The Pace Maker

The Pace Maker

The new Q60 coupe is Infiniti's vision of the brand's future, wrapped in a sleek sculpted body and powered by the will of 400 horses



By George Kuruvilla

Published: Fri 21 Jul 2017, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 21 Jul 2017, 2:00 AM

This week, we sample a new flavour from Infiniti's vehicular recipes. Although the brand's confusing naming strategy continues, this one - the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 - seems to have gotten it right with flamboyant styling, a vicious new motor and the usual bells and whistles. We check it out.

DESIGN & AESTHETICS
In a world marred by the work of those with the copycat syndrome and regulations that restrict the size and shape of vehicular design, we, as customers and enthusiasts, yearn for something with a different stroke. And over time, Infiniti has proved itself as a standout enterprise creating cars with visual textures that leave us intrigued, if not in awe.
With the 2017 Infiniti Q60, a new high has been achieved. The compact coupe boasts some delicious lines set over a quartet of wheels, thanks to a group of ingenious designers who have abandoned the sketch-with-stencil technique for a more free-hand approach. They have fulfilled the sport moniker by fitting a low hanging and intricately styled double-arch grille upfront, from which originates a bunch of swoopy lines, created using an innovative 3-D stamping process. These curves continue over the hood, wheel arches, doors and terminate over the truncated rear, flowing end-to-end in a manner conveying both muscle and movement. Adding more dynamic appeal are short overhangs at either end and large 19-inch wheels at all four corners. In all honesty, it's good to see manufacturers turn their concepts into production cars, as Infiniti has done here.
Without being too garish, Infiniti conveys its luxury lineage with touches of chrome on the grille, window surrounds and slits on the front fenders. As for illumination, those chic streaks of LED DRLs do a great job of keeping the car visible during the day, while the powerful xenon projectors throw bright white light into the night. The rear gets slender LEDs as well. Even the quirky bits - like the ribbed black trims that flank the rear bumper - add character.
Where the Q50 sedan seems like a half-baked job, the Q60 coupe comes across as the perfect antidote for the barrage of unoriginal cars we see in the market today. There is one problem though: there is little to inflate the ego of the Red Sport 400 owner - it looks almost exactly like its lesser and cheaper siblings.
Things plateau when doors open. We noticed a slight shudder from the frameless windows on opening, indicating that Infiniti still maintains a slight deviance from accepted 'German' quality. On the insides, the "zero gravity" seats have curves that hug you in the right places with several channels of twin-needle stitching. Expectedly, the raked roofline hinders headspace in the rear, leaving the cabin best suited for your shorter or 2-tier friends. But at least there is a button and 'pull' to move the front seats electronically.
Up front, there is plenty of room to be shared by two. The 3-spoke steering isn't the sportiest in its class, considering flat-bottoms are the trend even in hot hatches, but it is padded and comfortable to grip. The real problem is with the centre-console architecture, which involves a mish-mash of shapes and materials, making it a regressive take on the "retro" design - if ever it was meant to be. The multi-interface infotainment system involving two touchscreens and the additional iDrive-like controller indicates that Infiniti is trying to find a way in the digital world.

POWERTRAIN & PERFORMANCE
The starter button is slightly concealed. Push that and the needles spin around and return to zero. As I drive off my private car park and on to public roads, I give the throttle a blip and, without hesitation, the coupe surges ahead as expected. On the front axle rests the 400bhp version of the direct injection twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 - that makes as much as 475Nm of torque. There is also a 300bhp Red Sport for less cash and even a 208-horse base model.
Racing to 100 km/h from a standstill can be achieved in well under 6 seconds, but where it really thrives is on the straights. With an open throttle on an open highway, it turns from fast to frenzy, accelerating so hard between 60 km/h and 120 km/h, you better hold on to the steering, as it seemingly renders both mass and inertia irrelevant!
The steering stays light and easy in the congested bounds of the city which is commendable, but as you approach end-of-empty-street corners or those long sweeping curves at high velocity, hoping to tackle them in confidence, the steering offers very little feedback and does not communicate the road surface or the traction available at all four wheels effectively, quite unlike sports cars such as a Porsche Cayman or BMW M2. I realised it may have to do with the Direct Adaptive Steering® that uses an electronic impulse to convey directional input at the steering to the wheels. and it does so wirelessly. The failsafe mechanical connection only works if it detects a malfunction.
After a few infuriating hours behind the wheel, it dawns on me! This isn't a mentalist machine that is for corner carving as much as it is for cruising down boulevards in the shortest spans of time. It's a grand tourer of the first order. And with that in mind, the quiet cabin, the relatively soft ride and the muted exhaust make total sense.
Ironically, as you attempt to steer away with little feedback, hoping to evade curbs and sidewalls, the Red Sport 400 almost automatically guides itself into the intended course. So, although steering feel is lost in translation, the electronically-controlled sport suspension, combined with an independent double wishbone front and a multi-link rear suspension, make for a finely tuned and capable chassis.

FEATURES & FUNCTIONALITY
While the rear cabin may be cramped, the boot is a little more liberal. Its 342L of space will eat up your sports bag, your golf bag or your suitcase without fuss. Opening it can be done via a cleverly concealed button.
Also, it's a known fact that we reside in a country that is located closer to the sun than any other. But thanks to the Q60's efficient dual-zone climate control system, you don't need to sweat it out. It could do with seat coolers, instead of heaters, though!
Infiniti provides a large suite of safety features; it doesn't make driving it on Dubai's busy streets crash-proof, but it does reassure the customer in every way possible. Available are Around View, Backup Collision Intervention, Blind Spot Warning and Intervention, Lane Departure Warning and Prevention Systems and dual-stage front air bags, besides the four other regular airbags. You also get a tyre pressure monitoring system and plenty more.
For audiophiles on the move, there is a BOSE® Performance Series audio system with 13 speakers with lovely perforated aluminum covers that produce high-definition sound regardless of genre or source - be it USB drive, Bluetooth etc. Navigation works not nearly as well as Google Maps - as with all cars - and the Infiniti's iDrive-like controller/screen combination is fidgety but doesn't serve as a selling point, unlike those spinner toys.

VERDICT
Think of the 2017 Q60 Red Sport 400 as a raw, visceral, fire-snorting, exhaust-popping coupe as the name may suggest and it will leave you broken-hearted. But view it as a grand tourer, highlighted by flamboyant styling, with immense mid-range grunt at your disposal - and you are possibly in for a love affair. If you can ignore the finicky infotainment system and afford the surprisingly hefty price tag, you have what we think is one of the great coupes of 2017!
FUN FACT
THE INFINITI Engineering Academy is a global search and training programme for talented engineering graduates who have the chance to be placed at INFINITI Technical Centre and Renault Sport Formula OneT Team facilities. However, for some undisclosed reason, they do not accept applicants from certain countries.

SPECIFICATIONS
Body type: 2+2-seater; 2-door premium high-performance compact coupe
Engine: Front-engine; twin-turbo 3.0 V6; rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Peak output: 400bhp @ 6,400rpm; 475Nm @ 1,600 - 5,200rpm
0 to 100km/h: sub-5.0 seconds (estimated)
Top speed: 250 km/h (electronically limited; claimed)
Price: Starting at Dh175,000

Pros: Bodacious bodywork; immense mid-range grunt; overall comfort and features
Cons: Wooden steering feel; fit and finish not at par with German rivals; relatively pricey; little to distinguish from its less siblings; muted exhaust
Author's rating: 7.5/10 stars

wknd@khaleejtimes.com


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