Inifiniti’s new Q60S Red Sport 400 fi­nally comes out of the shad­ows of its heavy­weight ri­vals.

Unlike its pre­de­ces­sors, In­finiti’s lat­est at­tempt at crack­ing the pre­mium sports coupé mar­ket could pose a se­ri­ous threat to es­tab­lished mod­els in the seg­ment, says wheels’ Sony Thomas

Friday - - Front Page - PHOTOS BY STE­FAN LINDEQUE

When you’re in the mar­ket for a pre­mium au­to­mo­bile, In­finiti is prob­a­bly not a badge that fea­tures in the top three. And the Ja­panese lux­ury brand has no one but it­self to blame for this state of af­fairs. Launched in 1989 as an up­mar­ket spin-off of Nis­san, the mar­que fo­cused overly at keeping the likes of Lexus and Acura at bay that it over­looked the greater pic­ture that in­cluded Ger­man heavy­weights like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. In­finiti’s ini­tial mod­els ended up be­ing noth­ing more than re­badged Nis­sans with not much ef­fort made to give it any dis­tinc­tion. How­ever, things have changed, es­pe­cially since the as­tute Carlos Ghosn took over the par­ent com­pany’s reins. A new nam­ing con­ven­tion, a very dis­tinc­tive fam­ily de­sign lan­guage and sus­tained fo­cus on im­prov­ing per­for­mance cre­den­tials have started to pay div­i­dends. Over the last few years, cus­tomers also seem to have be­gun to take note of the up­turn in qual­ity and per­for­mance in In­finiti ve­hi­cles.

The Q60 coupé, one of the lat­est in In­finiti’s new prod­uct of­fen­sive, is the per­fect em­bod­i­ment of this new di­rec­tion.

In­finiti en­tered the pre­mium sports coupé mar­ket with the G35 back in 2003, but de­spite it be­ing a de­cent at­tempt, the novice didn’t stand a chance against the 3 Se­ries coupé, which had a bru­tal stran­gle­hold on the seg­ment, for good rea­son. A few years later, the G coupé was up­graded with a big­ger 3.7-litre V6, but the 3 Se­ries had also upped its game by then with twin-turbo six-pot and even fur­ther im­proved dy­nam­ics. So this time around, In­finiti has come bet­ter pre­pared, with the top-spec Q60S Red Sport 400 now pow­ered by a 3.0-litre twin­tur­bocharged V6, he same that we loved in the Q50 Red Sport 400 saloon when we tested it early this year.

The new six-pot, dubbed the VR se­ries, re­places the old nat­u­rally as­pi­rated, 3.7-litre VQ se­ries V6. Churn­ing out 400 horse­power at 6,400rpm and 475Nm of torque at 1,750rpm, this twin-turbo mill is ter­rific, and is more pow­er­ful than the Mercedes-AMG C43, the Audi S5 and the BMW 440i. And it also stands out from the rest of the cars in the seg­ment with its markedly more flam­boy­ant lines. Once you get past the tri­fling turbo lag, the surge of power is grace­fully ef­fort­less. Although the 0-100kph

The Q60S Red Sport 400 stands out from the rest of the cars in the seg­ment with its markedly more flam­boy­ant lines

time is 5.0 sec­onds on paper, ac­cel­er­a­tion doesn’t feel as vi­cious or in­stan­ta­neous as in many of its less pow­er­ful ri­vals. But this could well be partly be­cause of the rather muted ex­haust note and the su­perb cabin in­su­la­tion. For all its power and twist, the Q60’s au­to­matic trans­mis­sion dis­ap­points slightly, as it strug­gles to keep up with the en­gine’s re­mark­able out­put, but this can be dealt with to an ex­tent by us­ing the steer­ing mounted pad­dles in Sport or Sport+ modes. The Q60S has In­finiti’s up­dated Di­rect Adap­tive Steer­ing, which de­spite not be­ing me­chan­i­cally con­nected to the front wheels, of­fers ac­cept­ably well-weighted feed­back. The re­sponse can be fur­ther altered by choos­ing Dy­namic and Dy­namic+ steer­ing modes via the in­fo­tain­ment screen.

The dou­ble-wish­bone front and a mul­ti­link rear axle sus­pen­sion and adap­tive dampers do a great job in keeping the Q60 planted and com­posed even when pushed hard. The sus­pen­sion also changes char­ac­ter ac­cord­ing to driv­ing modes, which in­clude Snow, Eco, Stan­dard, Sport and Sport+. In the sportier modes, the Q60 rides a bit firm but flick it into Stan­dard mode and it set­tles into a serene, com­fort­able ride. In fact it feels more lux­u­ri­ous than many of its ri­vals, with its par­tic­u­larly well-ap­pointed and plush cabin. It also comes equipped with a suite of driver as­sis­tance and safety tech­nolo­gies, such as For­ward Emer­gency Brak­ing with Pedes­trian De­tec­tion and Adap­tive Light­ing among oth­ers.

The Q60S Red Sport 400 is by far In­finiti’s most ef­fec­tive stab at the pre­mium sports coupé mar­ket. And it most cer­tainly de­serves to do bet­ter than it his­tor­i­cally has. If you’re a po­ten­tial buyer for a car in this seg­ment, the Q60 is well worth giv­ing a shot, es­pe­cially as prices start at a rea­son­able Dh180,000 for the range, which also has a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der vari­ant. You’ll likely be sur­prised at how well it blurs the line be­tween a nim­ble sports coupé and a grand tourer.

The new de­sign lan­guage and im­proved per­for­mance, make In­finiti’s new coupe a force to reckon with

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.