Sorry, I don’t understand the Infiniti range. Can I have some context?
My pleasure. The Infiniti Q60 is a rear-drive coupe with four-ish seats. As every wannabe-premium manufacturer does, Infiniti looks at life through the lens of the Southern German marques – so the Q60 is the size of a BMW 4-Series
, Audi A5
or Mercedes C-Class Coupe. It’s based on the Q50 saloon, just as they’re based on the 3-Series, A4 and C saloon.
I see. You need to bring fancy tech if you’re not to be laughed out of that playground. Any headlines here?
It’s a natively rear-drive chassis, though this top version has 4WD. The engine is a brand-new 3.0-litre V6. It has two turbos and direct injection, and makes 400bhp. It has various tweaks to keep lag at bay, including short exhaust paths and turbos mounted right by the heads. It’s not related to the GT-R’s V6, by the way.
On the options list, and fitted to the test car, is a very active chassis. It not only has adaptive dampers, but fully active steering. There’s no direct mechanical link between your hands on the wheel and the steering rack. Instead, computers work out what might be an appropriate amount of steering lock, and what’s an appropriate amount of ‘feel’ back to your hands. They instruct motors to act accordingly.
OK, let’s take one thing at a time. The engine?
Like pretty well any downsized motor, it’s lost a bit of response and aural emotion compared with the famous naturally-aspirated VQ-series engine that it will gradually replace across Infiniti’s line. The throttle feels tardy even as you’re above 4000rpm. It’s the industry-standard story of the arrival of turbos: more torque, less of the fizz. Ah well, at least it’s still got six cylinders.
And it revs out happily, which matches the autobox. It has a short third gear gear, which will work well in Britain for taking overtaking chances. German cars nearly all have too big a gap from second to third. A pity the box occasionally came over hesitant and slurry under full-torque shifts.
Lots of traction I guess?
Yup, even in the wet you’ve got to be provoking it in a tight curve before there’s any sense you could trouble the tyres. But by the same token there’s very little feel for the chassis. Once you’re at the limit it mostly just understeers.
Not much gain from the fancy steering then?
Well, not much gain when you’re cornering on the limit, no. The so-called ‘feel’ the microprocessors allow you is very threadbare.
Does that matter?
Not really. Thing is, the engine and driveline aren’t exactly hardcore sporty. they’re more about brisk and secure touring. And for that the active steering has advantages.
Enough to overcome its drawbacks?
In this sort of car, probably yes. First, it goes high-geared and light to save arm-twirling around city junctions. Then it morphs into something lower geared, with more self-centring, for motorway stability. This works well. In fact it’s well calibrated for weight and progression at any speed.
Also, it filters out interference, so the wheel stays steady and the car goes straight even if you’re going down a lumpy road. This too works well. It’s very relaxing, and points up how much general commotion there is to your hands in a 4-Series on a poor road.
Finally, the system is hyped as a step to autonomous driving. Another success. Activate the lane keeping and radar cruise, and the Q60 guides you with vastly more subtlety than the jerky paths sketched out by a Tesla on Autopilot or Mercedes on Drive Pilot.
So it’s an easy-driving quick GT. Maybe not a car in Top Gear heartland but lots of people would enjoy that.
Yup, and to play that role it’s a quiet thing too. Active noise cancellation helps keep tyre and wind noise down to a hush. The seats and driving position always mould to your shape. The only issue in that role is that the ride never shrugs off an irritating high-frequency turbulence.
Does the cabin feel posh enough?
The leather’s soft, is beautifully stitched and licks its way all over the dash and doors. The test car had what looked like white carbonfibre decor, actually woven from fibre-optic glass.
Do I see not one but two touchscreens?
Well spotted. The lower one has smooth graphics. But the other one, where looks really matter because it carries the map, actually looks grittier. Also, the division of tasks between the two isn’t very intuitive, and neither is it obvious when you should use the screens and when the rotary controller by the cupholders. It takes a bit of getting used to in a way rival systems don’t.
The outside sheetmetal looks intriguing.
Especially in the candy red (below). Infiniti installed a new paint booth at its factory to do just this one colour. It has several clear coats on top and and really does look like it’s still wet. Which enhances the deeply contoured pressings and concave-convex waist. Whether or not you like Infinti design, you’ve got to admit it challenges the orthodoxies.
OK, but I’m thinking I could get the advantages of the style and easy driving from a RWD four-cylinder diesel. Then I’d save a bundle of tax…
Oh no. It’s petrol only. See, Infiniti sells hardly any cars in Europe, and diesel isn’t a thing anywhere else in the world. So it wasn’t reckoned worthwhile to do a diesel just for us. You might say to Infiniti, as I did on your behalf, that if they made cars that suited this continent, they might sell some here.
And they said?
The Q30 and Q50 do have diesels, so they they have been making the effort, but even so growth is hard to come by.
So this is a car I’ll never see?
Probably. Still it looks interesting and is quite agreeable. The range starts with a 2.0 RWD at under £34k. This V6 with 4WD is likely to be £43,000, with the active steering as an option on top. So its rivals are the briefly named Audi S5 and the lengthily named Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG 4Matic Coupe. Neither of which you see that often. If Audi and M-B can’t shift many £45k petrol coupes, Infiniti for sure won’t.
2997cc V6 twin-turbo, seven-speed auto, 4WD, 400bhp, 350lb ft, 31.0mpg, 0-62mph in 5.0sec, 155mph, 1874kg