SAN ANTONIO -- Infiniti will introduce new performance branding this spring when its 400-hp V-6 engine reaches showrooms in the Q50 sedan.
Infiniti isn't ready to take on established lines such as BMW's M or Mercedes-Benz's AMG, but executives say the Red Sport 400 series will get the ball rolling.
After debuting with the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6-powered Q50, Red Sport eventually will extend to other models, says Keith St. Clair, Infiniti's U.S. director of product strategy and management. "This car will introduce the Red S badging," he said at a media event here.
The 400-hp Q50 will be branded with a red "S" on the tail and side panels. That will distinguish it from the silver "S" for the sport trim package on the 300-hp version.
"This is the new strategy of our sport lineup in the future," said St. Clair. "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."
The Red Sport 400 Q50 gets special exhaust tips, staggered 19-inch wheels and Dunlop summer performance run-flat tires.
In 2011, Infiniti began marketing a performance version of some models under the name Infiniti Performance Line. That ended early last year when Infiniti stopped production of the Q60 coupe, previously marketed as the G37 coupe.
"The IPL was our first effort," St. Clair said. "The Red S will be our new performance package.
"This isn't intended to be an AMG-fighter," he added. "We're not there yet. I would call this program midperformance, our first step in that direction. To step up to a Red S will be primarily an increase in power and performance."
The twin-turbo 400-hp engine uses water-cooled air charging and claims 350 pounds-feet of torque. That compares with 295 pounds-feet on the 300-hp V-6 that Infiniti expects to be the higher volume powertrain on the Q50 sedan and Q60 coupe, which will reach showrooms this summer.