Car Reviews First Drives

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 First Drive

Powerful and Stylish: Check. Sporty?

Powerful and Stylish: Check. Sporty?

Although the Infiniti G37 coupe and convertible received only mild revisions when it was rebadged as the Infiniti Q60 for the 2014 and 2015 model years, the premium automaker’s only two-door coupe gets a thorough redesign for 2017. In addition to exclusive styling, the update includes new mechanical bits — some of which are also found on the redesigned 2016 Infiniti Q60 sedan with which it shares its chassis and 112.2-inch wheelbase. Infiniti invited us down to San Diego from Los Angeles for some driving impressions of the top-spec 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 coupe.

While the previous model was powered by Nissan’s venerable naturally aspirated 3.7-liter VQ V-6, rated 325 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, the new 2017 Infiniti Q60 coupe is offered with a choice of powertrains and power ratings. The base engine is a new Mercedes-Benz-sourced 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 rated 208 hp and 258 lb-ft. Nissan’s new twin-turbo 3.0-liter VR V-6 is offered in two power ratings: 300 hp and 295 lb-ft or 400 hp and 350 lb-ft. All engines are backed by a seven-speed automatic. Rear-drive is standard and all-wheel-drive is optional.

All Red Sport 400 models feature the top-spec 400-hp version of the new VR engine. We were able to sample two variants: the first with the optional all-wheel-drive system and the second in rear-drive spec.

While a conventional hydraulic/mechanical steering system is standard, both cars we drove featured the optional second-generation “drive-by-wire” Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) and Rack Electronic Power Steering (EPS) systems. (The not-particularly well-received first-generation DAS was used in the 2014-2015 Infiniti Q50.) The same system was present on our 2016 Infiniti Q50 sedan tester. Infiniti claims the DAS can make “up to 1,000 steering adjustments per second.” Other claimed benefits include instant steering feedback, gradual increase of effort based on speed and lateral G, and less driver fatigue due to a need for fewer human corrections than with conventional steering systems.

Both cars also featured the available Dynamic Digital Suspension (DDS), which monitors body roll, pitch, and bounce rate. The electronically adjustable dampers feature Sport and Standard settings. The Q60 has four drivetrain modes (Sport, Standard, Eco, Snow), seven DAS settings (Standard Default, Sport Default, Sport Dynamic, Sport Dynamic+, Sport+ Default, Sport+ Dynamic, Sport+ Dynamic+), two EPS settings (Sport, Standard), two DDS settings (Sport, Standard), three Active Lane Control settings (Off, Low, High), and two Active Trace Control settings (Off, On). Infiniti says there are a total of 336 possible combinations.

While we didn’t have time to test every combination, we did test several different settings. The all-wheel-drive model rides on 19×9.0-inch alloy wheels wrapped in all-season run-flat tires.

Our drive started with the Drive Mode Selector in Sport+ (drivetrain in Sport, steering in Sport+ Dynamic+, EPS in Sport, and suspension in Sport) and Active Lane Control and Active Trace Control systems turned on.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 front three quarters 02

In Sport mode, the engine pulls strongly with minimal boost lag off the line and the transmission is quick to downshift, though in manual mode there is more of a delay when using the steering wheel paddle shifters than with the center console shifter. The suspension rides smoothly and handles well in Sport mode, while the Standard suspension setting felt slightly floaty at speed.

The steering felt light off center, but artificially ramped up too quickly and too heavily. We tried nearly all of the steering settings and finally settled on the Standard Default setting for its more natural feel that ramped up linearly. The all-wheel-drive car turned in well and despite its all-season run-flat tires was able to tackle the curved part of our route at double the suggested speeds. There was a strange vibration in the steering wheel in some of the tighter corners that was cured by turning off the Active Trace Control. Apparently, the system was more concerned with us staying centered in the lane than hitting the apexes.

Next, we hopped in the rear-drive Q60. With the drivetrain in Sport mode, the rear-drive car felt more responsive than the all-wheel-drive. As expected, the rear-drive car also felt much lighter on the front end. Although equipped with staggered wheels (19×9.-inch front, 19×9/5-inch rear) and summer tires, the rear-drive car didn’t feel faster through the corners. It was, however, more fun to toss around with the tires squealing at the edge of adhesion.

After finding a relatively secluded spot along the route, we did a few flat-out acceleration runs with the drivetrain in Sport and Eco modes. In Sport mode, the 400-hp Q60 Red Sport 400 pulls hard all the way through the rev range and into ultra-legal speeds where the car remained stable as it traveled through slight curves at triple-digit speeds for several minutes. It exhibited only mild boost lag off the line. In Eco mode, the Q60 accelerates at a leisurely pace as if it never overcame the boost lag. Eco mode was also more resistant to downshifts when requesting passing power suggesting its best reserved for Los Angeles rush hour(s) when traffic is barely moving.

Despite its revised DAS, the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 coupe’s strength lies in its boosted engine. While we have yet to strap our testing equipment to the new Q60, a mechanically similar 2016 Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400 sedan accelerated to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 13.0 at 109.2 mph (175.7 km/h). We expect similar numbers from the coupe. Although we didn’t get a chance to sample the lone Q60 with the standard steering system, we have driven the Q50 sedan with both steering systems.

We would probably save the $1,000 USD for the DAS and stick with the conventional steering system. The DAS is required, however, for the Technology Package (auto leveling Adaptive Front Lighting System, Intelligent Cruise Control with Full Speed Range, Eco pedal, front pre-crash seatbelts, High Beam Assist, Distance Control Assist, Advanced Climate Control System, Blind Spot Intervention, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Departure Prevention with Active Lane Control).

Although it shares much of its non-visible bits with the Q50 sedan, the Q60 coupe features more aggressive styling heavily influenced by the Infiniti Q60 concept from the 2015 Detroit auto show, which was inspired by the Q80 Inspiration concept. Up front, the Q60 coupe features the bold “double-arch” grille flanked by “human eye” headlights, while the C-pillar maintains a kicked up “crescent-cut” quarter-window design.

Inside, the Q60’s dashboard, center stack and center console are nicely laid out with switchgear easy to find and use. Both cars we drove featured the available Silver Optic Fiber trim on the doors and center console. While the silver-hued carbon fiber material looked nice against the Gallery White semi-aniline leather Interior, we thought the high-gloss finish didn’t feel as authentic as it would with a textured finish. The double infotainment screen is impressive.

The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 coupe is a nice vehicle, but we still wonder if the brand has an established its identity. A few women who saw the Q60 made positive comments about its styling, but didn’t know about the brand. One woman owned a Mercedes and the other a Lexus.

We look forward to getting an Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 in for proper testing and maybe a comparison against other midsize premium coupes.