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2017 INFINITI Q60 Red Sport 400 is ready for the big war

2017 INFINITI Q60 Red Sport 400 is ready for the big war

INFINITI seemingly has the right tool to pry folks from the establishment By ,

You may not know it from looking at the car here, but the INFINITI Q60 has actually been around for many years. It is essentially a re-badged continuation of the older G37 coupe, itself a continuation of the big-selling G35 coupe of 2008. That car was attractive with a balanced RWD or AWD platform, deep-chested, naturally aspirated V6 power, and a growly twin exhaust, not to mention niceties befitting of a luxury coupe such as real leather, chrome accents, and plump seating. It was a great combo, and it sold well.

Sales cooled, however, with the G37 model. It was time for INFINITI to shake things up if they were going to compete with the likes of the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe or even the Cadillac ATS Coupe

Dressed to thrill
Just look at it! The new Q60’s gorgeous flowing lines that look like they were crafted from a fine wax, proper long-hooded, cab-rearward silhouette, big dinner plates for wheels, and the now signature INFINITI kink on the C-pillars all come together to form the nicest-looking model in the segment. 

And that’s before we even start discussing the fantastic details: sharp-eyed headlamps, enlarged 6-point grille, red brake calipers (an “S” model exclusive). Even the way the mirror-integrated turn signals have been given a flared shape shows just how much attention has been paid to detail here. The Japanese company needed to make a statement with this car, and on exterior looks alone, they have.

Grand Touring style
INFINITI designers haven’t forgotten the interior environs, of course. In this segment, you need to get this right or buyers will quickly hop to a competitor’s entrant.

While the monochromatic cabin of our tester may not look so flashy, there are brighter colours to choose from like cream or even bright red. Still, even in the tuxedo black seen here, you get the feeling that you’re stepping into something special. Those colour-matched carbon fibre inserts do take some getting used to, however.

Take the door panels, for example. There are many intersecting lines here, but instead of clashing, they all flow together nicely, almost turning the doors into an artist canvas. The way the lower portion meets the upper almost looks like land hitting the horizon in a landscape piece. The rest is very clean, helped mainly by the infotainment deck which is essentially two screens stacked atop one another. The gear lever is a little tall, making the storage bin behind it hard to reach and forcing you to use a cup holder for your phone, but the leather-wrapped steering wheel is properly chunky and feels great to hold. 

The pedals are judiciously spaced and the almost wing-backed chairs used for seats are nicely angled so that the seating position is right on the money. When we attended the launch of the 2017 INFINITI Q60 late last year, both my driving partner and I (two very different body types) found the cabin comfortable. Of course, like any coupe, the Q60’s rear seats are a squeeze, but you’ll have no trouble fitting a golf bag back there, which is likely all they’re going to be used for in the end anyway. 

Tech talk
As mentioned before, the centre stack is essentially made up of two screens, one iPad-like number for your infotainment and drive settings, and a more traditional screen that displays your navigation or smart Around View monitor that features cameras looking forward, backward, above the front right wheel or top-down. While a higher resolution would be appreciated, all those cameras definitely make the long INFINITI Q60 much easier to park in tight quarters. 

The lower screen really is the nerve centre of the whole operation, mind you. There is way too much stuff to be listed here, so we’ll focus on what really separates the Q60 from the competition.

There are six drive modes available: Personal, Sport+, Sport, Standard, Eco, and Snow. That’s not especially unique, but the way the steering can be tuned absolutely is. Like the Q50 sedan, the INFINITI Q60 gets a steer-by-wire system that interprets the driver’s inputs, and transmits the data to the front wheels. Those, in turn, have an actuator that actually changes the wheel angle. What that means is a smooth setup, one that can also be easily modified, and INFINITI allows the driver to adjust how heavy the steering feels, and how much steering angle it takes to change direction, independent of one another. It’s no smoke and mirrors, either; the differences are quite tangible. The drive modes, meanwhile, have steering presets to go along with the throttle, transmission, suspension, and traction control intervention levels they also offer. All of this can be individually modified, even within the individual drive modes.

I didn’t find that much of a difference between the various damper settings, however; they were all pretty firm. Luckily, the INFINITI Q60 is drum-tight overall, so the firm dampers didn’t rattle the teeth too badly on bumpier pavement.

Blistering power
The steer-by-wire system does cut down on steering feel quite markedly. I know that most of today’s cars use electronic assist as opposed to hydraulic power, but the Q60 still separates the driver from the road more than most. 

That’s too bad, because the rest of the driving experience is—there’s really no other way to say it—certifiably awesome.

Especially when you opt for the INFINITI Q60 S Red Sport 400 model seen here, which features a twin-turbocharged V6 good for 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, all-wheel drive and a 7-speed automatic transmission, allowing 0-100 km/h sprints in five seconds flat. You’ll be thankful for those cushy seats, because your back will get firmly pressed into them upon hard acceleration, especially if you’ve activated the Sport or Sport+ mode. What’s more, the engine sounds fantastic through those twin pipes, and less manufactured than many INFINITIs from years past, from the G37 to the QX70 crossover. 

If that’s a little too much for you, the Q60 lineup also includes a 300hp 3.0T model or a 208hp 2.0T version that is a bit more tractable for everyday use. It would be hard for me to skip that motor, though, even with a $60,990 MSRP (the base Q60 starts at $44,990, and the mid-level engine at $52,990). It’s just that good.

Once you get past the numbish steering, you’ll find the Q60’s chassis to be an able and willing one when it comes to the bends. Thanks to proper damper settings, the body never gets too far out of sorts, while the firm chassis (stiffer overall than the previous generation) provides the distinct impression that the car is moving along as one solid mass. There are no rattles, no squeaks; just strong, silent progress that is befitting or actually required of a luxury sports coupe.

Battle-ready
The 2017 INFINITI Q60 does have a steep hill to climb, however. Try as they might, INFINITI just can’t seem to get the same traction with buyers in this segment that the old-money German brands do. They had it once, with the G35, but that has eroded a little over the years. 

For sure, the Q60 looks the business, it boasts one of the gutsiest engines in the industry, and the available tech is second to none (INFINITI was one of the first brands to offer a fully functional active lane-keep assist system, for example). In the end, you’re getting a lot for your money with this car. INFINITI is going to have to work hard to pry folks from the establishment, but with the Q60 they might just have the right tool to accomplish the feat.

 

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2017 Infiniti Q60
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Photos:D.Heyman
2017 'INFINITI Q60 Red Sport 400 pictures