A Touch of Sport: The 2021 Infiniti Q50

The Infiniti Q50 is one of two performance cars from Nissan’s luxury brand.

Not all premium and luxury manufacturers have given up on cars. For a select group of devotees, that is welcome news. For its part, Infiniti offers a pair of compact luxury car models. These are the Q50 sedan and the Q60 coupe, vehicles that share a common platform.

We reviewed the Q60 coupe in March and found it offered mostly everything we would want in a sport luxury coupe. However, like the sedan, neither one offers a manual transmission and that is a shame. But we are hardly surprised either – apart from sports cars, the manual gearbox is a rare commodity.

2021 Infiniti Q50 Review

Infiniti offers the 2021 Q50 in Pure ($36,700), Luxe ($41,800), Sensory ($47,700), Signature ($48,200), and Red Sport 400 trims ($55,850). Add $1,025 for the destination charge. Also, upgrading from standard rear-wheel drive to all-wheel drive will cost an additional $2,000.

The Q50 traces its roots to the G models from the 1990s. Moreover, it is related to the Nissan Skyline, a performance model of lore. This model seats five. For 2021, Infiniti made the previously available Wi-Fi hotspot standard equipment. Lastly, the Sensory trim arrives as the Sport trim exits.

Highlights of the 2021 Infiniti Q50

2021 Infiniti Q50 rear quarter

A Price We Like

A luxury sedan priced under $40,000 is not a common occurrence. That Infiniti keeps the base price below that threshold with available all-wheel drive and the destination charge included is remarkable.

On the flip side, the price point pushes $60,000 with a fully optioned Red Sport 400 edition. But that is well within the range of where top-level trims usually reside.

Deluxe Design

2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400
2021 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400.

The Q50’s sporty look includes a beautiful grille, sleek headlamps, and a muscular hood. Sporty and flowing lines dominate the profile, and the distinctive C-pillar ornamentation signals that this model is an Infiniti. The small hump at the back reveals a trunk with 13.5 cubic feet of storage capacity. That is about average for this class.

The Q50 comes with LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, and LED front fog lights. Power-adjustable and heated side mirrors, front door handle courtesy lights, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels round out the standard offerings.

Make your move up through the trim range and Infiniti brings in chrome front fascia finishers, 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, and a power tilt-and-slide moonroof. Some models include 19-inch wheels, diffuser trim, and red-painted brake calipers.

Stylish Interior

2021 Infiniti Q50 interior

What styling does for the exterior, it does likewise for the interior. The cabin is upscale with ample leather, soft-touch materials, chrome trim pieces, and available black open-pore wood pieces to enhance the presentation. Pretty designs and mostly subtle color choices dress the interior.

The front bucket seats are wide and plush. They’re not overly bolstered on most trims. On all but the base model, a 60/40 split fold-down bench seat with a narrow pass-through comes standard. We rate the back seat ideal for two and bearable for three in a pinch.

Infiniti equips the standard model with keyless entry and push-button start, imitation leather seats, 8-way power-adjustable front seats, and dual-zone climate control. Other available features include a moonroof, leather seats, heated front seats, and a heated steering wheel. Further up the trim range, this model gains a power tilt-and-slide steering column, paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, wood trim, and ambient lighting.

Standard and Available Safety Features

The Q50 comes with the requisite rearview camera, forward automatic emergency braking, and forward-collision warning. The safety roster expands beyond the base model to include multiple features. Indeed, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and reverse automatic braking are among them.

Also, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive headlights. Lastly, a surround-view parking camera system and rear parking sensors are also on the docket.

In crash testing, the Q50 received top scores in most categories from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The available adaptive headlights on the Red Sport 400 move that score up a notch. Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration assigned the 2021 Q50 with its highest rating, 5 stars.

Standard and Available Infotainment

Instead of one large infotainment display, Infiniti divides it all between upper 8-inch and lower 7-inch displays. The upper display is for all things Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration as well as navigation. The lower screen handles the remaining media tasks along with in-cabin climate controls.

However, the system seems slow and outdated, especially in these days of advanced infotainment systems. Otherwise, the features list is strong with Bluetooth, HD Radio, satellite radio, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a pair of USB ports. A 6-speaker audio system gives way to a 16-speaker Bose system and navigation on some trims.

Your Choice of Twin-Turbo Engines

2021 Infiniti Q50 interior

Infiniti does not mess around with performance. All Q50 models come with a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. It is the standard arrangement in all but the top trim, making 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

Choose the Red Sport 400 model and this ups the power quotient to 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. A 7-speed automatic transmission shuttles power to the wheels. With these choices, Infiniti includes manual shift mode with downshift rev-matching and available paddle shifters.

On the Road With the Infiniti Q50

There is not a slow Q50 in the house. And that’s a great thing. Right out of the gate, Infiniti delivers 300 horsepower and that’s a winning formula for this small sedan. Specifically, there are 300 horses on tap and that’s a strong amount in proportion to this vehicle’s size.

Notably, it is also the most powerful base engine in its class – most competitors offer a turbocharged four-cylinder engine to kick things off.

Our test Signature model had the standard engine. But a retuned version of this same engine comes with the Red Sport 400. This upgraded one makes 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. We have driven Q50s with both engine choices and either one should satisfy. That said, the Red Sport 400 lives up to its name.

Both models offer light steering. For the Red Sport 400, the optional drive-by-wire adaptive steering system brings in an interesting element. However, we are not ready to say it is worth the cost. Here, Infiniti eliminates the steering rack for computer-controlled driving inputs. It just does not offer the driving acumen differentiation we expect.

Where the Red Sport 400 shines is with its big brakes and electronic dynamic suspension system. The first attribute is ideal for spirited driving, including on the track. The second elevates the track experience for faster inputs.

With the Signature edition guiding us, we soon reacquainted ourselves with some of our favorite back roads. Immediately, the Infiniti showed us its performance chops, hugging every twist with ease and moving down the road with gusto.

Helping matters was the available all-wheel drive, which activated the front wheels during our more spirited romps. It is also advantageous while cornering, making it that much easier to move in and out of them with ease. We think it is an upgrade worth taking.

Our Recommendation

Making the move to the Red Sport 400 will cost you more than $55,000, a $7,650 price premium over the Signature. This will net you the more powerful engine, suspension and braking system upgrades, and design embellishments.

It might be a bit pricey for most, leaving the Signature trim with the best mix of amenities for the price.

See AlsoIntroducing the Neoteric Infiniti QX55!

Photos copyright Infiniti USA. All rights reserved.

Matthew Keegan

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