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2017 INFINITI Q60 Test Drive Review
The Infiniti Q60 arrives fully redesigned with new engines, a retuned transmission, and the second generation of Direct Adaptive Steering, hoping to make you forget that luxury sport coupes were born in Europe.
What’s the recipe for taking on the German standards in the luxury sport coupe segment? Infiniti thinks it’s technology plus value and a bit of theatre, and it may be right. With a fully redesigned Q60, Infiniti doubles down on the promise it made way back when with the G35 and G37, adding a new GT-R-related twin-turbo V6, a retuned 7-speed transmission, and a fully drive-by-wire setup that promises to be better than you in every regard. But better doesn’t mean fun. After all, a dual-clutch automatic is faster and more efficient than a traditional, 3-pedal manual, but it’s nowhere near as engaging. Regardless, the Q60 doesn’t offer either. What it does offer is striking styling, impressive handling, and more tech than a closeout sale at Radio Shack.
Look and Feel
The Infiniti Q60 is based on the same FM platform as the Nissan 370Z, and if you go for the 6-cylinder version, it gets a new VR-code engine that can claim shared heritage with the GT-R and the late-'90s R390 GT1 LeMans race car. That’s good company to keep. If you’re familiar with the 4-door Q50 based on the same platform, the Q60 is significantly lower and shorter than the sedan—about 2 and 4 inches, respectively. That’s enough to make an immediate visual difference, and the Q60 sits with a raised haunch and a forward-leaning stance that scream aggression.
Some have criticized Infiniti of late for an abundance of creases and folds and unnecessary lines crowding every surface of its cars. An argument not without merit, I still like what I see here. Take a look at small touches like the accent at the top middle of the grille, and you’ve got something that not only stands out, but offers some personality and panache to what can be a very boring segment at times. The same can be said for the new headlights that sneer like angry cartoon eyes, stuffed and flanked with LEDs. It’s a quirky personality and style that’ll set Infiniti apart in this segment, and in this respect it's doing very well.
Start with the base 2.0T and you’ll get a Mercedes-crafted 4-cylinder turbocharged engine for a beginning price of $38,950 if you’re cool with rear-wheel drive (RWD). Opt for all-wheel drive (AWD) and you’ll push just past $40K. Here you’ll enjoy LED head- and foglights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone auto climate controls, and 8-way power seats with leatherette, heated mirrors, 19-inch alloys, and a dual-touchscreen Infiniti Touch interface. Not bad for the price.
Move up to 2.0T Premium and you’ll get a standard sunroof that’s optional in the base 2.0T and an upgraded Bose stereo with more than twice the speakers of the standard system. Add HD Radio and you can do the math for a $41,300 price. Want AWD instead of RWD? Those extra wheels getting power mean you’ll tack another $2,000 onto the sticker.
With the 3.0T Premium, we move up to a 300-hp version of that new twin-turbo V6 I mentioned, plus the traditional hydraulic steering system gets replaced by an electric setup. These two changes mean the price for a RWD configuration jumps to $44,300, just $1,000 more than an AWD 2.0T Premium. AWD is again another $2,000, but the real upgrade at this level are the options available, none of which can be added to the 2.0T trims, sadly.
You can add real leather to the interior, and a Driver Assistance package will get you parking sensors front and rear. Nissan’s now-familiar 360-degree camera view, blind-spot monitoring, auto wipers, and auto braking front and rear with a forward-collision warning system are all available. A Technology Package can build off that further with adaptive cruise, intervention for the BSM, lane departure and intervention, and adaptive headlights with auto high beams. But if you’re looking for just a bit more luxury, the Premium Plus package will get you a power heated steering wheel and front seats with memory for driver's settings, power bolsters for the driver’s seat, auto-dimming mirrors, and a navigation system linked with the transmission to plan ahead and deliver enhanced efficiency.
This is also where you’ll be able to taste Infiniti’s second-gen Direct Adaptive Steering, but as you’ll see in the Performance Section below, you may want to avoid it.
Infiniti has a lot to prove here, and to that aim they provided me with the top-tier Red Sport 400 trim, which gets a 400-hp version of the 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V6, here with 14.7 psi running through those innovative turbos, as opposed to 8.7 in the 3.0T. But it’s more than just power. In RWD form, you’ll get staggered 19-inch forged alloy wheels, alloy pedals, paddle shifters on a unique wheel, sport seats with the power bolsters, and an impressive adaptive suspension. Leather is included here, along with the auto-dimming mirrors, but what’s curious is what isn’t included. The Red Sport 400 starts at $51,300, but if you want navigation, remote start, and heated seats and steering wheel, you’ll still have to pay the extra $2,250 for the Premium Plus package. It’s the same with the Technology and Driver Assistance packages—they add another $1,850 and $2,250. My test vehicle came with both, along with the optional Direct Adaptive Steering for another $1,000 and a unique Dynamic Sunstone Red paint job for another $800. With the $905 destination charge, my total price came to $60,355.
A “Silver Sport” trim will be coming later in the year, equipped nearly identically to the Red Sport 400, but with skinnier tires and the 300-hp version of the twin-turbo V6 for $48,300 with RWD and $50,300 with AWD.
Starting with a Mercedes engine is a good foundation for a luxury sport coupe, and this one comes from the GLA, where it’s been able to put down a near 6-second sprint to 60 mph. That’s plenty fast, but slow for the segment, as competitor’s turbo-4 offerings are able to best it easily. And let’s not forget, the Q60 is about 400 pounds heavier than the GLA, so the numbers should only get worse. Still, it’s a smooth, grunty engine with less turbo lag than you’d expect from its 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Don’t forget, it’s a version of the same engine Mercedes puts in the GLA 45 AMG, where it delivers an astonishing 355 hp and 332 lb-ft, so it won’t exactly be taxed. But still, with 22 city mpg and 30 highway in RWD configuration, the 2.0T here won't win any medals. Go with AWD and you’ll get just 21/28, while competitive offerings are delivering mid-30s for highway numbers.
The 3.0T is a much better solution here. With 300 hp on tap and 295 lb-ft of torque arriving just off idle and sticking around until past 5,000 rpm, the Q60 wakes up to become a stout performer. A lot of work was put into this new engine, with dual water-filled, dual electric-pump-driven intercoolers (the 300-hp version gets a single electric pump) that can be mounted on top of the engine, halving the intake path and improving that very important throttle response time. A resin intake and an exhaust manifold integrated into the cylinder head mean the engine isn’t as tall as you’d expect, either. This much new tech often gives me pause when I start thinking about longevity, but it’s all part of the same tech tree that went into the R390 GT1, so perhaps my worry is unwarranted.
That’s not all that went into this engine, either. Direct injection and mirror-coating for the bore aim to increase efficiency and decrease internal friction—both good ideas. And those tiny Honeywell turbos spool up to 220,000 rpm, a nearly 50% increase in speed over your typical turbine. In the Red Sport 400 that adds up to a somewhat predictable 400 hp and a tire-shredding 350 lb-ft of torque. Despite staggered tires on the RWD version, it’s capable of breaking traction at nearly any speed, even with the traction control on, which makes for some interesting driving depending on the relative weight of your right foot. That said, it’s eager, powerful, and full of character—something Infiniti has needed desperately in a segment where it’s struggled to get noticed.
The power comes on like a bomb, and so do the traction and stability control. Left engaged, they intrude viciously, arresting any sideways motion abruptly. Taken off, they’ll let the tires spin until they come off the wheels. That shouldn’t do good things for your wallet when it comes to replacing rubber or filling the tank, but the Q60 isn’t terrible here. You’ll see an EPA-estimated 19/28 with RWD and 19/27 with AWD in the 300-hp version, and the 400-hp version isn’t that far off with 20 mpg city/27 highway in RWD and 19/26 with AWD.
400 horsepower and nearly 4,000 pounds of weight isn’t my favorite combination in the world, but the adaptive suspension here works overtime to make sure you don’t feel all those pounds. Yes, the Q60 feels hefty, but it never feels 4,000-pounds hefty, and that situation only improves with speed. The suspension soaks up nearly any body movement, and the Q60 stays flat and stiff through all corners. The problem is the steering.
With this second generation of Direct Adaptive Steering, things were supposed to feel more natural, more intuitive. Consider the mark officially missed. When in Sport or Sport+, the off-center feel is extremely light and numb but ramps up quickly, making it difficult to hold your line through a turn. There are three settings for steering input, two of which have three additional settings for off-center feel, but I could never find one that felt natural. Eventually I just went with the standard setting rather than Sport or Sport+, as it was the least manic in its presentation, allowing me to steer a little less ham-fistedly and follow my own line.
But, unless you stay in the exact middle of the lane, a system called Active Trace Control jumps in to put you back in place—not ideal for hitting the apex. Here, ATC decides where the car should be, and if you start to wander beyond that, individual wheel braking is activated to steer your car back in place, accompanied by electromechanical vibrations through the wheel—like we used to feel through the pedal with early ABS systems. That one I turned off completely as it kept identifying “lines” that weren’t there, and the intrusions into my steering decisions weren’t welcome. Even more worrisome, the system shut off completely on me while driving for about 10 seconds. Luckily, it was just in a parking lot, and the mechanical backup linkage was still there to provide a very welcome and very heavy direct connection between the steering wheel and the front tires. 10 interesting seconds later and the system just suddenly came back on. Thankfully, DAS is an option you don’t have to choose, so feel free to save $1,000 and go with the standard setup.
There’s been a lot of talk about the 7-speed transmission here, and the desire for a dual-clutch setup. There are times where there’s some lag from the transmission, especially when using the paddle shifters, but I don’t feel this warrants an upgrade to a dual-clutch. That would severely hamper the drivability of the car around town, which is where I think the Q60 will stand tallest. For the Red Sport 400? Maybe. For the 3.0T that I think will be the winner here? It would be overkill.
Form and Function
The Q60 looks the part with its aggressive rake, high haunches, and long hood tipped with those menacing eyes. Sultry curves and sharp lines offer a combination that somehow ends up as a femme fatale on steroids—the power is there, but the elegance isn’t completely lost. Personally, I would’ve liked to have seen some more personal touches to distinguish the Red Sport 400 trim from the rest of the Q60 lineup, but the fact that the interior still works here with relatively little change means it’s a solid foundation from the start. Faux contrast stitching around the cabin surfaces provide the right sporty element with a luxury touch, and silver carbon-fibre-look inserts hint at the Q60’s tech ambitions. In general, you’ll notice a lot of Nissan around the cabin, which may bother some buyers once you cross the $50,000 mark, but if interior quality and luxury are what you really want, I’d go check out the Mercedes options.
I can’t say enough good things about the front seats, especially with the driver’s adjustable bolsters. At 6-feet, 4-inches tall, I had no trouble finding a good position, and there was no lack of head- or legroom. The back seat deserves no such honors. I couldn’t fit back there without cocking my head painfully to the side, as it was jammed up against the rear glass, and my legs wouldn’t fit without the seat in front of me nearly all the way forward. This is to be expected in this segment, but even the shorter people I managed to stuff back there reported that the seats themselves weren’t very comfortable. Perhaps your passengers will be less picky, but mine weren’t happy back there.
The infotainment layout was pleasantly restrained without too many buttons or knobs crowding the surface, although I’d really like a second knob for tuning as well as one for volume. The two touchscreens can be operated via the usual touch interface and some redundant buttons, but there’s also a control knob behind the shifter. I found this too far back to comfortably use, and the control it offered was confusing at best. I left it alone after a day of playing with it.
The Q60's 8.7 cubic feet of trunk space doesn’t sound like much, but it was enough for me to take two adults and a dog camping in the mountains for a few days, so it’s very useable space. I even brought a large cooler and still had enough room to bring back Christmas gifts for friends and family back east.
Technology is king in the Q60, but that doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the reign. Properly outfitted, the Q60 will steer you through turns and stop for you as well. Trust these systems completely, and it’s easy to get lulled into near peripheral participation. This can’t be a good thing, but you can’t blame Infiniti for that, either. Because the Q60 is fully drive-by-wire when you go with DAS, that means it’ll sight the lines on the road and keep you from wandering out of your lane, it’ll spot the car in front of you and adjust your speed—even to a stop—if it’s getting too close. It’s a strong enough system that I even allowed it to steer me through some turns at speed with my hands off the wheel, and it negotiated without incident. Braking is the same, and even with adaptive cruise control off, when you turn all the sensors on, it’ll handle everything but emergency braking situations.
That said, it still activated on me a couple of times when it saw a dark patch in the road, and that’s unnerving. And the lane-keep intervention can be confused by merging patterns and has trouble with short dotted lines that sometimes appear on the highway rather than the longer patterns we usually see. I know the system is better than me and will certainly save a lot of accidents and even lives, but I get nervous when it starts activating when it shouldn't.
The dual touchscreens work nicely, although I’d prefer things integrated into one larger screen. As is, the resolution differs greatly between the two, and things can get a bit confusing with all the buttons and knobs that work on only one screen or the other. I’d prefer some distillation of the interface, and please make Apple CarPlay and Android Auto an option here.
With all the technological goodies available, it seems almost impossible to get into an accident with the Q60. But with my frustrations with the systems, I ended up disengaging most of them, so it ends up being a bit of a trade-off. When you test drive, make sure to pay close attention to how all these systems operate. The Q60 is already a good deal in the segment, but if you’re going to end up turning off some of these systems, like I did, you can turn it into a great deal by shaving off a couple grand here and there. There are great things in every package, however, so it’ll be a hard decision.
Brakes are stellar, although upgraded in the Red Sport 400. With autonomous braking forward and in reverse, you’ve got that extra level of security and even through a punishing few hours cruising up and down mountain passes, I never felt a bit of fade. The traction and stability control systems hang over you with parental authority—unless you turn them off—and quickly guide you out of any potential trouble, even if they can’t keep the tires from chirping and spinning.
Full-length curtain-side airbags complement a full suite of the usual bags, and the Technology Package additionally features upgraded seatbelts that lock you in upon clicking them in place and tighten up pre-collision. The Q60 has not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Here’s where Infiniti bets you’ll be won over. Other than the ATS, the Q60 stands as the lowest-price entry in the luxury sport coupe segment. But that’s not where its value really lies. If you’re looking at the lower trims with the 4-cylinder engine, competitors may cost a little more, but you’re getting stronger engines with better gas mileage and more standard features. Looking at the top end with the Red Sport 400, you’ll have to pay more than $60,000 to get all the goodies, and you’ll still have an overall less-engaging ride than some of the performance variants of the competitive offerings. With the disappointment that comes with the Direct Adaptive Steering and some of the intrusive safety systems, I can’t really call that a deal. But the mid-level 3.0T or even the Silver Sport edition? I believe those will be strong competitors for even the German offerings. They deserve a test drive if this is the segment you’re shopping.
A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.
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