First Drive: 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
My emotional experience with the 2017 Infiniti Q60 actually began seven days before I drove it for the first time. A week before I got to experience this 400-horsepower grand tourer, I saw it (albeit a lower-specced 300-horsepower version) on the road for the first time.
In my peering through West L.A. traffic, it was as though my eyes knew this car was attractive before my brain did, but once the visual data hit my brain, two words came to mind: “Hell yeah!”
In photos, this is a nice-looking car. In person, you want to figure out ways to carry out mechanophilia. With the knowledge I’d be driving this coupe at its global press launch a week later, I felt like I had just finalized date plans with a really attractive woman.
And then date night came, and I laid eyes upon her — the Q60 Red Sport 400, that is, sitting in front of San Diego’s beautiful and luxurious Rancho Valencia resort and spa. In her Dynamic Sunstone Red dress, this lady is unquestionably sultry. Couple her looks with where she stood, and the visuals became poetic: a grand-touring getaway car in front of a weekend getaway. The poetry gave me an itch to drive, but I had to be patient and wait until the next morning. In the meantime I’d take photos. The Q60’s design makes you want to snap close-up beauty shots, which you’ll see a lot of in the gallery’s first 13 images at the bottom.
But for me, the most striking element of the Q60 is its posterior. If you line up against this car, and its 400 twin-turbocharged horses beat you between the traffic signals, at least it will have the common decency to leave you behind with a shot of its beautiful behind.
When you’re the one unleashing all that power, though, it’s somewhat of a non-event. Don’t get me wrong: it feels like you’ve got 400 horsepower under your right foot, but the Q60 delivers it rather undramatically. The car goes about its acceleration effortlessly. Dial some lock into the steering, however, and the sport coupe’s rear end will mimic Minaj. To every teenager dreaming of owning this car someday, I can tell you that, indeed, the powerslides are as fun as you can imagine. The Q60, like its four-door sibling, the Q50, is snappy on power oversteer, but controllable.
It’s not a hooligan’s car, however. The suspension is tuned for comfort, and even when the Dynamic Digital Suspension is dialed up to its most aggressive setting, this car lacks the damping aggression sporty drivers crave.
You notice this most when you’re bringing the car down from high speeds with a smooth application of medium braking. As it sits, the Q60 Red Sport 400 carries 57 percent of its weight over the front axle, but under moderate braking when weight shifts forward, the rear end gets light, begins to sway, and you have to dial in a fair amount of correction in the steering. This handling characteristic won’t present itself for most American drivers, but if you’re hustling this car down the Autobahn, and some diesel Dacia Sandero pulls into the left lane, be prepared for some rear-end sway.
You may be thinking, “That seems dangerous.” It’s not. While it is an undesirable handling characteristic, it’s still controllable, and doesn’t ruin the overall experience of the Q60, which, I’ll add, is very stable when it really counts: panic braking from highway speeds.
I presume the sway under moderate braking is more of a software issue than a suspension hardware issue. Perhaps all it would take is for engineers to program the shocks to firm more aggressively under braking in order to steady the sway.
On all other accounts, though, this car shines. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine, 7-speed automatic transmission, handling dynamics (other than the aforementioned stability issue), and ride comfort are all great. Its interior is as comfortable and quiet as it is beautiful, too, and that’s good for giving the 13-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system a blank canvas for painting the cabin with its musical colors.
Still, the best thing about this car is its exterior design. Early adopters be forewarned. You will be stalked by fellow motorists wanting to learn more about your beautiful coupe. When I saw the new Q60 driving in West L.A. traffic a week before I got to experience it, I’ll admit, I’m guilty of chasing down the car in order to get a better look, and to give the driver a hearty thumbs up.
I think all luxury automakers need an NSX or R8 of their own to build brand prestige and excitement, but until Infiniti gets there, this will do a great job of getting people into dealerships. With the recent redesign of the Audi A5/S5 falling short, once that hits U.S. dealerships in the 2018 model year, this will be the best-looking coupe in its class. People will be intrigued when they see the Q60 in commercials, and then they’ll see one in person, fall in love and then book a test drive. Once they drive the car, they will be delighted, and as long as there are no autobahn blasts, they are going to sign on the dotted line.
That signature will make the bank account $51,300 lighter for the rear-wheel drive Q60 Red Sport 400, and $53,300 lighter for the all-wheel drive model. The all-wheel-drive-only Audi S5’s base price undercuts the base Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD by $200. Tick almost all the option boxes on a rear-wheel drive Q60 and you’re playing in the $61,000 ballpark. That’s about the same as a fully loaded S5. Select almost all the options on a BMW 440i and you’re looking at spending another four grand, but if you’ve gone that far, you might as well consider looking at the M4, which carries a $66,200 base price. Also consider its rival, the Cadillac ATS-V Coupe starts at $62,895.
Running the dollar figures, we can see the sport coupe segment is very competitive, even somewhat with the super-sport coupe segment. With a battlefield like this, it comes down to what your priorities are.
If those priorities are style and comfort with a reasonable amount of sport, then the Q60 Red Sport 400 is the car for you.
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