INFINITI GOES ALL COUPE ON US: NEW LOOK AND DI­REC­TION FOR PREMIUM BRAND

The Q60 is a com­pletely new model from Infiniti. Can it help push the brand in the right di­rec­tion? An­drew Evans finds out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - News - AN­DREW EVANS

WHAT’S NEW?

The Q60 is an all-new model, tak­ing the Q50 sa­loon as a base and turn­ing it into a rather pleas­ant coupe. It’s not Infiniti’s first at­tempt at a car of this type, with the com­pany bring­ing the G37 to our shores as it launched as a UK brand – but the chances are, you’ll al­most never have seen one. The com­pany hopes the Q60 will be some­what more vis­i­ble.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

The car it­self is a pretty hand­some af­fair. There’s more than a hint of the Mercedes-benz C- Class Coupe from some an­gles, but by and large it sticks to the con­cept car forms that Infiniti has been bring­ing to mo­tor shows for the past few years.

How­ever, the brand has some- thing of an im­age prob­lem over­all. It sells in such small vol­umes that there’s al­most no brand aware­ness (de­spite spon­sor­ing the Red Bull F1 team in re­cent years), and those who are fa­mil­iar with it know it as a premium arm of the Nis­san brand. It’s cer­tainly not the first name on the lips of BMW, Audi and Mercedes buy­ers, that Infiniti would class as ri­vals.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

Ul­ti­mately this is a two-door coupe. It may be based on a rea­son­ably large ve­hi­cle, but when the rear doors go and the roofline plunges, you lose a lot of space in the back. There are seats there, but they are a to­ken af­fair (as is com­mon with cars of this type) suitable for very young chil­dren – only the huge doors and fold­ing seat­backs means ac­cess­ing them with young chil­dren is a chal­lenge.

You might be happy if you do get your kids in the back though, as when it comes to safety, Infiniti has got it sorted. Tech­nol­ogy such as for­ward emer­gency brak­ing, for­ward col­li­sion warn­ing, lane de­par­ture and a speed lim­iter are stan­dard across the range, while there’s a tech pack that adds adap­tive cruise, adap­tive lights, rear col­li­sion pre­ven­tion and so on. At times, with all of the as­sists turned on, it’s al­most like be­ing in an au­ton­o­mous car – and it’s su­per­nat­u­rally good at spot­ting things around cor­ners.

WHAT’S UN­DER THE BON­NET?

For now, there are two power op­tions. The smaller ver­sion is a two-litre, four-cylin­der, tur­bocharged petrol, pro­duc­ing 208bhp and driv­ing the rear wheels. This is good for a com­bined econ­omy fig­ure of 41.5mpg and 156g/km CO2, while per­for­mance fig­ures stand at 0-60mph in 7.1s and a top speed of 146mph.

The car was de­signed, though, around the new three-litre, V6 twin turbo. This 399bhp en­gine drives all four wheels and slashes well over two sec­onds off the ac­cel­er­a­tion time – stand­ing at 4.8s to 60mph – with a 155mph top speed. Econ­omy suf­fers a lit­tle, with 31.0mpg com­bined (though on our test it was nearer to 23mpg) and 208g/km CO2 emis­sions.

Both en­gines drive a seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box, with a tra­di­tional torque-con­ver­tor set-up.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

There’s a dis­tinctly odd sen­sa­tion when you drive the Q60 and it’s all down to the fact the steer­ing wheel isn’t ac­tu­ally at­tached to the steer­ing. Infiniti uses a driveby-wire sys­tem – some­thing that will be fa­mil­iar to Air­bus pi­lots, but a lit­tle less com­mon to the rest of us – which takes the in­puts from the steer­ing wheel and sends them elec­tron­i­cally to the steer­ing rack. There is, in fact, still an old me­chan­i­cal steer­ing sys­tem but this is only a back-up in case of the elec­tri­cal sys­tem fail­ing (which Infiniti tells us has never hap­pened).

It has more than a few ben­e­fits. The steer­ing can be as light or as heavy as you want it to be (and there are myr­iad ways of set­ting it up), has ab­so­lutely no cen­tral dead­zone and doesn’t feed back aw­ful road sur­faces through to your hands, mak­ing for a re­laxed long-dis­tance drive that is sporty and di­rect at the touch of a but­ton.

How­ever, it also means there’s not a great deal by way of steer­ing feed­back, so driv­ers who like to feel the road through their fin­ger­tips will not find much joy. De­spite this, the Q60 is a pretty sharp han­dler when the mood takes it, with plenty of grip avail­able.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Con­sid­er­ing the equip­ment on of­fer right from the very be­gin­ning, the Q60 is a keenly priced ve­hi­cle. For most buy­ers, what it has as stan­dard on the £33,990 en­try-level Q60 2.0t Premium is ex­actly what you’d want – leather seats, heated in the front with elec­tric ad­just­ing and heated wing mir­rors, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, DAB ra­dio, cruise con­trol, re­verse park­ing cam­eras and LED day­time lights, tail lights and fog lights.

To spec a ri­val to the same level will set you back more and, bet­ter still, pro­jec­tions put the three-year re­tained value above the BMW and Audi op­tions at 47 per cent.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The long-dis­tance com­muter who wants some­thing stress-free and truly exclusive.

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