Infiniti Red Sport performance brand launched, turbo six to lead the way

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Infiniti’s new turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol ‘VR’ V6 engine, revealed in December, will be the engine that kicks off the company’s new Red Sport performance brand this year.

The engine, tuned for 224kW and 298kW forms, will initially be offered with the Q50 sedan and the brand-new Q60 coupe. It’s that higher-output variant that will power Red Sport models, adding a red ‘S’ badge to the boot lid and front guards of each.

This week, Infiniti launched a new 298kW Q50S Red Sport 400 sedan in the US. Although not a direct rival to the likes of a BMW M3 or Mercedes-AMG C63, the Q50 Red Sport 400 is nonetheless more powerful than the ‘new’ 270kW twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6-powered Mercedes-AMG C43. (Although the AMG out-twists the Q50, 520Nm to 475Nm.)

Speaking with American press at the Q50S Red Sport 400’s launch, Infiniti US product chief Keith St Clair confirmed that the red S badge will represent a little something more than the silver S seen on some models now.

“Whenever you see the red S… it means the car gets a different powertrain, and typically a different suspension and different brakes than the vehicle it supersedes,” St Clair told industry journal Automotive News.

For the Q50 Red Sport 400, the most obvious tweaks from the outside are unique exhaust tips, a staggered 19-inch wheel setup and Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres.

Infiniti says it has also dramatically enhanced the Q50’s Direct Adaptive Steer system to improve feedback from the road, launched with the new engine as a second-generation swing at the ‘steer by wire’ concept.

With a seven-speed automatic in play, Infiniti claims a 0-60mph (96km/h) time of 4.5 seconds for the Q50S Red Sport 400.

“This isn’t intended to be an AMG fighter. We’re not there yet. I would call this program mid-performance, our first step in that direction. To step up to a Red S will be primarily an increase in power and performance,” St Clair added.

Where the Red Sport badge will go from here is unclear, with the promising Eau Rouge project – a 418kW GT-R-powered concept – now understood to have been cancelled.

We could expect an even more powerful iteration of the VR engine, however, with the company’s Q80 Inspiration concept demonstrating that it is capable of at least 336kW.

Infiniti Australia has confirmed that the company’s new turbocharged six will debut in the local Q50 range in the fourth quarter of 2016. But, for now, the company is staying quiet on whether the Red Sport brand will be given any significant marketing push in Australia.

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