SAN DIEGO, California — Nestled among the vine leaves is the gorgeous 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400, a reboot of the company’s popular G37 Coupe. Likewise, high up in the verdant hills outside San Diego at the picturesque Vineyard Grant James, the vistas are stunning. There’s enough natural beauty here to make Ansel Adams weep. The thing that draws the most attention, however, is a Japanese automaker’s latest product. Out here in wine country, where the modern tends to take a backseat to the traditional, the Q60 — packed to the rafters with new and improved tech — stands out like a Sharpie in Michelangelo’s brush box.
Its Dynamic Sunstone Red paint job bisects the sand-colored escarpments and azure blue sky like a livid metallic slash, while the Golden State’s sharp mid-morning sunshine accentuates the Q60’s all-new, athletic musculature.
Lower and slightly wider than its predecessors, it sits with a youthful, purposeful stance that hints at the car’s performance, while the new-look front end, with its larger, sportier grille and forward slanting headlight arrangement, exudes a more menacing expression than that of the G37. It’s more shark than happy guppy.
The interior, too, feels sporty and luxurious, with a tactility that belies the Q60’s price tag. Its cabin is bright and spacious, while the cosseting, fully adjustable leather seats are capable of carrying you on long drives without making you feel as though your legs have been amputated at the buttocks. After punishing his undercarriage defending the frozen north of Westeros on horseback, I’m pretty sure that’s why Kit Harrington looks so happy in the TV commercials. He’s probably wondering if Infiniti’s “spinal support” cushioning can be retrofitted to the Iron Throne.
A literal highlight, though, is the trim. Unlike so many cars in its class that clad the dash with dark carbon-fiber pieces or piano-black wood, Infiniti has chosen to weave shimmering optic-fiber into every hard surface of the Q60. It’s an aesthetic masterstroke that gives the cabin a clean and elegant finish.
The car has five main drive modes: Eco, Snow, Standard, Sport, and Sport+. Additionally there is a Personal mode, which allows the driver to adjust the minutiae of the Q60’s myriad features, from steering to suspension, with hundreds of possible customization permutations.
The brand-new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 twin-turbo came to life with a press of the start/stop button. For a car with such visual presence, disappointingly, there was little fuss; there were no histrionics from the exhaust, and the entire initial experience was quite muted. In Standard mode, I pulled out onto Old Julian Highway and started the hour-and-a-half-long route skirting Palomar Mountain. Serving up some lovely twisty roads, gentle inclines and drops, and some wide, empty straights, it was a perfect test of the Q60’s sporty credentials.
The first real stab of the throttle made it obvious the Q60 is happy to play, with the twin-turbo showing no sign of lag and the drivetrain delivering power immediately. The engine growled a subtle tone of approval, but nothing that got my blood pumping.
There is little difference between the Standard and Sport modes, but there is a marked shift in the car’s attitude between Sport and Sport+. With the latter activated, the Q60 sprang to life. The steering became much sharper, and the response from the accelerator was considerably more bellicose. Planting my foot into the carpet at 60 mph, it delivered an immediate and rowdy burst of speed, accompanied by a satisfying bark from the engine. In a matter of 200 feet, I was already into triple figures, proving the Q60 certainly has hooligan chops to back up its athletic physique.
This car is equipped with Infiniti’s second-generation, software-controlled direct adaptive steering and “steer-by-wire” systems that first appeared on the 2015 Q50 four-door, as well as an all-new dynamic digital suspension setup. Automotive journalists are often immediately suspicious of software-controlled steering, but if I didn’t know it was there, I would have been none the wiser. The car was sharply responsive and the steering had decent heft, giving me the impression of feedback from the wheels but, thanks to the electronic disconnect, not the vibrations from the road.
So, with 400 horsepower, oodles of low-end torque — 350 lb-ft from just 1,600 rpm — and that impressive throttle response at my beck and call, I felt confident swinging the Q60 into corners and attacking bumpy straightaways with speedy abandon. The car responded superbly, with enough body roll to keep the adrenaline levels up, but with no hint of mischief from the rear-wheel drive—the car stayed firmly planted to every line I pointed it at. Under the duress of some spirited driving, the Q60 remained adroit and unflappable.
All of this was assisted by the Q60’s seven-speed automatic transmission that has been engineered with Adaptive Shift Control, which uses a lateral acceleration sensor to detect hills or corners and enhance gearshift patterns accordingly. Under hard driving in Sport+, I could feel the car holding onto the gears longer, enabling me to tap into as much of the engine’s power that the speed limits would allow.
At times, however, I felt the ever-present driving aids become a little intrusive. While I appreciate that they are there to work in the driver’s favor, I found myself admonished constantly for my slightly vigorous driving style.
For instance, when attacking tight bends in an aggressive manner, I was scolded by a multitude of pings, beeps and vibrations as the car fought to takeover. There were lane-departure warnings as I inevitably scuffed the yellow divider, while the steering wheel would shake in my hands as if trying to adjust my line, and the car would apply the brakes as I tried to apply speed on the exit. It was like being read the riot act by your mom, but in the middle of an EDM party.
However, in defense of what on the entertaining Route 79 seemed like unnecessary nannying, all of this electronic wizardry really came to the fore when negotiating the busy lanes of Highway 15. The Blind-Spot Intervention, for example, was a revelation. A small light embedded in the A-pillars illuminates when a vehicle is traveling in your blind-spot and flashes with increasing urgency should you, or said vehicle, start moving closer together. It made negotiating Southern California’s congested freeways a far less stressful experience than usual.
Even short highway stretches were far less mentally exhausting thanks to the latest generation of Infiniti’s Intelligent Cruise Control, which maintained speed and kept the car in its lane with a series of minute steering adjustments. There’s Predictive Forward Collision, too, which can see at least two cars in front and will actively brake and accelerate as it assesses the road ahead. It put itself to good use once or twice as cars, as they are wont to do here, swept in front of me without indicating their intentions and then immediately dropped their anchors. The Q60’s electronic instincts beat my reactions to the punch almost every time.
Fortunately, you can toggle the level of the car’s omniscience via a steering-wheel button, which is perfect for when you pull off the highway and face miles of twisty country roads.
At drive’s end, I alighted from the Q60 with a sense of immense satisfaction. If I was in the market for a sporty two-door to help me commute mindlessly to and from work, while offering a little something extra for weekend road trips, then the Infiniti makes a compelling argument against, say, an equivalent BMW 4 series. With a starting price of $52,205, there’s certainly a lot more bang for your buck than if the same luxury options — leather interior, premium trim, 19-inch wheels, and the plethora of matching technological upgrades — were applied to the BMW. And with the money I’d save, I would have something to put toward the inevitable speeding fines I’d accrue testing my driving skills against the car’s CPU on those jaunty country drives.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 Specifications
|Engine:||3.0L DOHC twin-turbo 24-valve V-6/400 hp @ 6,400 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 1,600-5,200 rpm|
|Layout:||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA Mileage:||19/26 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H:||184.4 x 72.8 x 54.5 in|
|0-60 MPH:||4.8 sec (est)|
|Top Speed:||155 mph|