Infiniti's switch to the Q/QX naming convention was a rough one, but we got used to it and most of us have gotten over it by now. I went from loudly lamenting the loss of the familiar G37 to just accepting the Q60. Hey, it's just a name, right? Although, that I start this and all other conversations about the new Q cars with a "remember the G37?" is proof that I'm sort of still complaining, only more subtly.
Helping to transition through this crisis of identity are Infiniti's designers and engineers who have sculpted some of the best looking sport coupes and sedans on the road today. Take, for example, the 2017 Infiniti Q60S Red Sport 400. It's a gorgeous ride with amazing performance to back up the curvaceous and aggressive curb appeal.
It's a stunner and a thriller, but the 2017 Infiniti is plagued with many small niggles and annoyances that just kept me from ever truly getting used to living with it... and I'm not just talking about the name.
400-horsepower, twin-turbo V6
The Q60 is Infiniti's premium sports coupe and the Q60S is the higher performance variant. However, the Q60S Red Sport 400 that rolled into our garage is a new, even higher-performance variation for this generation.
It builds on the performance upgrades of the Q60S, adding more aggressive styling inspired by the automaker's Eau Rouge concept and filling the wheel arches with large 19-inch wheels. Red-painted sport brakes that are also larger than the standard Q60's peek through the spokes and dual exhaust tips shine from beneath the tidy rear end. Red accented front fender badges proudly showing everyone what you're working with.
That S3.0t badge alludes to the new VR-series turbocharged V6. The VR30DDTT, to be specific, is a twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter beast that transforms 14.7 psi of boost into 350 pound-feet of torque and 400 horsepower.
The new engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters that sends power to the rear wheels like the performance gods intended. For areas with more rain than shine, there is available a $2,000 all-wheel drive option that also switches from a staggered (with wider rear drive wheels) to a square setup in which all four wheels and tires are the same size.
Both configs feature multiple Drive modes that allow the pilot to fine-tune the coupe's performance. There's the baseline Standard mode, progressively more aggressive Sport and Sport+ settings, a more fuel efficient Eco mode and a low-traction Snow mode. A final Personal profile lets the driver mix and match modes for the steering, engine and suspension.
Digital Dynamic Suspension
The Q60S is no featherweight, even in its sporty Red Sport 400 trim. Fortunately, it packs serious handling technology in the form of the automaker's Digital Dynamic Suspension to help it hustle its heft around corners.
Three suspension settings adjust the performance of its dampers tied to the Standard, Sport and Sport+ drive modes. Even the base tune is quite sporty and firm, but the coupe doesn't ride too harshly. Still, you'll want to dodge those potholes if you don't want to be jostled around.
I'm OK with the slightly bumpy ride, but was annoyed by the amount of road noise at cruising speeds. I get that this is a sport coupe, but as a luxury sport coupe, I shouldn't have to shout to hold a conversation or crank the Bose audio system nearly to max.
The steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system boasts good responsiveness be seems to trade fingertip feel for a few miles per gallon worth of efficiency. That said, I think it feels good enough for the Q60's luxury-performance ambitions and has a decent weight in the Sport modes.
The gas pedal that pushes back
The Q60S' various drive modes include an Eco mode that adjusts the throttle response and performance to boost efficiency. This driving mode also activates one of the coupe's most annoying features: the active eco pedal.
Infiniti integrates a haptic servo feedback into the accelerator pedal to provide variable resistance to pedal pressure. Get a bit lead-footed pulling away from a traffic light and the eco pedal may resist against the pedal's travel, create a false-stopping point at half of the pedal's travel, or even push back against your foot as if to say, "lighten up."
It's a gentle push that is easy enough to overpower with my foot, but the variable resistance created a lot of inconsistency to my throttle inputs. It's easy to accidentally push back too hard when the pedal resists during a pass or merge and end up with much more throttle than intended. An inconsistent throttle with 400 nervous horsepower on the other end is a recipe for disaster, which I almost learned the hard way during my week of testing the Red Sport 400 in the rain.
The active pedal also comes into play with the forward precollision system, pushing back gently to discourage drivers from following too closely or pushing sharply just before the automatic emergency braking kicks in. For inattentive drivers, this part of the active pedal's functionality could actually be useful and possibly lifesaving, but I'm not a fan of the car resisting my inputs so actively.
Fortunately, the active pedal features are easily adjusted or disabled with onscreen menus.
Joining the aforementioned precollision system are adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, blind spot monitoring with lane change alert and an exceptional lane departure prevention with some of the most subtle steering assist that I've ever used. I barely noticed when it was active and its interventions were quite smooth.
The Q60S features the Infiniti's multi-cam, around-view system with proximity alerts, and rear cross traffic notifications when reversing. I was grateful for the sensors because rear visibility for parking isn't great and the Q60's fairly low-resolution around- and rear-view cameras became blurred by the rain when parking at night. Missing from the options list is automatic parallel park assist, which should be possible with the drive-by-wire steering. Even with that omission, the Q60 is a formidable tech car where driver aid is concerned.
One detail I loved about Infiniti's driver aid is that all of the active safety features can be toggled on and off with a single button on the steering wheel. I could quickly switch between using all of the aid and adaptive cruise on the highway or in traffic. Then, which a twitch of my thumb, disable it all so the car isn't second-guessing my every input during more active driving on fun, twisty roads.
Out of touch with InTouch
The Q60 features a cozy cabin highlighted by the Infiniti InTouch system: a serviceable, but awkwardly designed infotainment system that has too many screens and too many control schemes.
There's an upper screen that's devoted mostly to navigation. It's recessed slightly into the dashboard, has a matte finish, and is controlled via a small physical knob located far back on the center console behind the shifter. A second display sits just beneath the first with a glossy, flush-mounted touchscreen and a completely different interface with noticeably sharper graphics. The lower screen is home to the majority of the InTouch's features, menus and preferences, but there are redundancies between the two areas -- for example, both can control the audio source or hands-free calling.
With too many screens and too many control schemes, it feels like InTouch is two systems (one older and one new) Frankensteined into one, and you basically have to learn to use it twice. The learning curve isn't impossible, but it's certainly awkward.
InTouch offers a handful of app integrations, but nothing that really piqued my interest. The lack of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity prevents owners from bring their own apps on the road, which is disappointing.
One of my biggest nitpicks is a low-tech one: the Q60S uses a parking brake pedal, like a truck or small SUV. This wouldn't be so bad, but there's so little room in the coupe's footwell that this pedal sits exactly where I put my right foot when exiting the vehicle. So, I'd accidentally disengage the parking brake every time I got out, causing Q60 to resettle onto the transmission's parking lock. There was no real danger, but feeling the car roll slightly on a hill when I was halfway out was panic inducing. This is doubly annoying because there's no reason the Q60 shouldn't have an electronic parking brake at this price point.
Price and competition
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 starts at $38,950 and features 208-horsepower 2.0T four-cylinder and 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 variants. However, the Red Sport 400 starts at $51,300 for a rear-wheel driven model before adding a $905 destination charge to either. Options -- including Driver Assistance and Technology packages, upgrades to the InTouch infotainment and performance tweaking Direct Adaptive Steering -- bring our as-tested price to $60,055.
That price range and the Red Sport's 400-horsepower puts this sports coupe in an interesting position. It's competitively priced with yet a little more powerful than a BMW 440i, but still less powerful than an M4. Likewise, it slots in between the Lexus RC 350 and the RC-F, or the Cadillac ATS coupe and the ATS-V. It's got just enough extra performance to claim bragging rights over its competition, but not so much that it gets drawn into playing with the really big kids.
There are trade-offs. Though the driver-aid tech is on par with much of the competition, Infiniti's InTouch cabin tech suite just isn't very good. It's probably the only luxury infotainment system that I dislike more than Lexus Enform, and compared to Audi's dashboard, it just looks and feels half-finished. Although less powerful, much of its competition offers better brand cachet, daily driving comfort and ergonomics. That said, few of them do it while looking this good.