The Infiniti Q50 began production in 2013 and went on sale for model year 2014. Q50 models are the successor to the Infiniti Q40/G37. As with the 370Z and G37, the Q50 is built on Nissan’s FM platform and shares the same VQ37VHR engine option. It’s an excellent engine with plenty of potential for engine mods and upgrades. However, the Q50 also offers other great engine options – like the VR30DDTT – that deliver even better aftermarket performance.
There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to the Infiniti Q50. The best Q50 mods depend on the specific model and engine in question. As such, this article will dive into all the background info for these engines. Afterwards, we will discuss the best Infiniti Q50 engine mods along with cost, power gains, and more.
Infiniti Q50 Engines
Four primary engine options for the Infiniti Q50 are:
- Nissan VQ37VHR (2014-2015)
- Mercedes M274 DE 20 AL (2016-2019)
- Nissan VQ35HR (2014-2018)
- Nissan VR30DDTT (2016-present)
In the early days of the Q50 there were a number of gasoline engines available. However, the VR30DDTT is bold for good reason. It’s the longest running engine in the Infiniti Q50, and is the main focus of this article.
The VR30DDTT is a twin turbo 3.0L V6 engine. Not only is the VR30 the most popular engine in the Q50, but it’s also the easiest to mod for big power gains. When it comes to basic bolt-on mods turbo engines are capable of much more impressive gains that most naturally aspirated (NA) engines.
Nissan VQ35 and VQ37 engines in the Q50 are capable, too. However, some of the best mods depend greatly on whether the Q50 is turbo or NA. That said, let’s lay out the best upgrades for the VQ35HR and VQ37VHR. Afterwards, we’ll dive into the Infiniti Q50 VR30DDTT mods.
Infiniti VQ35 & VQ37 Mods
Some of the best Q50 mods for the NA VQ engines include:
- Exhaust (Headers)
A tune and intake will also make an appearance on the list of 5 best mods for the VR30 Q50 engine. These are typically the easiest starting upgrades for just about any engine. Exhaust is also a critical upgrade, but the specific part is different on turbo engines.
Headers offer some of the best gains for NA engines like the VQ35HR and VQ37VHR. On turbo engines, downpipe upgrades are essentially to turbo engines as headers are on NA engines. Anyway, header upgrades on the VQ engines can offer about 10-20 horsepower.
Camshafts are another great mod for the Infiniti Q50. Picking the right set of cams is very important, though. Certain cams may offer a lot more power up-top but sacrifice lower-end power and torque. You can get the best of both worlds with the right cam upgrades, and gains come in the ballpark of 10-20+ horsepower.
*In the future, we’ll write an in-depth guide for Nissan VQ35HR and VQ37VHR engine mods and link to it here.
5 Best Infiniti Q50 VR30DDTT Engine Mods
Now, with some of the basics out of the way it’s time to move onto the twin turbo V6 engine. This 3.0T has been one of the primary engines in the Infiniti Q50 since 2016. With 300-400hp and 295-350 lb-ft of torque from the factory it already delivers great performance.
However, the VR30DDTT engine is capable of 450-500+whp on stock turbos. With so much potential it’s clear the Infiniti Q50 is a popular car to modify. Basic bolt-on Q50 mods are all it takes to unleash an extra 100-150+whp. So, what are those mods? What are the best upgrades to take the Q50 to the next level?
In the next sections, we lay out the 5 best Infiniti Q50 mods along with cost, power gains, and other considerations. As a side note – the Q50 Red Sport and Silver Sport are capable of the same power and performance. However, power gains look more impressive on the Silver Sport Q50 since it has a lower starting point.
1) Infiniti VR30DDTT Tune
If you’re looking for the single most effective engine upgrade for the Q50 then a tune is the clear choice. A tune is the best starting point when modding the Infiniti Q50 VR30DDTT. With a tune only the VR30 engine can pick up about 40-100whp. The power gains will appear higher on the Silver Sport 300hp models. Power gains on the RS400 will seem less impressive.
Regardless of the specific gains, expect to end up in the ballpark of 350-400whp and 375-450wtq with just a tune. That’s a lot of power for a simple tune that will only set you back about $400-600. Adding in a small blend of 30% E85 will show even better gains.
Not only do tunes offer great performance gains, but they’re also the foundation to building power with other upgrades. Additional Q50 mods simply don’t reach their full potential without proper tuning.
Best Q50 VR30 Tunes
Plenty of tuning options exist for the Infiniti Q50 and VR30DDTT engine. However, there are two tunes that are the most common for the VR30 and generally the best available tunes. Those are the Burger Motorsports JB4 and EcuTek Bluetooth OBD2 Module.
The JB4 is a piggyback tune that simply plugs into two sensors in the engine bay. It works with the factory ECU to remap boost, fueling, timing, etc. It’s different from traditional flash tuning but is a very simple and easy approach to tuning the Infiniti Q50. We have a lot of experience running JB4 tunes on our BMW’s and have always loved their products.
EcuTek allows you to load flash tunes directly to the ECU. In essence, these flash tunes completely remap the computer. Once you have the EcuTek OBD connector and phone app you can work with many different tuners for a base or custom flash tune. AMS Performance is a popular pick for good reason.
Ultimately, the JB4 is the cheaper route at $529 and it offers tons of excellent features. However, flash tuning via EcuTek is the better route if you want to run E50+ fueling or upgraded turbos (those looking for 450+whp).
Buy Here: Infiniti Q50 VR30DDTT JB4 Tuner
Price: $529.00 (+ optional $40 wired data cable or $149 wireless kit)
Power Gains: 40-100+ horsepower
2) Q50 Intake Upgrades
Next on the list is one of the easiest and cheapest Infiniti Q50 mods. The VR30DDTT 3.0 twin turbo engine uses dual intakes. They offer plenty of airflow at stock boost. Intake upgrades may only offer 0-5 horsepower on stock VR30 engines.
When adding a tune, though, the factory intakes quickly become inefficient. Replacing the restrictive stock airboxes with dual cone intakes can offer solid Q50 horsepower gains. With a tune expect to see performance intake power gains around 5-15whp. The more boost you run the more power you’ll see from intake mods.
Performance intakes for the Infiniti VR30DDTT 3.0T engine also improve throttle response. Additionally, expect to hear more turbo spool and induction sounds. This is especially true with open cone filters as removing the airboxes frees up a lot of engine sounds.
Infiniti VR30DDTT Intake Options
We highly recommend opting for an open intake design on the Q50 VR30 engine, such as these BMS Billet Intakes. There is no need for an airbox on intercooled turbo engines like the VR30DDTT. The air temperature at the filters has little to no impact on the intercoolers ability to cool the charge air.
Ultimately, open intakes offer maximum flow and turbo/induction sounds. The BMS intakes come with heat shields and CNC machined MAF housings. At $329 they’re well-priced and offer excellent power gains, flow, and sounds. For an extra $80 you can add in upgraded Infiniti Q50 turbo inlets to maximize power gains.
Price: $329.00 (optional $80 turbo inlets)
Power Gains: 5-15whp (gains are higher on more aggressive tunes and boost)
3) Infiniti Q50 Downpipe Mods
Downpipes (DP) are one of the best basic bolt-on mods for the Infiniti Q50. Outside of a tune, downpipes are likely the best simple performance upgrade. The downpipes bolt directly to the turbochargers and house restrictive catalytic converters (cats).
Cats are great for emissions reasons but not so much for performance. Restrictive cats cause excess backpressure which in turn traps heat, slows turbo spool, and increases exhaust gas reversion. The downpipes are the single most important part of the Q50 exhaust when it comes to improving power.
With fully catless downpipe mods the Q50 can see power gains in the 20-40whp ballpark. You’ll also notice a deeper, more aggressive exhaust note under heavy throttle. However, downpipes will still sound close to stock for normal driving or idling.
Q50 VR30 LDP vs Full Downpipes
The Infiniti Q50 has 4 catalytic converters – two primary cats in the upper downpipes and two secondary cats in the lower DP’s. A lower downpipe (LDP) on the Q50 VR30DDTT engine is the most common upgrade. This is because the secondary cats are actually the most restrictive part.
As such, the bulk of the power gains come from the Q50 LDP. This is where you’ll likely see gains of about 15-25whp. However, upgrading the upper DP’s still offers plenty of power gains. Some claim horsepower gains of up to 20whp more with full downpipes compared to just the LDP.
If you’re looking for the full catless downpipes then consider the AMS Performance Race Downpipes. They also offer just the LDP or full downpipes with high-flow cats. However, the full downpipes with cats come in at a whopping $1,899.95.
Buy Here: Infiniti Q50 AMS Full Downpipes
Price: $439.95 – $1,899.95
Power Gains: 15-40whp
4) VR30DDTT Heat Exchanger Upgrades
Many turbo engines of the past utilized air-to-air intercoolers. These were often known as a front mount intercooler or FMIC for short. However, the Infiniti Q50 and VR30DDTT use air-to-water intercoolers. There are actually two intercoolers on the VR30 and they’re top-mounted in the engine bay.
The heat exchanger is a critical part of the air-to-water intercooler system. It sits just behind the bumper and acts in much the same way as a radiator. Ambient air passes over the heat exchanger to cool the water/coolant mixture, which then travels to the intercoolers to cool the charge air.
Infiniti Q50 heat exchanger upgrades increase the surface area of the heat exchanger. This helps maximize cooling and keep intake air temperatures (IAT) as low as possible. Not only is cold air denser, but it also prevents the engine from pulling boost and timing. Hot air increases the risk of knock so the ECU pulls timing and boost to keep the engine safe when temps are too hot.
Now, the Q50 heat exchanger mods aren’t big power upgrades for “glory runs”. On a single, short pull the stock VR30DDTT heat exchanger is sufficient. However, during multi-gear pulls or back-to-back pulls the heat exchanger and intercoolers are quickly overwhelmed. In other words, heat exchanger upgrades may not offer big peak gains but they do ensure consistent performance and prevent power loss.
Best Q50 VR30 Heat Exchanger Upgrades
One key factor for heat exchanger upgrades is surface area. Again, the heat exchanger acts like a radiator in that it uses outside air to cool the water/coolant mixture. A larger surface area catches more air and improves the cooling effect. Fluid volume within the heat exchanger is another important factor.
Sticking with trend, we’re big fans of BMS products (like the Q50 JB4 and Billet intakes). They also offer a VR30DDTT High Capacity Heat Exchanger for the Infiniti Q50 & Q60. It offers 2x the surface area and 3x more volume when compared to the stock Q50 heat exchanger.
At $429 it’s a very well-priced, quality product that’s sure to impress. Mishimoto and AMS Performance also offer some excellent options, but they will set you back about $200-400 more.
Buy Here: Infiniti Q50 BMS Heat Exchanger Mods
Power Gains: 0-5whp on “glory runs” (the real benefit is on back-to-back runs where heat exchangers prevent power loss)
5) Infiniti Q50 Fueling Mods
Last up is fueling mods for the Infiniti Q50 and VR30DDTT engine. It’s usually best to start with the basic bolt-ons above and low E85 blends or pump fuels. However, once you reach the limits you’ll need higher quality fueling to push any further.
Race gas, water-methanol injection (WMI), and E85 are three quality fueling options. Race gas is simple since it doesn’t require anymore fuel flow than standard pump gas. However, it can be expensive and hard to find.
Then there is water-methanol injection like this BMS Q50 WMI kit. WMI is a great mod for forced induction engines, but comes with downsides of its own. It’s a long topic and E85 is our main focus here as it’s the highly-proven and effective way to make more power. Anyway, we’ll circle back to WMI as an article of its own.
Ultimately, E85 is the best solution to making more power. It’s a renewable fuel made primarily from corn. The stoichiometric ratio of E85 is much lower than that of gasoline. As such, your fuel system needs to flow a LOT more fuel which quickly overwhelms the stock Q50 fuel system. However, E85 is extremely resistant to engine knock and burns a lot cooler than gasoline. Regardless of the specific engine or car in question, E85 is often the very best fueling solution to making massive power safely.
Q50 VR30DDTT Fuel System Mods for E85
As briefly mentioned, E85 requires a lot more fuel flow than normal pump fuels. The VR30DDTT uses direct injection so there is both a high-pressure fuel pump (HPFP) and low-pressure fuel pump (LPFP). You’ll need to upgrade both fuel pumps if you intend to run full E85 on the Infiniti Q50.
AMS Performance offers both upgrades and they’re a very popular option. Depending on the specific E85 blend you may also consider additional upgrades. AMS has direct injector upgrades, fuel rails, sensors, flex fuel kits, and some other fueling mods for the Q50 VR30. If you intend to run E85 we recommend working with a tuner and doing a lot of research before moving forward.
How Much Power Can the VR30 Make?
The first four mods for the Infiniti Q50 are typically considered full bolt-on (FBO). The exact meaning of an FBO VR30DDTT can vary. Some consider the HPFP and LPFP upgrades a part of FBO, too.
Anyway, less the fueling mods, a FBO Q50 can make about 440-475whp and 475-550wtq. Pushing much further generally requires fueling upgrades to handle heavy E85 blends or turbo upgrades. With stock turbos and E85 the VR30 engine can make upwards of 500-525whp and 500-575wtq.
Pushing beyond those numbers will likely require turbo upgrades and other potentially costly mods depending on how far you want to go. With turbo upgrades the VR30DDTT can make 550-600+whp and AMS even took their Q60 to over 800whp. Regardless of your goals, the Infiniti Q50 and VR30 are impressive platforms with a lot of potential.