Test Drive: 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD

I always thought this song was by Neil Diamond. I have no idea how or why that thought was stuck in my mind, but it was. Turns out the track I’m thinking of is by Chris de Burgh – a name I’d never actually heard before I went fact-checking for this review. You learn things, in this job.

It’s an elegant piece of design that will have you humming embarrassing mid-80s romantic ballads.

And yes, it’s a horrific cliché, but “Lady in Red” genuinely entered my mind every time I approached the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0T Red Sport 400.

The sweeping coupe lines are beautiful and the red paint, like a well-cut dress or suit, accentuates all the positives. Curb appeal abounds, and the allure carries through into the interior with its rich white leather, and supremely comfortable, sculpted seats. It’s an elegant piece of design that will have you humming embarrassing mid-80s romantic ballads.

The Q60’s wild beating heart is a 400 hp, 350 lb-ft, twin-turbo V6 with a trick turbo speed sensor (to help reduce turbo lag) and dual water pumps (because the marketing department needed something to write about).

Any and all faults found in this car are absolutely, categorically, 100 percent mitigated, dismissed, and forgiven with one single application of 100 percent throttle to this sonorous, grin-inducing power plant.

The seven-speed auto won’t fire off changes in anger mode until the needle tickles the 7,000 rpm redline, and when it does they come quickly with a healthy bark out the back tailpipes.

If you use the paddles to downshift the Q60 will match revs. This is as satisfying as it is needless and prompted so many superfluous gearshifts I could have been filming the next Need for Speed movie. Somehow, the engine feels stronger here than it did when I first drove it in a Q50.

Here in Canada we only get the Q60 in all-wheel drive. I complained long and hard about this fact after driving the sedan cousin to the Q60, the Q50, in RWD format back in 2015. In the Q60 it seems like Infiniti has been listening though, because the coupe will adopt a decisive rear-wheel bias when approached with a leaden right foot. It’s not quite right-wheel drive, but it’s as close as all-wheel drive can get, and will satisfy those of us who worship at the Church of Oversteer.

The Q60’s 1,760 kg chassis does a wonderful job of talking to your backside, transcribing the trials and tribulations of the 19-inch alloys accurately into the seat cushion.

Which is why the inconsistency of steering feel is so glaring and disappointing. Infiniti has worked hard, really hard, to eliminate the lightness and the vagueness from which the first generation of Direct Adaptive Steering suffered. The DAS is a steer-by-wire system with a mechanical back-up separated from the steering box by a clutch. I’ve driven this back-to-back with Infiniti’s regular electric-assisted steering and the feel in DAS is better – generally. In some situations (and mostly only in normal mode) the steering changes its feedback level in inconsistent and sometimes counter-intuitive ways.

While I could feel the limits of adhesion in my backside, the steering masks it through my hands. So in longer, higher-speed corners you can sense the pressure on the outside front tire and even get to the point of hearing it squeal without really feeling that chop you’d expect from the steering wheel.

Too long; didn’t read version: Chassis good, handling good, chassis feel good, steering feel – not so good.

The brake pedal could use more confident back pressure too, but that issue may be more the result of ham-footed auto writers stomping the pedal like a rhino than anything else. This test unit was getting to the end of its press cycle, after all.

That you can get this 400 hp engine wrapped in a package this sexy for $60k is a positive thing, but inside you’ll find Infiniti’s cost-saving methods easy to find.

For one, there’s a foot-operated parking brake instead of an electric button. The rear seat is not a split fold, which is forgivable because chassis stiffness. But it also doesn’t have a ski pass-through, or an arm rest. This made my daughter very, very upset. But then I took off from a stop light at pace and she spent the next day giggling.

The faux aluminum trim is appealing aesthetically but feels less impressive to touch, and the switchgear shows a clear relationship to the less pricey mother brand. It’s nice in here – but not luxury nice. I have referred to Infiniti as a “value luxury brand” in the past. It is fitting here too.

Rear leg room is great and the space feels airy, but the swooping roof line generated issues for my wife. At 5'6" I found the Q60 perfectly comfortable, but my wife is also 5'6" and her head kept hitting the roofline. Her torso is particularly long and her limbs short, so her seating position is further forward than mine, and more upright. Even with the seat at its lowest setting her head was against the roof lining.

The 246 litres of advertised cargo space seems low on paper, but I thought the boot was larger than that – I had to triple check this number. The Q60 is a good example of how cargo volume measurements don’t tell a full or accurate story. For reference, my large OGIO gear bag fit in there with no issues.

If you care about fuel economy, you probably haven’t even read this far down. But just in case, I’d like you to know we saw 11.4 L/100 km in a week of combined driving. The official ratings are 12.5/9.2/11.0 L/100 km city/highway/combined. Which is poor for a mid-size coupe but decent for 400 hp. The bigger threat to the environment than the tuning is the way the Q60 makes you want to use all the throttle, all the time. #Phwoar.

A Red Sport 400 should have a really special steering wheel. F-Sport models do, so do Audi S-line cars. This wheel is underwhelming. As one passenger remarked, “It should at least have a flat bottom.” The Nissan Juke Nismo RS has a suede-wrapped steering wheel with a red centering stripe on the top – it’s a cooler wheel than this. Infiniti could do more to make this cockpit feel special as compared to other Q interiors.

My wife is a fan of the two-screen centre stack, and I saw its advantages during my time with the car – but only if you’ve forked out for navigation. The lack of Android Auto/Apple CarPlay is something that will hopefully be addressed soon. I experienced muddiness when making Bluetooth calls in the Q60, and also in a QX30 I drove recently. It’s a common issue for me in Infinitis but I need to note that the same issue doesn’t exist with my wife’s phone. I have an LG G4, she has a new Samsung, so both Android. When shopping, make sure you see if your phone is affected. A software update on either end is a likely future fix.

Once I became accustomed to the shortcut buttons, I found the system really easy to use, but I spent four days in winter in Canada not realizing there was a heated steering wheel. It’s only accessible on the touchscreen after you press the Climate button on the centre stack, and unlike FCA products which have the same issue, it doesn’t show up automatically on start-up.

The other thing that doesn’t happen automatically in Nissan/Infiniti products? Unlocking the door. This is the only company in the industry that doesn’t unlock the door automatically after two tugs on the latch. Most will do it after one figuring, quite rightly, that if you’re pulling on your door handle you probably want to get out of the damned car!

Instead, you have to hit the “unlock” button, then unlock the door. In other Nissans/Infinitis it will do it if the car is in park. In some the engine has to be off as well. In this Q60, it wouldn’t unlock the doors at all, period, unless you hit that button. Imagine fumbling for that button as your car fills with water after crashing into a lake? Or during a sudden fire? Or to escape because you’ve stalled on train tracks? Getting out of a car is something that should never, ever, be impeded.

This is dangerous, maddeningly irritating and as I’ve said in every review of a Nissan or Infiniti I’ve ever written – a clear example of over-conservative company lawyers doing real damage to a car with their approach. I’ve been given feedback in the past from the company that you can change it in the settings – but I’ve never once found that setting, and I wonder how many owners would dig through their manuals to find it.

And yet, I adore this car. Maybe I’m shallow. Maybe I’ve been seduced by the sultry curves of a well-executed design. Or perhaps I’m enamoured by the noises that erupt under me when I plunge my right foot toward the firewall.

The 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 quite literally sweeps me off my feet. From the supportive seats to the sex appeal and the stunning great twin-turbo V6, all flaws and foibles are forgiven.

2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD
Engine Displacement: 3.0L
Engine Cylinders: V6
Peak Horsepower: 400 hp @ 6,400 rpm
Peak Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 1,600–5,200 rpm
Fuel Economy: 12.5/9.2/11.0 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space: 246 L
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD
Base Price $60,990
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,995
Price as Tested $67,285
Optional Equipment $4,200 – Technology Package $3,200; tinted clear-coat paint $1,000
Optional Equipment
Scoring breakdowns 7.8
9 Styling
10 Powertrain
8 Quality
9 Comfort
6 Practicality
8 Drivability
7 Usability/Ergonomics
7 Fuel Economy
7 Features
7 Value