Mountain Wheels; Futuristic AWD Infiniti Q60 eats up the road
Anyone interested in experiencing the crossover point between nearly autonomous, almost entirely electronic driving and an old-fashioned, high-horsepower, sports car hellfest will have a hoot in the all-new Infiniti Q60.
The great grandchild of all that legendary Datsun/Nissan Z-car frivolity, the 2017 rendition of the Q60 is an entirely reconfigured two-door sports coupe that mixes up some very expressive and ahead-of-the-curve styling with a wide variety of engine choices.
Just to prove we were not messing around, I got to sample the hottest of the bunch, the Red Sport’s twin-turbo V6 which generates a blistering 400 horsepower and is one of the fastest Japanese-import cars I’ve ever driven, this side of a GT-R.
As a friendly concession to mountain dwellers, that BMW-beating engine can also be ordered up with an intelligent all-wheel-drive system (standard setup is a very sporty rear-wheel-drive arrangement), allowing that power to give you at least the semblance of all-season utility.
Q60’s other attributes may not exactly scream snow car, especially as it’s been largely reimagined with a wider and lower stance than the old model, and a front fascia and under-nose aerodynamic setup that’s curb-hugging and very, very striking. A snow mode on the multiple-selective drive mode controller suggests Infiniti wants you think about it as a year-round car.
Two long and heavy doors also necessitate large parking spots for truly comfortable entries and exits and the yoga-styled moves required for rear passengers to access an incredibly deep and sporty set of rear seats, headrest-free for better rear visibility. Up-front seating is equally deep and very aggressively side-bolstered.
That improved rear viewscape is useful for those who might be inclined, as I was, to keep an eye on what happens with 400 HP of nearly instantaneous power. The world behind you disappears very, very quickly and without much coaxing, the Q60 can easily double the posted limits, and keep going.
Maybe you’re not that much of a speed demon (though that V6 will still get you 26 MPG on the highway, amazingly); Q60’s more restrained choices include a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo good for 208 HP and a twin-turbo V6 with a slightly less dangerous 300 horses.
No matter the variant, you’re going to enjoy very sporty handling and ride. The 19-inch-wheels and wider tires on the higher-end Red Sport edition gave me a bit of a floaty feel on rutted out pavement, but canyon adventures will no doubt be a gas, and the new electronically aided Dynamic Digital Suspension system can also considerably modify the ride character. Four-piston, oversized sport brakes up front also add to your stopping ability.
As mentioned earlier, you can also press the magic force-field button on the steering wheel and, not unlike your favorite Star Wars ship, the Q60 will be imbued with a technological suite of reasonably intrusive safety aids that will do a significant amount of the driving for you – cool or unpleasant as you may feel that to be. This also includes automatic rear braking.
While the system’s ability to intuitively buffer you in stop-and-go traffic has always been pretty cool, the lane-keep software is now pretty intrusive – and should, I caution, be disabled when doing the inadvisable higher-speed stuff the 400-HP engine compels you to do, as you do not want to be fighting with a self-guiding wheel while literally flying along. Drive-by-wire steering, part of the optional $1,000 direct adaptive steering system, also sounds ominous but cuts down on the mechanical parts and makes inputs virtually instantaneous.
Flying is an appropriate metaphor for the Q60’s looks, with new ultra-contoured body lines that make it look a lot like a modern Mercedes. There are also curiously pronounced aerodynamic fins springing from the rocker panels, striking chrome vents behind the wheels and a wild blend of angularity that makes the car seem like a mash-up of an old Cadillac CTS-V and the rounder old Infiniti products. Even the C-pillar windows get a distinctive crescent shape.
In the high-end model, a 13-speaker Bose Performance audio system is an ear-blasting standard. You can also get some very flashy silver “optic fiber” trim to sex up the cabin and the wraparound dash.
Double-decker screens on the center stack provide text-heavy data overload but luckily navigation inputs are still handled safely through a knob near the gearshifter.
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