiniti Q50 range. Mitchell Oke


The Red Sport fits the bill as a stylish, sumptuously appointed prestige sedan but still needs work as an engaging driver's car.



PRICE $79,900 plus on-roads

WARRANTY 4 years/100,000km; $1292 for 3 years/45,000km

ENGINE 3.0-litre 6-cyl twin-turbo, 298kW/476Nm

SAFETY 5 stars, 6 airbags, active safety suite

THIRST 9.3L/100km


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