– Very powerful engine
– Cabin trim and features
– Dynamic handling
– Steering feedback
– Clunky multimedia setup
– Somewhat firm ride
The long-running, briefly-renamed Infiniti G37 Coupe finally comes to an end as it has been replaced by the all-new Q60 Coupe for 2017. It was a long time coming, considering the Q50 sedan has been around for a good few years now. However, the Q60 Coupe pushes the boundaries in design terms far more than the sedan, and in Red Sport form, quite the performer as well.
Our Infiniti Q60 S Red Sport 400, as it’s officially called, has no badges to identify it as the 400 hp version, other than the ‘S’ badge in red on the boot-lid. It’s exactly the same length as the Q50 sedan, but the Q60 is a more stunning car, with a flowing design language that’s better than even the Italians. When we parked it next to a Maserati Ghibli, the Q60 looked like it was from the same family, only better looking. With smoked 18-inch alloys, dual exhaust tips and prominent side-fender vents, it ticks all the right boxes for a premium sporty coupe. Oddly enough, we were still getting tailgated around town by fleet vehicles, which means the Infiniti name still has some way to go in terms of brand-building, but it should get prime valet spots at hotels every once in a while.
Inside, it’s familiar yet still impressively fresh, as we were hit with all the red leather on the stylish, well-bolstered seats as well as the reshaped door panels, with a contrasting black dashboard taken from the Q50, but upgraded with new materials. The stitched leather also covers parts of the dash and upper window sills, and goes all the way along the centre console, on the inner door handles, and on padded armrest and sidewall inserts for rear passengers. There are still hard plastics making up the lower panels up front, and rear passengers are surrounded by hard plastics on the window sills, but it is still an impressive interior. The weave-look aluminium trim around the shifter console may be a bit too flashy though, in what is otherwise a classy cabin.
Space is abundant up front, while two average-sized adults do sort of fit in the back if the front passengers are average-sized too. An odd ergonomic complaint we have is that the front seat-belts are mounted too high, cutting into our necks when worn, and they cannot be adjusted. Many other coupes have them mounted at window-sill level.
There’s enough cup-holders for all passengers, although none of them with covers unfortunately. Door pockets, a decent-sized glove-box and a centre-armrest cubby round out the main storage options. Unfortunately the boot is shallow, although there is enough space for a couple of large trolley suitcases. Even a Ford Mustang GT has around 50% more volume.
Infiniti’s latest infotainment system includes a multimedia touchscreen that uses a second touchscreen below it to act as a control panel with icons. The screens support swiping and pinching, but are not as instantly-responsive as we’d like, and some features such as Facebook status and email readouts using your mobile data package are a bit overkill. Interestingly, you can even connect and get Google Maps data for more detailed navigation. Thankfully, there are still physical buttons for a/c controls and basic stereo functions. There is even a rotary dial just aft of the gear-shifter to control the same screen, in case you prefer the physical touch.
Other available tech on the Infiniti Q50 include the optional four-camera “around-view” parking aid, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, strong dual-zone auto a/c with rear vents, smart keyless entry and start, memory front seats, a great 13-speaker Bose stereo option, USB, Bluetooth and all the usual luxury features, although the sunroof is small, and there are decidedly cost-saving features, such as the rebadged Nissan smart key, the rather small LCD screen between the gauges, and seat heaters but not coolers. Safety features are generous though, and include a full set of airbags, ABS, ESP, tyre-pressure monitor and more, including options such as blind-spot warning and intervention, predictive collision warning and automatic emergency braking.
Also available with 211 hp 2.0-litre turbo engine option, the Red Sport comes with a direct-injection 3.0-litre turbo V6 making 400 hp at 6400 rpm and 475 Nm of torque from 1600 to 5200 rpm. Mated to a 7-speed automatic and rear-wheel-drive, it promises to be a monster of an engine. Confirmation comes in the form of a 0-100 kph time of 5.5 seconds in August summer weather, truly a quick car, but not without its flaws. The response is odd as there is an initial lag for a few noticeable milliseconds at low revs before suddenly dumping all that juice onto the ground. On the roll, this can be overcome by simply staying in the mid-range revs all the time by slipping the transmission into Sport mode, keeping the turbo always spooled up. Still, the industrial engine note isn’t attractive enough to keep the revs that high all the time, so switch to the more dynamic driving mode only when you want to do battle.
The massive benefit of the turbo motor becomes obvious at the petrol pump however, as we got an economy figure of 13.5 litres/100 km (7.4 km/litre), very impressive for a 400 hp speedster.
The handling is rather excellent. The Q50 runs through most curves with a neutral demeanour, apparently kept in line by something called “active trace control” that attempts to make cornering tighter. It is generally hard to break traction on the corners due to the sticky 245/40 tyres, but pump the throttle in a tight corner, and you can make the rear step out with ease thanks to all that turbo torque. It can even feel rather twitchy if you are not disciplined enough with your inputs. But with a deft right foot, it’s possible to have fun with tail-out antics thanks to a balanced chassis, if you can get over the steering’s lack of feedback and precision.
The fully-electric drive-by-wire adaptive steering, essentially set up like a video game with no direct connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels, used to feel better in the Q50 3.7 sedan we drove a year ago (even if it was artificially simulated), but perplexingly lacks any sort of feedback in our Q60 coupe. It can still be set up to be soft or firm, and dials out steering vibrations when driving over rough terrain, but that last bit of responsiveness is missing which would’ve turned the Q60 into a sports car rather than a sporty coupe. Maybe we missed a setting somewhere in the electronic menus. There is still a mechanical setup that only engages in case the electronic system fails completely. The base Q60 2.0T gets traditional hydraulic steering, oddly enough.
The ride comfort is reasonably compliant, although being a sportier model, it is clearly firmer than the Q50 sedan, and can be occassionally harsh on some surfaces. Wind and road noises are higher than the sedan as well, although the engine is muted thanks to active noise cancellation. The gearbox tuning is smart enough to leave it to its own devices, while the progressive brake pedal has some weight to it and stop the car very well.
The Infiniti Q60 gets so many things right, with its evocative styling, entertaining chassis dynamics and newfound power. We put the outgoing Q50 3.7 sedan on our recommended list, but with these new turbo models, there’s just that last bit of fine-tuning left before Nissan’s luxury nameplate can truly beat down on the Germans. It’s oh-so-close to being the best in the business.
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