Style before sports
The Q60 is a luxury head-turner — wait four months for the performer
THE Japanese take on a sporty coupe doesn’t comply with the European mindset in crafting the same machine. The Land of the Rising Sun caters to its own whims but also to those of the Americans who represent their biggest global market.
Luxury and looks are more important than sprint times, at least in the entry models that account for the bulk of sales.
With that in mind, the thirdgeneration Infiniti Q60 coupe stands as a massive progression over its predecessor, even in the base guise that will be the only version on sale in Australia for the next four months.
The $62,900 entry price undercuts logical rival Lexus by $2000 and is clear again by the same margin from the most affordable of the Europeans in the Audi A5.
A $3000 “Enhancement Package” adds a sunroof, adaptive front lighting, 360degree camera and 13-speaker Bose audio with active noise cancellation to quell what is already subdued outside sound.
Infiniti adopts the Mercedes-Benz 2.0-litre turbo to power its newest coupe and the results are respectable when paired to a seven-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive.
Far more impressive is the exterior styling. Like or loathe the convoluted creases and asymmetric panel shapes, the Q60 makes a striking impression.
Engineering had to adapt to the design, which meant that panels such as the boot lid had to be made of a plastic/metal hybrid because metal stamping processes couldn’t produce the required shapes.
Inside it is dressed with double-stitched leather and aluminium highlights.
A dual digital display dominates the centre console — the upper area deals with satnav and the lower screen controls the infotainment and in-car functionality. That amounts to a classy car but one that isn’t likely to trouble the European triumvirate for dynamics. That isn’t the Q60 2.0 GT’s remit.
This is a style-driven proposition with high levels of tech and luxury for the price, which won’t hurt in the muchneeded promotion of the brand.
Infiniti is still a relative minnow in Australia. Four years after Nissan’s local launch of its premium marque, the brand is yet to achieve 1000 sales.
More — and better — products and a rollout of dealerships in the capital cities are fuelling the growth, which remains a slow burn.
ON THE ROAD
Love the chassis, detest the electric steering. In the standard driving mode, the Q60 meanders over every crease on a straight road and seems to willingly defy attempts to set a constant steering angle around a rippled turn.
Switch into sport mode and the steering settles but the perception is that the already firm suspension becomes harsher to the point where it is uncomfortable over hardedged ruts such as train and tram tracks.
It’s a long way from the smaller Q30 hatch’s range of suspension compliance and simply isn’t in the class of European rivals such as the BMW 4 Series and MercedesBenz C-Class coupe. I’d understand it in a sedan but it is incongruous in a coupe.
Exacerbating all of the above, the stability control intervenes with more alacrity and aggression than an overwrought helicopter parent. I don’t want to snap the tail out but I do want to drive out of the turns without having a tourniquet applied to the power.
The chassis itself feels as if it is built of billet aluminium and doesn’t flinch under abrupt changes in steering angle, which adds to the frustration. Coupes are meant to be playful and the great fundamentals are undermined by a combination of the extra weight (a BMW 420 is about 160kg lighter), the
INFINITI Q60 GT
PRICE From $62,900 WARRANTY 4 years/100,000km CAPPED SERVICING $2030 for 3 years SERVICE INTERVAL 12 months/25,000km SAFETY Not tested, 6 airbags ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 155kW/350Nm TRANSMISSION 7-speed auto; RWD THIRST 7.7L/100km DIMENSIONS 4690mm (L), 1850mm (W), 1395mm (H), 2850mm (WB) WEIGHT 1698kg SPARE None; repair kit 0-100KM/H 7.3 seconds interventionist stability control and the unresponsive steering.
The turbo engine sounds purposeful and pulls all the way to the rev limit, while peak torque from 1250rpm ensures it kicks along with more purpose than its direct competitors, at least in a straight line.
Active trace control — a fancy term for torque vectoring — works well on sweeping corners, tightening the line and ensuring the Infiniti is always on the black stuff.
In urban environments the Q60 will more than do the job and turn more heads than an Audi A5, if only due to rarity. As such it fulfils the design brief but has yet to be engineered as a truly global car. Yanks might buy it — that’s the biggest market — but that doesn’t make it a world beater.
If you want a premium statement of style and sophistication, the Infiniti takes some beating at this price.
If you want a sports coupe, best hold out for the $88,900 twin-turbo V6 (298kW/ 600Nm) due in March.
It will furnish the performance to match the pedigree — providing it comes with a bespoke suspension tune.