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Hammering the throttle in the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport takes some getting used to. This rear-wheel-drive coupe's 400-horsepower output requires feeling out, but the bigger thing throwing me off is the coupe's exhaust note at wide-open throttle as I tackle the entertaining roads outside of San Diego. Instead of the higher-pitch growl I've become accustomed to in the Q60's predecessors, this new car is subtler and not quite as aurally menacing with its twin-turbo VR V6 engine churning away under the hood.
The new VR replaces Infiniti's long-serving VQ V6 that powered the previous G35 and G37 coupes, most recently as a 3.7-liter unit. With the VR, Nissan's premium brand has downsized engine displacement to 3.0 liters and slapped on twin turbochargers to help spit out 400 ponies on 14.5 pounds of boost. There's also a meaty torque band, with 350 pound-feet of twist available from 1,600 to 5,200 rpm. As for the green dividends of the smaller engine with forced induction, the Red Sport returns 20 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway -- not brilliant, but not too shabby considering the muscle.
There's no complaint about power with nearly turbo-lag-free thrust easily getting the coupe up to speed from a standstill and out of corners, while four-piston front and two-piston rear Akebono brakes whoa things down to lawful speeds in a quick and confident manner. Power gets to the ground via Infiniti's in-house-developed seven-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox features a welcome manual shift mode, though there's a slight lag in responding to commands. For the majority of my drive, I leave the transmission in full auto with the Q60's drive mode selector into Sport+ for quick upshifts and well-timed downshifts.
In addition to altering gear-change behavior, Sport+ mode firms up the Red Sport's adaptive suspension to better attack open winding roads. Riding on staggered 19-inch Bridgestone Potenza RE050A performance rubber, the Q60 tracks around corners with composure and grip on par with the BMW 4 Series, which remains the handling benchmark in this luxury sport coupe segment. However, the Infiniti tramples the Bimmer in ride comfort. Even in Sport+, the Q60 rides surprisingly well, and becomes even more compliant when the suspension is in standard mode.
Sport+ is also my choice for my test car's Direct Adaptive Steering system. My first encounter with the Infiniti's steer-by-wire system was on the Q50 sedan, and it wasn't very good. It lacked feel and feedback, but the second-generation system available on the Q60 claims to fix those shortcomings. After spending a day with the revised setup going through its various settings, it's much better, but it's still a bit disconnected and artificial-feeling when working the wheel hard through twisties. A brief drive of a Q60 with the standard electric rack power steering system proves the base system is much better, and a good way to save $1,000.
When things inevitably slow down, and you aren't on clear and smooth winding roads in southern California, the Q60 can simmer down into a tame, comfortable sports coupe. In addition to the helpful suspension, the cabin is a really nice place to spend time, with excellent front seats that are generously bolstered to keep you from flying around during spirited driving, and still cushy enough for daily driving and slogs through traffic. The materials throughout are of high quality, with nice leathers and heaps of soft-touch surfaces, and it stays quiet inside thanks to an active noise cancellation system.
For audiophiles, a 13-speaker Bose sound system belts out clear and crisp tunes that you control through the Infiniti InTouch infotainment interface, that was also first seen on the Q50, consisting of dual center touchscreens. The Q60's InTouch system is upgraded with a more powerful processor, which is evident in how quickly it pages through the various navigation, audio, climate and car setting menus. On my drive, the system did hiccup a couple of times and not respond to inputs, requiring additional screen taps.
Beyond being a bit troublesome to get used to the dual-screen logic, another strike against InTouch is that it's currently not capable of running Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Infiniti says they are both are in development, but wouldn't give a timeframe on when they'll appear in the Q60.
On the safety front, the Q60 offers the typical array of available tech safety nets found in today's luxury vehicles, including a 360-degree Around View Monitor camera system, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and automatic forward emergency braking. Most interesting is an available Predictive Forward Collision Warning system that uses radar to not only sense sudden braking from the vehicle directly ahead, but also unexpected deceleration from the vehicle ahead of that one. The system bounces radar underneath the vehicle the driver is following to "see" what's happening further up the road, all in hopes of providing ample warning and avoiding a potential crash.
While the Q60's available power, tight handling and pleasant road manners are high points for the new coupe, the exterior design is its shining aspect. It's gorgeous, with an aggressive front end featuring a large version of Infiniti's trademark double-arch grille, a piece that's not overdone and cartoonish like the Predator-inspired mug on the Lexus RC.
From the side, the Q60's sculpted character lines stamped into the sheetmetal along with the crescent-cut C-pillar give the Q60 a nice visual punch, particularly on my test car's Dynamic Sunstone Red hue. Infiniti strikes a great design balance with the third-generation Q60, giving it just enough attitude while still remaining elegant and mature. So if you're someone who finds the 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, Audi A5 and Cadillac ATS coupe to be either overwhelming or underwhelming, Infiniti has an elegant solution that doesn't look it was designed by a third grader.
There are a few things the new Q60 won't be able to provide, however. For hardcore drivers out there, I'm sorry to say that a manual transmission isn't in the cards. I've also got bad news for top-down motoring fans, too. A convertible isn't coming anytime soon. If you want one of those features in the Q60, feel free to start an online petition demanding one or both of those from Infiniti now.
That's not to say that there isn't good variety already in Infiniti's new Q60 lineup. Below the $53,300 Red Sport model sits a milder $44,300 Silver Sport trim with a 300-hp version of the twin-turbo V6 and passive suspension. Similar to its rivals, the base level Q60 packs a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with Infiniti's unit making 208 horsepower and starting at $38,950. Infiniti also offers all-wheel drive on all trim levels for an additional $2,000.
As for my Q60 wish list, I will say a manual gearbox would be welcome to up driver engagement a notch or two. I know the majority of the market doesn't want three pedals, so I'm willing to compromise and settle for a good dual-clutch transmission. The lineup also looks ripe for an even hotter model above the Red Sport, replete with more power and sharper handling to do battle with coupes such as the Cadillac ATS-V, Mercedes-AMG C63, BMW M4 and Lexus RC F, too.
Oh, and an exhaust note with more growl would be great, too. You know, for old time's sake.