2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport first drive review: truth in truth Page 2


Peak performance?

The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport supplants the Q50 Red Sport as the top of Infiniti’s performance pyramid; the former IPL (Infiniti Performance Line) summit is gone for the automaker.

Under the hood is a turbocharged version of the new corporate V-6, which made its debut in the Q50. This 3.0-liter is force-fed to within an inch of its life to make 400 horsepower in the Q60 Red Sport, and it sits atop a trio of turbocharged engines available in the Q60. A 2.0-liter inline-4 makes 208 hp in Q60 2.0t versions, and the aforementioned turbo V-6 is tuned to a lower 300 hp in the 3.0t versions.

All engines are mated to a 7-speed automatic that’s indecisive at lower speeds, but more than willing once you’re up to highway speeds. You’ll want the standard paddle shifters on the Red Sport to grab the Q60 by the scruff of its neck, but they feel a little flimsy compared to the confident, skinnier posts found in the old G37.

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Snap off shifts in the Q60 and steer with your right foot. The Q60 is more than willing to spin up its rear tires anywhere, 400 horses will do that—no doubt exacerbated by the rain-soaked Southern California roads we drove on.

It’s devastatingly fun in wet empty lots to watch the Q60 Red Sport whip its back end around like a dog sprinting around a hardwood floor, but this car is the wrong tool for that job. The traction control—even at full “off”—still steps in eagerly. Thanks a lot, Obama.

Purists may bemoan the lack of a third pedal in the new Q60, but that's not the point—it’s more of a sports coupe, not a sports car.

Yes, it’s the lineal successor to the G37 that was a surprising driver’s machine. No, it doesn’t feel anywhere near the same. The 2017 Q60 has put on a winter coat from just five years ago; the new Red Sport coupe is nearly 150 pounds heavier than the old G37 Sport, or about 100 pounds more than last year's model.

Infiniti pegs the Q60 Red Sport’s 0-60 mph time at 5.0 seconds with all-wheel drive, a few ticks slower in rear-drive configuration. It’s every bit as fast as those numbers would indicate—but in a straight line only.

Turn the Q60 onto the twisties in spitting Southern California rain and a few truths emerge: First, the Q60 responds best with slow, deliberate instructions, which is a byproduct of its considerable weight; second, that the new drive-by-wire system in the Q60, and a new generation, has now caught up to more traditional racks; and third, the Q60 woefully overwhelms its brakes.

2017 Infiniti Q60

2017 Infiniti Q60

Enlarge Photo
2017 Infiniti Q60

2017 Infiniti Q60

Enlarge Photo
2017 Infiniti Q60

2017 Infiniti Q60

Enlarge Photo

Let’s talk about that last point first. Much like the Q50 we walloped around the track, it doesn’t take much to bring the Q60 Red Sport’s 16-inch rotors up front up to temperature—and then perhaps past it. The brake pedal doesn’t communicate much fade from the aluminum stoppers, but step outside and smell the glory—our nose let us know that the big Q60 asks a lot from its anchors.

After roughly 30 minutes of brisk driving in the hills outside San Diego (it was pouring rain, so it wasn’t all that brisk) the brakes in our Red Sport 400 were obviously gassed.

When they’re working, they work very well. The Q60 doesn’t dive under braking, and unlike the Q50, the coupe readily loads up its front and shoulders into corners without much squirreling from the rear end.

Part of that has to do with Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering system, which is one of the industry’s first drive-by-wire setups. Optional on most coupes, DAS sports multiple settings for steering comfort and weight, though most of them skew toward light.

We found our favorite setting in Sport+, which relayed an appropriately heavy feel through the wheel, but also with consequence. The variable ratio rack swings wildly from an impossibly fast 11.86:1 to a slow 29.38:1, but the system feels more natural now than it ever has—picking the system for its comfort no longer requires overlooking its faults for sporty driving.

But the Q60 won’t dart or knife through many corners. It’s at its best when its kept far from a ragged edge—make reservations for that hairpin in advance, please—and more sane in its aspirations.

If the Red Sport wants to compete with the BMW M4 and Mercedes-AMG C63, it’ll have to go on a diet first.


 
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