2020 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 review: When beauty isn't enough
Looks can only get you so far. The 2020 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is the car version of that adage: Its stunningly gorgeous exterior is writing checks its performance and technology just can't cash.
The Infiniti Q60 is a four-seat sport coupe available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. All trims (Pure, Luxe and Red Sport 400) get a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine, but the lower trims push out just 300 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. They're respectable numbers for sure, but my Red Sport 400 tester packs all-wheel drive and -- you guessed it -- 400 hp, plus 350 lb-ft.
It's a few years old now, but the Q60 is still a looker. Curvy and sculptural, it turns heads wherever it goes. LED headlights give the Q60 a distinct light signature and I love the unique kink in the C-pillar. My Red Sport 400 gets 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels that are tucked up next to the fenders, making for a tight silhouette. I think it's one of the best-looking cars on the road today.
My first hint that the Q60 might not be more than a pretty face comes during my commute home from downtown San Francisco. I'm just toddling along in the Standard drive mode at a middling pace of 25 to 45 mph. For whatever reason, this seven-speed automatic transmission just can't handle it, constantly upshifting and downshifting like an undecided child confronted with 31 different ice cream flavors.
Things get better on back roads, but only marginally so. Here, I switch between the Sport and Sport Plus modes for better handling and a more aggressive shift pattern. The handling part is great, but it's completely overshadowed by unpredictable transmission mapping. Sometimes the Q60 downshifts on braking, but other times it waits until my right foot asks for the power. The transmission often upshifts at the wrong moment, especially when I'm just biding my time to get around a turn -- I can't be on the gas all the time, Infiniti . Sometimes I need a little patience through a turn, but all this upshifting is just trying my patience.
Thankfully, the Red Sport 400 has paddle shifters so you can move through the gears on your own terms. While the transmission still doesn't shift as quickly as I would like when using the paddles, this is far more engaging. There's plenty of robust engine noise coming into the cabin, as well -- enough that I turn down the radio and just revel in the racket.
The steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system is absent from my tester, for which I am grateful. I've experienced DAS on other models and it leaves me feeling disconnected from both the car and the road. The regular electric power steering setup is nothing to write home about, either, but there's a nice heft to it, and it offers a bit more feedback than the fancy-pants stuff.
Standard driver-assistance features on the Red Sport 400 are a bit light, consisting of forward collision warning, emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot monitoring and backup-collision intervention. More advanced features, including full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind-spot intervention and lane-keeping assist, are part of the $2,850 ProAssist Package, which unfortunately includes the aforementioned steer-by-wire "upgrade."
On the tech side, the good news is that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, as is a Wi-Fi hotspot -- at least on this Red Sport 400 trim. The Infiniti InTouch infotainment system uses two screens: An 8-inch upper screen displays only your smartphone interface or, if not connected, the navigation map. The lower screen is an inch smaller and takes care of other functions. I like the two-screen setup here, as it's nice not having to toggle back and forth between Apple CarPlay and the native system, but Infiniti's embedded tech is clunky and definitely showing its age. An upgrade is needed tout suite.
In-car charging duties are given to one USB Type-A and one Type-C in the center console, while 12-volt outlets live in the dash and the center console. Wireless charging is not available and back seat passengers are left wanting for juice -- not that anyone will want to ride back there. Despite there being two cup holders for rear seat passengers, seating is pretty cramped thanks to a sloping roof line. Heck, my hair brushes the roof in the front, too.
Cargo space is similarly sparse. The trunk has a tiny 9 cubic feet -- more than a Miata, sure, but far less than the 15.7 cubes in the BMW 4 Series . Heck, even the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and Lexus RC have more. Interior storage is just as stingy, with only a small cubby in the center stack big enough for your keys that's directly behind the gearshift and not very accessible. There is a tiny bit of storage in the door pockets, too, but just about every pocket in this car is on the small side. The interior materials and fit and finish are all great. However, the overall interior design is pretty dated, despite the addition of carbon fiber trim and contrasting stitching throughout.
Still, the Infiniti Q60 is a handsome car and one that strikes a serious pose out on the road. My money would be on the middle Luxe trim, as it starts nearly $12,000 lower than the Red Sport 400, and I can't justify paying nearly $120 per extra horsepower. I'm also sticking with rear-wheel drive since I live in California and don't have to deal with snowy weather. I would add the Edition 30 package, commemorating 30 years of Infiniti sales in the US, to get a few appearance upgrades as well as full-speed adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, heated seats and steering wheel, parking sensors and a Wi-Fi hotspot. That brings my total price up to $50,725 including destination, far below the $65,950 price of my Red Sport 400 AWD tester.
If you get really nitpicky about the competition, there aren't that many luxury two-door sport coupes around these days. The BMW 4 Series and Audi S5 both have more technology, better cabins and offer superb driving dynamics. As a bonus, both are available as convertibles. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class can be AMG-ified with up to 503 horsepower, though it gets mighty pricey up there. If you're willing to add two more doors the options open up in a big way, with the Audi S5 Sportback being an excellent example.
It's a shame the 2020 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 doesn't perform at the same level as its looks. But at least it'll still turn heads.