Are you ready for it? Well here it goes. This is the new 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD, and yes it’s a mouthful, and yes it’s very red. But dig to the bottom of the alphabet soup and you’ll find the much-anticipated replacement to Infiniti’s G-Series sport coupes, vehicles that perfected the art of combining performance and luxury into a two-door specimen.
Infiniti is set to do the same with the new Q60 as it did with the G: to take over the segment and embarrass rivals like the BMW 4-Series, Audi A5, Lexus RC, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe. How do they plan to do that? Well it all starts with the design.
Infiniti has finally come up with some sheetmetal that not only fits with their modern design language but also is alluring and sexy. The Q60 is the one car in their lineup that turns heads wherever it goes and hits that “dream factor,” giving enthusiasts poster material and the opportunity to daydream about the future when they can own one. The Q50 Sedan, though charming as it is, just doesn’t conjure up the same kind of primordial urge.
The Q60’s profile is elegant, the lines are perfectly proportioned, and all ten available paint colours look stunning on this coupe. A new double-arch grill sits up front and screams road presence, as do the LED headlights that are designed to mimic the shape of a human’s eyes, giving it a more personal touch. The rear has just as much personality and expresses design remnants from the outgoing G37 as well.
The interior of the Q60 Coupe is pretty much carried over from the Q50 Sedan except for the new steering wheel that looks and feels more expensive – the center cap also reminds me of a Fruit Gusher – it’s an odd candy trend that has been going around. Example: Mazda’s is shaped like a Rocket candy. Sugar-high designers?
The overall cabin design has gotten a mixed reception from our team, especially when it pertains to those dual screens stacked in the center. Personally, I think it’s a nice touch (one that Hondas and Acuras also use) that allows the top screen to stay dedicated to navigation while the bottom screen manages the rest of infotainment, climate, and driver controls.
The materials used are also up to snuff, namely the magnesium paddle shifters and upgraded sport seats wrapped in the same supple semi-aniline leather that you find in the QX80 mothership. There is no head-up display, ventilated seats, Apple CarPlay, or even a digital speedometer available, but other expected amenities such as a 360-degree camera, blind spot monitoring, and your slew of safety systems are available, as well as a premium Bose system that lodges speakers on the door panel and along the length of the entire dashboard.
Where I think Infiniti gets the edge over its competitors is with the powertrain. There are two engine choices available: a 2.0-litre turbo-four and a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, the latter of which can be had in 300-hp or 400-hp guise. It’s the latter variant that raises our eyebrows, and is aptly named the Red Sport 400.
It’s the same engine found in the Q50 Red Sport 400 Sedan that we drove earlier this year – you can read that review here – and is a distant cousin of the engine found in Godzilla himself. Engineers were able to squeeze out an extra 100 horses out of the V6 to a total of 400 hp by programming the wastegate to stay shut a little longer. This ramps up peak boost to the point where it needs high-tech sensors to keep the two turbos from imploding from the added pressure (an additional 6 psi to a total of 14.7 psi to be exact). A second water-cooled intercooler has also been added.
The final result is 400 hp, 350 lb-ft of torque, and bewildering straight line speed that will leave the 435i and RC 350 as a mere speck in the mirror. The Q60 confuses your senses at first, as the actual ground speed doesn’t correlate with your perception of the speed. The Q60 gets around without much fuss, and acceleration comes on gradually and smoothly rather than whiplashing you to the back of your seat. It almost reminds me of the Lincoln MKZ with its similar 400-hp twin-turbo V6. Instead with the Q60, its exhaust tells you nothing.
Like the Nissan 370Z and Infiniti G37s of yore, the Q60 delivers a high-strung intake noise up front, and the notes it makes are mechanical and whiny (in a good way), making it almost sound like a naturally aspirated V6, the complete opposite of the turbo burbles from a BMW 435i. But there’s virtually nothing coming out the back. The dual exhaust is quiet and subdued, and will be a little disappointing for those that have grown accustomed to the G37’s distinctive howl. With such a well-engineered motor up front, I’d say it deserves to be louder.
All this power is routed through a 7-speed automatic transmission, which is slightly unrefined for my liking. I never found much use for the paddle shifters but when manually downshifting it would feel sluggish, and though it swaps cogs quickly, it’s not as smooth or as buttery as the 8-speed ZF found in the BMW. There is also no option of a manual transmission either.
In Canada, the Q60 is available in all-wheel drive only. Rear-wheel drive is available in other markets, but how often do you really see a BMW 435i on the road in Canada without xDrive anyways? Lexus, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz don’t offer RWD on their sport coupes either, and I’m sure Infiniti is just leaving a bit of room for the upcoming replacement of the rear-wheel drive Nissan 370Z.
The more controversial aspect of the new Q60, and it’s the same topic of discussion with the Q50 Sedan, is Direct Adaptive Steering, a steer-by-wire setup meaning there is no actual physical connection between the steering wheel and the actual wheels (well there is a backup in case the battery fails). Essentially, it’s like piloting the car via a Playstation controller.
This is both a good and bad thing. The good news is that you are given the ability to customize the steering effort to your liking. This means that you can set it to COMFORT for effortless steering, or set it to SPORT for a bit of substance. This ingenious piece of tech also paves the way for autonomous driving in the future.
The bad news? It still doesn’t have much steering feel. It sounds great in theory: a fully electric rack that mutes vibrations from the steering wheel, say, when driving over uneven surfaces such as potholes and undulating roads. While in reality that is true and quite favourable, it also zaps out any soul and feeling out of the driving experience.
As a result, the Q60 Red Sport does not feel as dynamic or charismatic as its rivals, and fits in the market as more of a grand tourer rather than a proper canyon carver. Through turns and curvy back roads, the grip is there, the power is abundant, but it’s hefty curbweight keeps the Q60 just behind the more lithe and athletic BMW 435i.
It was one of the factors that we criticized with the first-generation of Direct Adaptive Steering, which showed almost zero signs of life. Now slightly improved, it does give the Q60 a bit of soul and sends some road texture back to the wheel. Will the majority of drivers really care? No, probably not. It’s nice to have total control over the steering and the option to customize it, but the handful of enthusiasts that ran to the showroom to buy a G35 ten years ago just might.
Luckily, Direct Adaptive Steering isn’t compulsory. You can spec out your Q60 without it and stick with a good-ol’ fashioned electric power assisted steering rack, but we didn’t get a chance to test it.
The new Q60 Red Sport is more of a dedicated luxury coupe rather than a convincing on-track performer. It doesn’t have an inspiring exhaust note, nor does it have the steering feedback we’d desire from a performance vehicle, but when viewed as a luxury car, it’s cosseting seats and refined ride quality steal the show. The Q60 also has some advantageous features up its sleeve like remote engine start – a godsend in the frigid winter and a feature not found in any German or Japanese competitor.
The Q60 may not follow in the footsteps of the outgoing G37 that expertly combined performance and luxury into one seductive concoction, but it does cater towards what most buyers in this niche segment want: accessible power, everyday comfort, and emotional styling. To that, the Infiniti Q60 is a huge success.