Fifteen years ago, Infiniti pulled the covers off the most important car it has ever made: the G35. Based on the venerable Japanese-domestic-market (JDM) Nissan Skyline, and available as a sedan or a coupé, the G35 arrived to great fanfare and critical acclaim. With 260 horsepower from its burly VQ-series V6 engine and a taut rear-wheel drive chassis, it was the first luxury sports sedan from the land of the rising sun to compete toe-to-toe with the BMW 3-Series. A massive enthusiast following developed around the car, and it has at times accounted for up to 60% of Infiniti sales.
The second-generation G35 (later called G37 to reflect a bump in engine displacement) bowed in 2007, with smoother styling and even more horsepower. In 2014, Infiniti discarded all of its model names in favor of a new naming scheme, with all cars carrying a “Q” designation, and SUV’s and crossovers called “QX.” The G37 Sedan was redesigned and renamed the Q50, and the G37 coupé became the Q60 despite remaining unchanged. The rest of the line suffered a similar identity crisis. I think it’s risky business to rename a model in the middle of its life cycle, but that’s none of my business.
At long last, Infiniti has introduced an all-new Q60 coupé for 2017. First thing first: it’s gorgeous; a flat-out stunner. From any angle, but especially the front three-quarter view, the Q60 looks ferocious. The Q60 continues to advance Infiniti’s design motif, evoking powerful ocean swells and flexed human muscles, with a silhouette that recalls the original G35 coupé.
I believe it was Prince who said it best:
You've got the look (You've got the hook)
You sho'nuf do be cookin' in my book
Your face is jammin'
Your body's heck-a-slammin'
If love is good
Let's get to rammin'.
Infiniti will let you get to rammin’ with with 3 different engine options: a Mercedes-Benz-sourced 2.0-litre turbocharged four with 208hp and 258lb-ft of torque, the new VR30DDTT 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V-6 tested here, with 300hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, or the 400hp, 350lb-ft Red Sport model. See? Romance isn’t dead. In Canada, the Q60 line is all-wheel-drive only, with a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting. Americans can opt for rear-drive with any motor.
My Obsidian Black 3.0T AWD test car presented fully loaded with the $2,000 Driver Assistance Package (Forward Emergency Braking w/Pedestrian Detection, Rain Sensing Wipers, Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection, Predictive Forward Collision Warning, Front & Rear Parking Sensors, Blind-Spot Warning, and Back Collision Intervention with Rear Cross Traffic Alert) and the $3,200 Technology Package (Adaptive Front Lighting System, Intelligent Cruise Control, Eco pedal, Front Seat Driver/Passenger Pre-Crash Seatbelts, High Beam Assist, Distance Control Assist, Blind-Spot Intervention, and Advanced Climate Control System with Plasmacluster™ and Grape Polyphenol filter.) and carried a sticker price of $60,311 (CAD).
That’s a lot of new, high-tech features to digest in print, and it’s a lot to digest in-car, too. I’m a pretty tech-savvy guy, but could have used the assistance of another human to explain the fine but important difference between Intelligent Cruise Control and Distance Control Assist. As it turns out, DCA uses the brakes to maintain a minimum following distance behind the car in front. Really useful for stop-and-go Toronto traffic.
Once you’ve mastered the suite of driver assistance features, they work beautifully. The Intelligent Cruise Control operates seamlessly and confidently. The display graphics succinctly indicate which systems are active, and there’s a single button on the steering wheel to disable them all with one tap. The design of the on-screen graphics looks a bit dated and the fonts vary from one screen to the next, which will only bother design geeks and people who read this article.
The heated leather seats look particularly good in white or red, rather than my test car’s all-black scheme. They’re nicely bolstered, and they’d be comfortable for a weekend getaway to the Muskokas. The back seat could accommodate kids or smaller adults for shorter trips, but this car is really a chariot for 2. Trunk space takes a slight hit in the name of fashion, a victim of the Q60’s sloping decklid, but weekend baggage for two won’t be a problem.
Outward visibility is surprisingly good for a low-slung coupé. While the upright, twin-pod instrument panel isn’t overtly sporty, it is luxurious. The soft-touch material looks expensive with contrast stitching and charcoal stained real wood trim. The seats share the same upright posture and strike a nice balance between sporty and comfortable. It’s almost as if the Q60 isn’t a sports car at all, but rather a sexy and sporty luxury sedan with two doors.
G35 purists cry “sellout!” The first generation G35 became a darling of the aftermarket and race tuning scene, but that’s not where Infiniti is going with the Q60. Style, comfort, and speed are the keywords here, rather than razor-sharp reflexes. Think of it as a guy who takes Krav Maga classes to stay in shape and look like he could win a fight, but would never actually get into a fight.
The Q60 features Infiniti’s second-generation Direct Active Steering, which is a fully electronic system; I.E, no steering column. Systems such as this are becoming more common as they are easier to integrate with autonomous vehicle technologies, and they improve safety eliminating the steering column harpooning the firewall in a crash. The firmness of the steering can be adjusted, along with throttle responsiveness and other parameters, by selecting Sport mode on-screen or with the console-mounted toggle switch. I liked the car best in sport mode. There is also a Debbie Downer “Eco” mode which suspends all enjoyment for the sake of mother earth.
On the road, the Q60’s is composed and comfortable. The Q60 is particularly happy along big, sweeping curves and wide open straights where you can really bite into the thick part of the power band. I found the transmission a bit hesitant to downshift at low speeds around town, but otherwise it seems to choose the right gear most of the time. I found myself sliding over to the manual shift gate to get more engaged with the proceedings. All three-hundred ponies were ready and willing to play when spurred manually, and 100km/h arrives in under 6 seconds. I haven’t driven the 400-horsepower Red Sport version, but I don’t see how more power could be a bad thing.
This newest Q60 may ride on an updated version of the same FM platform as the ur-G35, but its moves are from a different playbook now. Fifteen years on, Infiniti isn’t targeting the same type of person as with the G35--they’re targeting the same person. The Q60 has become better-looking and more mature with time. We should all be so lucky.
Special thanks to Infiniti Downtown for providing my test car. infinitidowntown.ca