Some things just improve with age. Like Rod Stewart. And Heidi Klum. Definitely Heidi Klum.
It’s hard to believe then, that Infiniti’s curvy, muscley-as-Stallone, Q50 sports sedan, dates back to 2014. Seven years. Unchanged. Without a facelift or jab of Botox.
Typically, a car like the Q50 would have had a mid-life refresh after three or four years, and a full makeover after seven. To go that long without change is rare. Or just bad planning by Infiniti, or its parent Nissan.
Yet gazing at our Q50 Red Sport 400 tester, with its molten lava paintwork and racy, turbine-like 19-inch alloys, it still looks fresh, modern, and sexy.
No, it’s not as fresh and focused as many of its key rivals in the $50,000-and-up sports sedan market. Competitors like the latest BMW M340i, Mercedes-AMG’s C43, Audi’s S4 and the top-value Genesis’ G70.
Frankly, the Infiniti is at the pricey end of this spectrum. Especially for something that’s frankly getting a little long in the tooth. Our Q50 Red Sport 400 AWD stickered for $55,750, or $62,355 with a few extras.
The benchmark BMW M340 xDrive has a base price a hundred bucks less at $57,696. The lovely Merc C43, a shade less at $57,550. A Genesis G70 3.3T a bargain at $46,200.
But you could forgive the Infiniti pretty much anything, simply because of its truly awesome engine lurking beneath that bulging hood.
It’s a twin-turbocharged V6 packing a bench-pressing 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. Mated to a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic, it’ll happily catapult you from stoplight to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds. Trust me, that’s zippy.
Red Sport is Infiniti’s sporty sub-brand, though for now, is reserved only for the Q50 sedan and its achingly-gorgeous Q60 coupe sibling.
Red Sport exterior do-dads include a glossy-black-finished grille and lower-bumper bits, black door mirrors, performance brakes with red-painted calipers, special oversized exhaust tips and those lovely, silvery-black 19-inch alloys.
Inside, it’s all quilted semi-aniline leather, racy red stitching, polished aluminum pedals, and paddle shifters for D-I-Y shifting.
But the dual-screen infotainment system feels like yesterday’s tech – I was half-expecting to see a CD-player slot – while the climate control buttons at each side of the screens are irritatingly teeny.
And these days, for a sports sedan not to have a head-up display on to the windshield, is a serious omission. Especially as the speedo markings are hard to view in a hurry. “Sorry Officer, I couldn’t see how fast I was going”.
Also irritating is the lack of storage space in the center console. Sounds like a small point, but when you only have two small cupholders to hold your phone, and keys, and sunglasses, it’s a pain.
For a mid-size four-door sedan, rear seat space is also tight, especially in the kneeroom department. No top awards either for trunk space, but at least the rear seatbacks fold to help carry long items.
Of course if you want space, buy a minivan. The Q50 is all about the thrill of the drive, and here it’s still a thrill ride.
Our tester came with the $2,000 optional all-wheel drive to help sharpen the car’s handling and traction. It acts as a rear-wheel driver until the system detects things getting slippery, then directs up to 50 per cent of the power to the front wheels.
With or without it, the Q is a fun drive, with rocketship-like acceleration, plenty of grip from the 19-inch Dunlop rubberware, terrific brakes and a nice balance between agility, athleticism and comfort.
The steering? Even in ‘Sport’ mode, to me it just didn’t feel as precise, or accurate, or communicative as I would have liked.
No, on paper the Q50 Red Sport 400 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when compared to the newer competition. But those still head-turning lines and joyous engine are enough to steal your heart.
Do you think it’s sexy? Just ask Rod.