That’s 400 hp under that stylish plastic engine cover.
Does the letter Q and the number 60 sound more formidable than, say, a G and a 37? Either way, the car to which that nomenclature is glued represents a new and more significant challenger to the luxury sports coupe status quo. But whether buyers park their BMW 4-Series, Audi A5s and Lexus RCs is yet to be seen.
Did buyers cross-shop the Q60 against those marques? Certainly some did, but this isn’t exactly a volume category.
“The fact of the matter is nobody ever needed a coupe,” said Keith St. Clair, director of product planning for Infiniti. “These are objects of desire. It’s designed to make the heart beat faster.”
Indeed, coupes are only 5 percent of the D-segment body style to begin with. Chop that up further among several manufacturers and you have a very small sliver of a small market. So how does a carmaker stand out? How about styling? The fact that it doesn’t have the Lexus RC’s spindle grille could put the Infiniti on some shoppers’ lists. Indeed, Infiniti is as proud of the Q60’s styling as its mechanical attributes. The new coupe is longer, lower and wider than the G37. The lines of the new car follow almost on top of those of the 2016 Q60 Coupe concept shown in Detroit in 2015 — which itself was heavily influenced by the Q80 Inspiration concept, Q50 Eau Rouge concept and even the Essence concept from way back in 2009. Infiniti likes making concepts. Do you like the look of the 2017 Q60? Does it express to you what Infiniti calls “powerful elegance” that is all about “confidently projecting a sense of motion and power”? Only you can say.
You will certainly appreciate the mechanical upgrades.
That’s 400 hp under that stylish plastic engine cover.
There are several trim levels and powertrain combinations of the Q60. However, we saw and drove only the top-of-the-line Q60 Red Sport 400. So we can’t tell you about the entry-level Q60 with the 208-hp 2.0-liter turbo or the mid-level 300-hp 3.0-liter V6. For this review you will have to make do with the 400-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with rear-wheel drive. Hang in there.
The 400-hp 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine is the same as the 300-hp unit in the mid-level Q60, but Infiniti keeps the wastegate shut a little longer, upping peak boost from 0.65 bar in the mid-level Q to 1.0 bar in our 400-hp Red Sport. To do that required better oil cooling and a very precise turbo speed sensor. The sensor is described in Infiniti literature as “optical,” but Mineke Iwaki, manager for vehicle dynamics engineering, said it actually measures fluctuations in the magnetic charge emitted as the turbo spins, which sounds far more sciencey to us. By knowing the exact speed of each of the two turbos, engineers are able to get closer to the engine’s maximum load capacity, increasing boost to nearer the limit without fear of blowing the whole thing up like an M80 in a cantaloupe. The turbos themselves are integrated into the headers, which are integrated into the cylinder head for greater efficiency, offering a shorter flow to the catalytic converters and greater rigidity.
The next-coolest tech on the Q60 is the second version of Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering. It’s steer-by-wire with a backup mechanical steering system in case everything goes south during the next electromagnetic pulse. The best thing is you can customize the steering performance to your liking and store your preferences in the “personal” setting of the Drive Mode Selector. Steering responses can be set among a crazy bandwidth of ratios, from 11.86:1 to 29.38:1. Have you ever heard of anything like that? What a world we live in! The DAS system allows you to pick from five different possible settings for engine response, transmission performance, steering and digital suspension. The modes are: snow, eco, standard, sport and sport-plus. The whole thing sounds mighty promising. Or maybe it’s just confusing, at least at first.
What’s it like to drive?
This is, at its heart, a gran turismo, and a rather heavy one. Our rear-wheel-drive Red Sport 400 tipped the scales at a meaty 3,863 pounds, according to Infiniti. The all-wheel-drive Red Sport 400 weighs 4,023 pounds. That’s heavier than all three competitors we listed, but it also has more horsepower. If you divvy up pounds per horsepower, the Infiniti is way ahead of those competitors with 9.7 pounds for every pony. The Infiniti’s 5.0-second 0-60 time also leads the pack, at least among the competitors we listed. (The Lexus RC F has a 467-hp 5.0-liter V8, not a V6, so that’s a class up from here.)
But the Infiniti is still heavy. So what Infiniti is doing here is not so much tuning precise responses to steering inputs as it is controlling mass. One of the things the Drive Mode Selector does is change the orifices (ha ha, he said orifices) inside the shocks, stiffening or softening the dampers as needed. This is in theory a good way to get different stiffnesses, but in practice, as with any such system from innumerable other manufacturers, the spring rates stay the same so there’s only one setting for which the car is in perfect tune. Hence, we liked “standard” best, even on twisty roads. When we cranked it up to sport or sport-plus it got antsy, trying too hard to impress us with liveliness it might not have had but succeeding only in scaring us (or maybe it was irritating us). In any case, we found that we preferred standard for all kinds of driving, from leisurely cruising to tight corners. We tried it several times throughout the day we had the car and never found that we liked anything but standard.
The steering, for all its electronic gymnastics, is also best in standard mode. It’s so well integrated that the changes in ratio come at just the right times and so smoothly that we didn’t notice. The brakes are a little more touchy than we like, but where are you going to find a production car with linear brake pedal feel? Likewise throttle response is just a tad touchy in standard and way too crazy in higher settings. But we didn’t take it on a track, so maybe sport-plus would be perfect there.
On freeways, just cruising around, the car feels perfectly comfortable, at least in the front seats. The seats themselves adjust just right, and the dual-screen center console offers as much info and data as any reasonable person is likely to want. There’s even a bazillion-watt audio system to rattle your cerebellum all day.
Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 comes in silver, too.
Do I want it?
This is a question only you can answer. With that 400 hp, you will outperform everybody in a straight line and maybe on twisty roads where the twists aren’t too tight. For more squiggly streets maybe the BMW would be better. That’ll be your call, too.
Pricing for our rear-wheel-drive Q60 Red Sport 400 starts at $52,205 — three grand more than the BMW and nine more than the Audi and the Lexus. So the BMW is looking pretty good in this segment, if you’re looking for a more tossable coupe. The Infiniti is comfortable and loaded with features you can play around with, plus it has a unique look that will prevent you from blending in with all those other cars at valet parking. It’s a tough call, and one we’re reluctant to make without a little more track time.
On Sale: Now
Base Price: $52,205
Drivetrain: 3.0-liter twin-turbo gasoline direct-injection V6, 7-speed automatic, RWD
Output: 400 hp at 6,400 rpm; 350 lb-ft from 1,600-5,200 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,863 lb (mfr)
0-60 MPH: 5.0 sec (mfr)
Fuel Economy: 20/27/22 mpg(EPA City/Hwy/Combined)
Pros: A comfortable cruising coupe with unique styling and 400 hp
Cons: Heavier than the competition
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