2017 Infiniti Q60S Red Sport review

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport

THE $88,900 Infiniti Q60S Red Sport arrives as the Japanese carmaker’s performance-oriented halo model, equipped with a twin-turbo V6 and flexing a sizable 298 kilowatts.

WHAT IS IT?
The Q60S Red Sport is the flagship sports coupe offering for Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti, fitted with a powerful twin-turbo 3.0-litre six-cylinder that shares some features with the muscular 3.8-litre V6 of the Nissan GT-R.

WHY WE'RE TESTING IT
While the four-cylinder Q60 that launched locally late last year failed to excite us, its high-performance brother, the Q60S Red Sport, has on-paper stats which suggest it’ll deliver more thrills and a more engaging drive as well as a pricetag that promises exceptional value for money.

MAIN RIVALS
Lexus RC 350 F Sport, BMW 440i, Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe

THE WHEELS VERDICT
THE WHEELS VERDICT: The Red Sport recipe definitely adds some much-needed spice to the Q60 experience, but sub-par steering lets it down somewhat. A capable machine, but there’s still some scope for Infiniti to sharpen what is otherwise a very swift coupe.

PLUS: Strong engine, exceptional value equation, best Infiniti design yet
MINUS: Steering devoid of feel, sharp ride, road noise, oddball switchgear layout

THE WHEELS REVIEW

THIS is a fantastic six-pot. It’s something you discover approximately halfway up the tachometer, when its two turbochargers are well and truly on song and you’re in the meatiest part of the Q60S Red Sport’s seemingly relentless wave of torque.

But is that any great surprise? Infiniti’s parent company Nissan has a long history of making stellar sixers, most recently with the supercar-shaming VR38DETT of the mighty R35 GT-R, the multi-award-winning VQ-series V6s of the 350Z and 370Z and right past the silky RB26s of the R32, R33 and R34 Skyline GT-Rs through to the L24 of the vaunted 1969 Datsun 240Z.

The 3.0-litre direct-injected, twin-turbocharged, water-to-air intercooled VR30DDTT of the Red Sport is just the latest chapter in Nissan’s six cylinder story, and it’s a good one. There’s strong low-end pull courtesy of a 475Nm peak torque figure that begins at just 1600rpm and lasts to 5200rpm, and a linear power delivery maxing out at a segment-leading 298kW at 6400rpm. Great numbers that soundly beat a BMW 440i and Merc-AMG C43 Coupe, and for way less coin as well.

It makes an appealingly throaty V6 growl too, mimicking its powerlifting GT-R cousin. Hooked up to a slick seven-speeder and driving the rear wheels, the only real downside of the Red Sport’s powertrain is the fact the auto will self-upshift 200rpm shy of an indicated 7000rpm redline when in so-called ‘manual mode’. Irritating, but not necessarily a deal-breaker.

And it’s quick too. It may tip the scales at nearly 1.8 tonne, but the Q60 Red Sport dashes to 100km/h in roughly 5.0 seconds – on par with a BMW 440i for straight line speed.

It should keep up in corner too, thanks to an accomplished chassis residing beneath. Body control is excellent despite its heft, and you can chuck it into a corner with surprising aggression. But that’s balanced by a poor primary ride that is fussy and jiggly on slightly lumpy roads, and likely not helped by the run flat rubber. Road noise is prominent too despite noise-cancelling tech, which hurts the Red Sports’ prospects as a Grand Tourer.

However a bigger black mark is the steering. Infiniti may have added another steering mode relative to the Q50 Red Sport, but even the Sport Plus mode that’s touted as the most natural-feeling doesn’t quite give the Q60’s steer-by-wire system the tactility a performance car requires.

We’ll forgive the weirdness of the regular modes as they’re simply designed to make the car easier to drive, but even with the drive selector and steering config switched to their sportiest settings, there’s little in the way of meaningful feel or feedback. That makes it difficult to figure out how much grip remains at the front wheels when pushing hard. It’s great at filtering out the bad stuff like rack rattle and pothole jolts, but it filters out all of the good stuff too, spoiling what is otherwise a very charming and sporty RWD chassis.

That said, the steering is certainly accurate. It goes where it’s pointed without much fuss, and the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber grips well. It’s just a bit of a video game experience, is all. A shame, given Infiniti has elected to make performance the raison d’etre of its brand.

Value, on the other hand, is an undeniably strong Red Sport trait. It may miss out on fancier gear like head-up displays and  active cruise, but the 13-speaker Bose audio thumps out tunes, the powered and heated front seats are deep and comfortable, there are plenty of soft-touch surfaces and a standard sunroof.

There’s loads of active and passive safety equipment as standard as well, with lane keep assist, forward collision warning and blind spot monitoring on top of the usual suite of airbags and stability/traction control aids.

Infiniti may way to rethink the centre console switchgear ergonomics though, as it’s a mess to navigate. Same goes for the antiquated sat-nav graphics, which don’t marry up with the slicker interface on the input touchscreen directly below it.

On balance though, the Q60 Red Sport is a far more resolved product than the underwhelming four-pot that arrived here late last year. Its price-to-performance quotient is exceptional and there are plenty of mod-cons to enjoy on the inside. And to be fair, our steering complaints feel like they could be solved if Infiniti threw a few savvy engineers at a laptop to sort out that electric rack’s code (again). Keep at it, Infiniti, you’re getting close.

SPECS
Model:
Infiniti Q60S Red Sport
Engine: 2997cc V6, dohc, 24v, twin turbo
Max power: 298kW @ 6400rpm
Max torque: 475Nm @ 1600-5200rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Weight: 1784kg
0-100km/h: 5.0 sec (estimated)
Fuel economy: 8.9L/100km
Price: $88,900

 

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