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Car reviews - Infiniti - Q60 - Red Sport

Our Opinion

We like
Sexy styling, sporty seats and driving position, seductive twin-turbo V6, superb Sport+ stability control calibration
Room for improvement
Cramped like BMW 2 Series not 4 Series, sub-par infotainment ergonomics, very firm ride, too expensive

Infiniti logo18 Apr 2017

By DANIEL DEGASPERI

LATE last year the Infiniti Q60 proved to be one of the biggest disappointments of the calendar, with a Mercedes-sourced 2.0-litre turbo thrashing it out in an entry coupe with a hefty kerb weight, harsh single-setting suspension and loose steering.

The $88,900 Q60 Red Sport, however, is almost a different car on paper. It is not just a matter of swapping engines and addressing performance, although a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 helps. Now, a two-mode adaptive chassis and six-mode fully electric steering system also slip into the top coupe.

Also, unlike the 2.0-litre, the 3.0-litre gets a no-cost pick of white, red or black trim inside, with high-quality Nappa leather on the seats and real carbon-fibre trim flanking the centre stack.

Particularly in Dynamic Sunstone Red also unique to the Red Sport – and forming the single option on the car, as part of the $1500 metallic paint list – it simply looks and feels more premium than the cheaper versions, a case of minor changes making up a greater whole.

At least that is the case when seated in the lushly supportive and low-slung front seats that endow the Infiniti with a genuine, two-door sportscar feel, rather than simply feeling like a two-door version of a sedan, as with most rivals such as the BMW 4 Series.

Incredibly, at 4685mm long and with a 2850mm wheelbase, the Q60 Red Sport’s respective dimensions stretch 47mm and 40mm further than a $99,855 440i. We say this because the Infiniti is incredibly cramped inside, with rear legroom and headroom virtually absent for anyone 160cm-tall or loftier. Even the 341-litre boot is 104L – or a quarter – down on the proper-four-seat BMW’s.

There are no air vents for back passengers, despite them being provided in all rivals, while the rear backrest only folds down as a single piece.

All such issues are inherent to every Q60, independent of engine, suspension and steering.

Likewise, the immaculate build quality and high standard equipment list of this Red Sport continues to be let down by Infiniti’s colour trip computer screen and twin centre screens – 8.0-inch upper and 7.0-inch lower. Also incredibly, each of the three screens is of a different resolution – low-res upper and high-res lower – and they appear mismatched with different fonts and duplicate menus.

Yet some features are missed completely. Changing audio tracks, for example, cannot be done from the steering wheel, while a digital speedometer and head-up display are both conspicuous by their absence. At least the Bose audio system is a good one, though a half-the-price Holden Commodore SS has a similar system, with superior infotainment, better ergonomics and a head-up display.

Thankfully, unlike with the base Q60, things improve substantially for the flagship model on-road.

With 475Nm of torque from just 1600rpm and holding strong all the way to 5200rpm, just before 298kW of power arrives at 6400rpm, the engine is a masterpiece. It has a silken personality, surging (yet linear) delivery, and terrific throttle response.

Only in a sportscar context, though, the exhaust note is too subtle even in Sport+. In that top mode – specific to Q60 Red Sport – the automatic transmission could also become sharper, although response is decisive and immediate when using the standard paddle-shifters in manual mode.

There are several mix-and-match settings for the steering, but again, only Sport+ is really needed. It delivers meaty, consistent weight and a tight immediacy that mostly banishes bad memories of Infiniti’s ‘version 1.0’ mechanical-link-less, fully electric Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) system. The modes are needless overkill, but what the steering can now deliver is just fine.

Fewer modes, only Comfort and Sport, shift the adaptive suspension between something in the order of Very Firm to Overly Abrupt. Teamed with low-profile 19-inch tyres, there is also plenty of road roar to go along with the jostling – though never harsh – ride.

On the upside, what this all points to is an Infiniti that has a genuine and distinct character, with the Red Sport proving red-hot-agile and engaging.

It may be bigger than a 4 Series, but that sure suspension, sharp steering and surplus grip endows it with a racier, less refined feel through corners, matched by the snug seats and superb driving position.

The Sport+ mode also delivers a fabulous electronic stability control (ESC) tune, which helps this Q60 feel like a rear-driven slingshot out of corners – no inappropriate oversteer, but with enough rear squiggle permitted to know what wheels are driven while always feeling fluent.

Somehow, the 440i just feels a bit ‘GT all-rounder’ in the face of this energetic, tied-down two-door, while the all-things-are-equal traction of an all-wheel drive C43 seems boring by comparison.

What coupe rivals also seem like is more polished, and with panache that extends to space, infotainment and technology. The Mercedes-AMG can even steer itself within its lane for seconds at a time. The Infiniti equivalent, Active Lane Control, wandered clumsily over the centre line.

Sexy, compact and rewarding to drive, there is absolutely a place for the Q60 Red Sport on a sportscar buyer’s shopping list. But it makes a more convincing case as a more compact BMW M240i rival than one for a loping, luxurious 440i.

The former costs about $75,000 – and that feels about right for this Infiniti, too, which now proves convincing on-paper and on-road, if not inside.

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