2018 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD Review

How Much is Beauty Worth?

Michigan’s Interstate 275 is a major north-south highway west of Detroit. A fast-moving super-slab, it’s my preferred route to Metro Airport, a back way of sorts to DTW.

Slicing through suburbs like Farmington Hills, Northville and Romulus, large portions of its 35-ish-mile length are grooved, looking like someone attacked the wet concrete with a giant rake. And this is the reason I bring up good ol’ I-275 in a review of the Infiniti Q60.

Striated pavement, ruts or other surface irregularities can cause vehicles to wander in their lane of travel, a complex battle for control between driver, tire and roadway. Of all the vehicles I’ve ever driven in my entire life, none has felt as unstable as the Q60 on these sections of highway, not even my 82-year-old Ford sedan rolling on bias-ply Firestones.

While traversing grooved sections at cruising speed this Infiniti would yaw from side to side practically like a Labrador retriever’s tail when someone makes mention of a trip to Dairy Queen. The experience was as unexpected as it was unnerving, with the car feeling like it might swap ends if full attention wasn’t paid at all time.

I’m not sure what caused this phenomenon. It could have been the meaty 255/35 R20 tires or its standard Dynamic Digital Suspension; the electronically controlled Direct Adaptive Steering may have been at fault, one might even place blame on its Active Lane Control system, which is designed to keep the vehicle centered while going down the road. Of course, it could have been a combination of these elements, but in any case, the experience was undesirable.

An Absolute Beauty

Introduced last year, the Q60 is Infiniti’s coupe offering, essentially a two-door twin of the Q50 sedan. Five models are available and Red Sport 400 is the top offering, giving drivers by far the most features and performance. Aside from three different engines, every version of Q60 is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Our tester was equipped with the latter.

A bold, curvaceous grill highlighted by a thin outline of chrome gives this two-door a somewhat full-figured, cheeky face, though the angled LED headlamps, which were supposedly inspired by human eyelids, add a dash of aggression.

The car’s flanks are nicely sculpted, and the distinctive, crescent-shaped C-pillar looks like nothing else on the market today. For those that care, 19-inch wheels are standard, but Red Sport 400 models roll on 20s, which fill out the wheel wells nicely. Add in a tidy rear end and you have a car that’s one of the prettiest in its segment, a looker from every angle that makes me wonder what’s gone awry for so long in Acura and Lexus design studios.

Aging Gracefully

Matching its tastefully aggressive exterior is a swooping cabin that’s both inviting and premium despite getting on in years. Many of its surfaces flow smoothly from one to another, giving the interior an almost organic look. Tall and pumped up, the center stack seems to push outward toward the passenger space, a design that ostensibly makes it easier to reach the car’s various controls.

Most of the Q60’s secondary switches are logically laid out, though the standard dual-screen Infiniti InTouch infotainment system takes practice to figure out. Its eight-inch upper display is home to the navigation system and a few other elements, while the bottom one, which spans seven inches, is used, in conjunction with an odd mix of hardware buttons to operate the climate-control and audio systems. Regrettably, none of this is very elegant or intuitive, with each system looking like they were created by separate teams of designers on altogether different continents. On the plus side, this system is speedy, responding to inputs without delay.

Our Red Sport 400 test car was also dressed up with stylish Silver Optic Carbon Fiber trim, which brightened the interior with some metallic glisten, a welcome change from the norm. It complimented the soft, semi-aniline leather trim nicely, but its white color gave me pause because it’s not going to stay that way for very long given the griminess of everyday life. Black and crimson cowhides are also offered, with the latter looking particularly striking, especially with our car’s Dynamic Sunstone Red paint job, an $800 option.

Nobody buys a coupe for practicality. More than anything, these cars are style statements meant for people that love to drive. Not surprisingly, the Q60 isn’t a great hauler. Its trunk is small even by sports-car standards, measuring less than 9 cubic feet (246 liters). In comparison, the Audi A5 coupe’s boot clocks in at 11.6 cubic feet (328 liters), the BMW 4 Series Coupe at 15.7 cubic feet (445 liters) and the appropriate Mercedes-Benz C300 Coupe at 10.5 cubic feet (297 liters). This Infiniti’s aft accommodations are also a tight squeeze for life-sized adults.

True, the duet of backseats isn’t particularly comfortable, but surprisingly, neither are the front buckets. There’s something off about the seating position in this car that I just couldn’t adapt to. For me, the lower cushion was too high off the floor, which put meant my noggin nearly grazed the headliner if the backrest weren’t angled rearward more than I’d prefer. Something about this didn’t sit well with me (no pun intended), making for an awkward driving position.

The Drive

Bundled in the $2,850 Proactive Package along with things like lane-departure prevention, intelligent cruise control and automatic high beams is Infiniti’s controversial Direct Adaptive Steering, which replaces a physical connection to the steering rack with various electronic components.

Touted as offering numerous benefits, including greatly enhanced low-speed maneuverability, reduced kickback on rough roads and a vast amount of tunability, this setup nonetheless leaves much to be desired. Indeed, the Q60 will turn on a dime while parking and the wheel remains free of any vibration or shock while traversing ugly surfaces, but the tradeoff for all this is all-around disconnectedness. It feels like you’re driving something with a computer joystick rather than steering a physical vehicle. Feedback is nonexistent, and the weighting is all off, making the Red Sport 400 far less engaging that it should be. Sadly, the Mazda6 sedan I tested just before was far more enjoyable to drive at roughly half the price.

SEE ALSO: 2018 Mazda6 Turbo Review — VIDEO

Sport and Red Sport 400 models come standard with Dynamic Digital Suspension, basically, a set of adaptive dampers allow the driver to tune how the vehicle behaves, whether they want a smooth and coddling ride or something stiffer for a bit of weekend canyon carving.

The Q60’s interior is also unexpectedly noisy, particularly at freeway speeds, something that’s inappropriate for a luxury car. Perhaps this is also the tires’ fault.

But it’s not all gripes and glowers with this stylish two-door. Unquestionably, the Red Sport 400’s best attribute is its smooth and responsive drivetrain.

As its name suggests, the car is endowed with 400 ponies, whipped up by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Silky smooth and free-revving, it’s a joy to flog. Torque output peaks at 350 pound-feet in a rev range as broad as the Great Plains, from 1,600 up to 5,200 rpm.

Direct fuel injection improves both performance and fuel economy, helping make this powerplant up to 6.7 percent more efficient than its naturally aspirated predecessor. Additionally, spray-in bore liners and cylinder head-integrated exhaust manifolds help reduce weight, while turbine speed sensors on the turbochargers allow the engine to safely run at higher boost levels, up to 14.7 psi (1.014 bar), spinning at 220,000 rpm in steady-state driving or up to 240,000 rpm under transient conditions.

Equipped with all-wheel drive, the Q60 tested for this review stickered at 19 miles per gallon in city driving (12.5 l/100 km) and 26 on the highway (9.2 l/100 km). Combined, it averaged a claimed 21 mpg (11.0 l/100 km).

All versions of the Q60 feature a responsive seven-speed automatic transmission. It changes gears smoothly and is more than willing to drop a handful of ratios when you nail the accelerator to make a swift getaway. Matched with the 400-horsepower V6 it’s exceedingly pleasant.

For drivers that don’t need that much giddy-up, Infiniti offers two other engines. The base unit is a 2.0-liter turbo-four that’s good for 208 ponies. The midrange offering is a detuned version of the Red Sport 400’s engine, delivering an even – and more than adequate – 300 horses.

The Verdict

Fun to drive but flawed, the 2018 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 is a car I wanted to love but regrettably couldn’t even like. After a week of testing, I found many aspects of it more annoying than endearing, which is a shame for something so gorgeous.

The base price for one of these beautiful coupes is about $53,000 (CDN $63,466), but the model tested here went for $65,705 out the door (CDN estimate $67,666), with options like the Sensory Package ($2,250), Proassist Package ($2,250), Proactive Package ($2,850) and Carbon Fiber Package ($2,250) all adding to the bottom line.

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