Aussies have an almost infinite appetite for performance cars these days. Just ask Mercedes-AMG, which keeps piling on sales without squeezing Audi’s RS and BMW’s M.
Yet so far locals have struggled to digest anything tasty from Infiniti, until now… and the arrival of the Q60 Red Sport,the first and best shot at genuine sex/driver/sales appeal from Nissan’s luxury brand.
At $88,900 plus on-road costs, it isn’t cheap. However, the flagship two-door four-seat coupe asks significantly less – between $12,000 and $17,000 – than the Audi S5, BMW 440i and AMG C43 it’s pitched against.
With a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine producing 298kW and 475Nm, it generally falls in-line with such competition, and its circa-5.0-second 0-100km/h is lineball-to-three tenths adrift. As with only the BMW (or a cheaper Lexus RC350 that is less of a performance match) it drives the back wheels.
The options list amounts to $1500 for metallic paint and that’s it. The multi-spoke 19-inch wheels fill the subtly pumped guards nicely, while the exaggerated four-point front grille and angry-eyebrow LED lights hint at the menace missing from the base Q60 2.0-litre turbo.
Certainly the Q60 Red Sport looks the part, particularly in ‘hero’ hue Dynamic Sunstone Red with white trim inside (though black and red are no-cost options). The Japanese-built coupe’s build quality is flawless, from the high-quality semi-aniline leather and real carbonfibre adorning the centre stack, to the perfect stitching and shutlines throughout.
The low seating position and thin-rimmed steering wheel provide early cues that this four-seat coupe prioritises the driver over GT-like passenger comfort.
The front pews are excellent but rear-seat accommodation is virtually non-existent. Infiniti may pitch the Q60 against the S5, 440i and C43, but with poor legroom and headroom for rear riders, it ultimately places closer to the likes of the far cheaper BMW M240i.
While equipped with electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, sat-nav, Bose audio, around-view monitor, blind-spot and lane departure warnings and radar cruise control, there are omissions. Lane-keep assistance (optional in S5 and standard on C43) is unavailable, and likewise the digital speedometer, head-up display, voice control for nav and automatic park assistance delivered by rivals.
Infiniti’s ‘twin screen’ dash design also feels a decade behind. At a time when Audi is flaunting its superb ‘virtual cockpit’ driver cluster, the Q60’s low-resolution top screen and high-resolution bottom display appear glaringly mismatched right down to differing fonts and illogical sub menus. Along with generic Nissan-derived switchgear, it unfortunately makes any six-figure rival feel worth the stretch for cabin ambience alone.
But the M240i-versus-440i comparison swings into the Q60 Red Sport’s favour on the road.
Compared with tardy 2.0-litre turbo versions, the 3.0-litre twin-turbo gets two-mode adaptive dampers tagged Dynamic Digital Suspension, plus a Sport+ mode to reduce electronic stability control (ESC) intervention. It also includes version 2.0 of Infiniti’s controversial world-first fly-by-wire electric steering system.
Adding all that gear shows that this brand has some idea of how to please drivers. In concert with low-profile tyres, the Red Sport feels very firm even in Normal mode. Switch to Sport and it becomes abrupt. Yet there is always an immediacy and agility when changing direction and the Q60 maintains exact control of its body on rough roads.
The revised steering has a needless six modes to choose from, but only Sport+ really works on the open road. It provides sharp yet weighty response through corners without any slack.
That last setting also primes the seven-speed automatic for decently quick reactions, while the twin-turbo V6 is a pearler in terms of throttle response and urge – as it should with peak torque delivered from 1600rpm until 5200rpm, and maximum power at 6400rpm.
However, the greatest part of Sport+ is its fabulous ESC tuning that permits the driver to indulge in its rear-drive configuration by leaping from corner to corner with a slight twerk from its backside, but without ever feeling loose or lairy.
While its dynamics (and its design) are up there with a 440i, the tight rear accommodation, dated infotainment and generic cabin, along with intrusive road roar, does ensure that the Q60 Red Sport feels less like a $90,000 proposition than it should. It ultimately feels more like a $75,000 one – or where an M240i is positioned.
Either way, Infiniti has created a tasty driver’s car here and all in its own style. Only that pricing (and poor forecast resale values) could halt it from joining Australia’s sports car sales surge.
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport price and specifications
Price: From $88,900 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol
Power: 298kW at 6400rpm
Torque: 475Nm at 1600-5200rpm
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, RWD
Fuel use: 8.9L/100km