I’ve always enjoyed the offerings from Infiniti, it simply delivers luxury and edgy design in its own unique way at a decent price. Since returning to Australia five years ago, its dealer network has expanded from three to 11, sales have gone from 85 units in 2012 to 807 in 2016 and it now has a new Managing Director at the helm, Chang-Hwan Lee. In a further boost a new halo car sits atop of the ever increasing range, the Q60 Red Sport. Chris Bowen took this 298kW coupé for a run on some of Victoria’s best Targa Rally roads.
Facts and Figures
The Q60 Red Sport is now the crown of the Q60 range. In 2.0-litre format, prices range from $62,900 to $70,000 for the 2.0t Sport Premium. But now Q60 fans have the option of spending $88,900 for some serious extra thrust. Under the bonnet sits a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 with the very impressive figures of 298kW / 475Nm of torque on offer. It’s matched to a 7-speed automatic with power being sent to the rear wheels.
In my opinion this is one of the more attractive coupé attempts around, it runs a very close second to the Audi A5 I recently drove at its launch. Sitting on 19’’ wheels unique to the Red Sport, it features the Infiniti look and feel but has been executed in such a way it has a bit of brawn to it. The front end is almost menacing and the side profile flows smoothly while also being deeply creased. I drove a black example with red leather interior all day, it was certainly a head turner through some quaint Victorian townships.
The interior is excellent without being a masterclass such as Audi or Mercedes-Benz offerings. The Nappa leather feels very high-end, real carbon fibre inlays and metallic detailing on the Bose 13 speaker system add some bling. But in a tech heavy car Infiniti does manage to overlook a few vital areas.
The dual infotainment screens – one 7’’ the other 8’’ are frankly odd, with both featuring their own resolution and graphic style, they even reflect sunlight differently. While using the various functions is straight forward via a rotary style dial it’s just a bit of a letdown, that whole centre stack area can really make or break a car these days. On top of this don’t expect Apple CarPlay, a Head Up Display or digital speedo. If you are to truly compete with the Europeans these little things need to be right.
There’s room for two in the rear seat, but as with just about any coupé don’t expect long rides or headroom. Aside from a few gripes, the build quality is impeccable with not a squeak or rattle to be heard.
Infiniti loves a good dose of tech but often in unseen areas. Again the steer-by-wire system is in place, meaning there is no mechanical link between the steering wheel and the front wheels. Driver inputs are interpreted by a computer system that hopefully knows what it’s doing. This Direct Adaptive Steering can be a little off putting to those who like to really feel the road through their hands. However it’s now in a second generation phase and as I’ll point out marginally better.
Another Infiniti marvel thrown in is Dynamic Digital Suspension (DDS). Dampers are electronically controlled to alter the level of body roll and overall stiffness of the suspension. A drive mode selector allows the driver to personalise the preferred set up.
But How Does It Drive?
Any car with 298kW on tap is going to be fun, the Q60 Red Sport is no let down in that area. I spent around five hours in the car travelling Targa Rally worthy roads from Wangaratta to Goughs Bay and even through Bonnie Doon (one off the bucket list!). As a drive program there’d be few more challenging roads to put a vehicle through its paces.
Initially it doesn’t feel like a rocket off the mark, despite its five second dash to 100kph. It’s once going that this pearler of an engine most impressed. There is zero turbo-lag, the power comes on like a strong wave and just keeps pounding away. Overtaking is potentially a licence shredding event, you really need to keep your eyes on the analogue speedo to keep things in check.
The engine note is quite isolated from the cabin and certainly doesn’t feature any gnarly overtones. It’s refined power so don’t expect any snap crackle and pops from the dual exhaust. With all that power going to the rear end I did notice the traction control system’s eagerness to intervene. While some spirited driving was being had I didn’t think the car was being pushed to its limit to warrant the safety net coming on. Exiting a few corners resulted in no power for a good couple of seconds while the Q60 brain tried to reign my alleged indiscretions in.
The steer-by-wire system is now improved, I didn’t feel as removed from the car as previous efforts. In sport mode it’s a very direct and sharp steer, I still don’t think it’s a truly pure feel but in general you’d have to say the Q60 Red Sport can corner very confidently. It’s a tad heavy at 1784kgs but the Akebono front four-piston and rear two-piston brakes are more than capable. To make this a true road hugger, the addition of all-wheel-drive would complete the picture but unfortunately that’s only offered overseas.
But from carving up the mountainous high country hair pins, to long runs on the freeway I was impressed by the overall serenity of it all.
Is It Well Equipped?
The Red Sport edition does score a long list of standard features, in fact the only option available is metallic paint for $1500. Safety features are what you’d expect at this level with forward emergency warning and breaking with pedestrian detection, predictive forward collision warning, backup collision intervention, blind spot warning with intervention, lane departure warning with active lane control, a surround camera system and 6 airbags. You can choose red, black or white leather. But I just love that red and black paint combo.
In The Long Run
Given the huge power on tap I notched up a respectable 10.5L/100km fuel figure, I was a little surprised it was that low to be honest. The official claim is 8.9L/100k, but you do need to feed it 95RON unleaded or above. Warranty runs for 100,000km with trips to the dealer every 15,000 or 1 year. They also offer a premium roadside assistance program that covers any other car you own, irrespective of the brand. I certainly haven’t heard of that one before!
EFTM Rubber Stamp
It’s easy to dismiss Infiniti vehicles as pimped up Nissans and sure you do score the odd Nissan sourced button, or even the middle screen on the instrument cluster. But the Q60 Red Sport has taken the brand up a notch with a credible effort that is both enticing and convincing. If you can find a dealer, are in the market for a performance coupé and want to save a few bucks go and check one out. I award the Infiniti the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.