SAN DIEGO –The ’17 Infiniti Q60 luxury sports coupe could win a beauty contest.
Yet, it hits the market with awesome under-the-skin stuff, too. That includes a new V-6 engine with deep roots, a redone digital steering setup and an all-new electronic suspension system that rocks in mitigating the roll.
Those tech things count in a big way. Vehicles no longer can get by on good looks alone. That said, this car is a looker, especially in its signature color, Dynamic Sunstone Red on the flagship Red Sport 400. High styling and high tech can join hands as a couple.
The aim of Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand, is to get its sport coupe on both admiration and buyer lists. The Q60 heretofore hasn’t received the sales respect it deserves in a segment with some formidable competitors from Germany.
Lower and wider than previous Infiniti coupes, the Q60’s daring design is flowing and muscular. It’s angular without looking awkward. The body curvatures require special metal stamping. Kudos to the plant in Tochigi, Japan, for that and other manufacturing marvels, such as the first decklid that’s made of resin skin on a steel frame.
Other design standouts include the double-arch grille, crescent-cut C-pillars that arc forward and headlights designed to resemble the shape of the human eye. Here’s looking at you.
It’s important to point out the superb styling, not because it’s more important than the technology, because it isn’t. Rather, it is what it potentially takes to set a car apart in the luxury sports coupe segment that, despite relatively limited sales volumes, includes some all-star players.
That’s why the Q60 needs to look its best. Competitors include the Mercedes-Benz CL, Audi A5 and the hands-down segment sales leader BMW 4-Series. These are all great cars with incredible driving dynamics.
But in my self-appointed role as an automotive beauty-contest judge, I’d give the prize to the model wearing the Q60 sash. OK, I know styling is subjective, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that.
So let’s get on to the attributes that make the Q60 more than just a pretty face.
First among them is the all-new 3.0L V-6 twin-turbo engine, officially called VR30 DDTT. It is from the new VR powertrain family, and Infiniti bills it as the most advanced V-6 it ever has made, created through extensive in-house experience of 6-cyl. powertrain development.
The VQ-series V-6, predecessor to the VR, made the Wards 10 Best Engines list 14 years straight from 1995 to 2008, and returned to the list this year.
The new VR is available in the Q60 with either 400 or 300 hp and maximum torque across a relatively broad mid-range rpm band where drivers typically spend most of their time.
The Q60s available for test drives on a media program here were all 400-hp versions that also are available with optional all-wheel drive.
Different Kind of Power
The Q60 doesn’t want for power, but it is a different kind than that typically found in a U.S. muscle car or even a German sports car. In the Q60, the power comes when you want it and ask for it, but it doesn’t scream on demand. It’s definitely there though.
Peak power from the 400-hp engine arrives at 6,400 rpm and produces 350 lb.-ft. (475 Nm) torque at 1,600-5,200 rpm. Fuel economy breaks the 20 barrier: 22 mpg combined (10.7 L/100 km). That may underwhelm Prius owners, but the Q60 is not aimed at hyper-milers.
The 300-hp engine produces its peak power also at 6,400 rpm, and delivers up to 295lb.-ft. (400 Nm) torque across the same broad 1,600-5,200 rpm range.
A 4-cyl. 2.0L turbocharged engine also is available on the Q60. That Infiniti offers it in its sports coupe says something about the increased power today’s automakers can squeeze out of a 4-cyl.
Offering the smaller engine also says something about Infiniti’s desire to attract new customers who may like the Q60’s looks, but aren’t power-hungry. Years ago, Chevrolet almost did the same thing when it considered (but then backed off) putting out a Corvette model with a smaller engine than a V-8.
Powertrain features in Infiniti’s new VR engine lineup include a new direct-injection system. The high-pressure DI allows for precise control over injection timings and the amount of fuel shot into the combustion chamber, depending on throttle position and engine speed.
Back to styling for a moment, under the heading “function and form.” The Q60’s designers and engineers collaborated in the name of aerodynamic efficiency.
Certain exterior-design elements help the car achieve a low drag coefficient of 0.28.
Vents in the front fenders direct air from the engine bay. The hood is shaped to reduce drag. Models with the V-6 engine feature an Active Grill Shutter to balance engine-cooling requirements and aerodynamic efficiency. Under normal use, the shutter remains closed. It opens when greater performance is required.
The side mirrors are designed not only to accentuate the Q60’s sleek look, but also to improve airflow along the sides of the vehicle.
Infiniti’s new Dynamic Digital Suspension is engineered to monitor body roll and pitch and offer variable damping force. That results in stability while cornering, low vibration on rough roads and a soft ride on smooth pavements.
The automaker’s second-generation Direct Adaptive Steering makes driver’s input completely electronic. The steer-by-wire system uses an electronic connection (with backup mechanical steering) between components to improve steering feel, responsiveness and feedback.
Gone is steering-wheel tug, however minimal, because the steering wheel is not conventionally and mechanically linked to the wheels. Theoretically, you could put the steering wheel in the backseat, but don’t look for that repositioning anytime soon.
A criticism of the first-generation of DAS was that it almost felt like it was driving you. (In fact, Infiniti touts digital steering as a precursor to autonomous driving.) The latest version is dialed down for more of a compromise. The driver’s in control, but the system plays a supporting role.
Drivers can adjust DDS and DAS to a variety of performance levels, from normal to sports-plus.
Whichever you pick, you’re driving a car that’s heavy on power, light on its feet and goes instantly where you point it. We drove it fairly aggressively on all sorts of roads in Southern California, from winding to straightaway.
It didn’t break a sweat or get nervous while diving into one curve after another and dashing down I-15.
Infiniti began making a sports coupe in 2002, starting with the G35. The G37 came out six years later. The Q60 replaced the G37 three years ago. Sales have been soft lately, with only 3,949 units delivered in 2015, according to WardsAuto data.
Infiniti hopes the new lineup will power up sales. Prices range from $38,950 to $53,300 for the AWD Red Sport 400. Models are arriving at dealerships now.
The brand has grand plans for the U.S. and China market. It’s after buyers who appreciate beauty but look deeper than that.
'17 Infiniti Q60 Specifications
|Vehicle type||Rear-wheel-drive Sport Coupe (AWD option)|
|Engine||3.0L twin turbo direct-injected V-6 (as tested)|
|Power (SAE net)||400 hp @ 6,400 rpm|
|Torque||350 lb.-ft. (475 Nm) @ 1,600-5,200 rpm|
|Bore x stroke (mm)||86 x 86|
|Wheelbase||111.2 ins. (2,850 mm)|
|Overall length||184.6 ins. (4,690 mm)|
|Overall width||72.8 ins. (1,850 mm)|
|Overall height||54.9 ins. (1,395 mm)|
|Curb weight||3,722 lbs. (1,692 kg)|
|Price||$38,950 to $53,300|
|Fuel economy||20/27 mpg (11.8-8.7 L/100 km) city/highway|
|Competition||BMW 4-Series, Mercedes-Benz CL, Audi A5|
|Dynamic handling||Tough competitors|
|Stylish||Infiniti sales soft in this segment|
|New engine, refined power||Limited segment|