Expert Review:New Car Test Drive
New Car Test Drive
The 2014 Infiniti Q60 lineup comprises what were previously known as G37 coupes and G37 convertibles. These cars deliver an enjoyable, enthusiast-oriented driving experience thanks to their rear-wheel-drive layout and sport tuning.
Powered by Nissan's 3.7-liter V6, Infiniti Q60 coupes and convertibles are built on a sports car platform oriented around rear-wheel drive and equipped with suspensions tuned for handling. Their share some of their basic structure and engineering with the Nissan Z and share its sporty performance and handling characteristics, though they have longer wheelbases.
A special Infiniti Performance Line is available in the form of the Q60 IPL Coupe and Q60 IPL Convertible featuring modifications throughout the vehicle: engine tuning, suspension, wheels and tires, technology, exterior enhancements and special colors, interior features and trim.
For 2014, the Q60 Coupe is available in five models: Q60 Coupe Journey, Q60 Coupe AWD, Q60S Coupe 6MT, Q60 IPL Coupe, and Q60 IPL Coupe 6MT. The 2014 Q60 Convertible is available in three models, Q60 Convertible, Q60S Convertible 6MT, and Q60 IPL Convertible.
The 3.7-liter V6 engine is powerful and it's calibrated for the response and excitement enthusiast drivers prefer. Rear-wheel drive delivers handling characteristics front-wheel drive rarely matches. All-wheel drive is available for greatly improved traction in snow and rain, helping tame the power the Q60 coupe can otherwise deliver to the rear wheels.
The 7-speed automatic transmission the comes on most Q60 models is tuned for sporting response, with steering wheel paddles for manual shifting and downshift rev matching. The available 6-speed manual transmission is a rare feature in this class and suggests the sporting character of these cars.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 19/27 mpg City Highway, or 22 mpg Combined, for the Q60 Coupe Journey with 7-speed automatic. The 6-speed manual or all-wheel drive reduce those EPA ratings by one to two miles per gallon. All Q60 models call for Premium gasoline.
The Q60 Convertible's V6 produces 325 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. The Q60 Coupe has slightly more power, rated at 330 horsepower at 7000 rpm and 270 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. The Q60 IPL Convertible is rated at 343 hp at 7400 rpm, 273 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. The Q60 IPL Coupe is rated at 348 hp at 7400 rpm, 276 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm.
Infiniti Q60 models have features expected in this category, including leather upholstery, superb audio, and HID headlamps. The Infiniti hard drive navigation system features enhanced graphics, touchscreen, Lane Guidance, 3D building graphics, Zagat Survey restaurant reviews, voice recognition and other features. Instrumentation is first rate, and climate, audio and navigation systems are easy to understand and control.
These are sporty cars intended for two people with room for four in a pinch. Rear-seat room is restricted and adults will not be happy in the back seats for more than a very short drive to the neighborhood restaurant.
The IPL Coupe's unique exterior includes a front and rear bumper/fascia design with integrated fog lights and black finishers, sculpted side sills, rear spoiler and chrome exhaust tips and exclusive 19-inch IPL split 7-spoke graphite-finish wheels and low-profile W-rated Bridgestone Potenza RE50A summer performance tires.
The Infiniti Q60 Convertible looks a lot like the coupe until a button on the console is pressed. Then it becomes a wide-open cabriolet in about 30 seconds, its three-piece hardtop folding into the rear. The convertible features a 13-speaker Bose Open Air sound system that automatically adjusts audio levels according to vehicle speed and ambient noise. Its climate control system adjusts fan speed based on vehicle speed when the top is open.
There are no significant changes for the 2014 model year. The current-generation coupe was last redesigned for 2008, the convertible for 2009. The interior was upgraded for 2010.
Infiniti Q60 models compete with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, and Audi A4. The Infiniti models generally deliver more value than the German models.
The 2014 Infiniti Q60 is available as a two-door coupe or two-door convertible. All are powered by a 3.7-liter V6, with either a 7-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is available for the Q60 coupe.
Infiniti Q60 models come standard with dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, power front seats, aluminum trim, climate control, power windows/locks/mirrors, intelligent key, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 18-inch alloy wheels, bi-xenon headlamps, fog lamps and XM radio, rearview monitor, auto on/off headlamps, heated front seats and mirrors, eight-way power passenger seat, USB/iPod, HomeLink and Bluetooth.
Safety features on all models include two-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for front passengers and front and rear side-curtain airbags on coupe, and door-mounted front-side curtain airbags on convertible. The electronic stability system is dubbed Vehicle Dynamic Control. The convertible has pop-up roll hoops behind the rear seat for rollover protection. All-wheel drive can enhance safety in adverse conditions with more stable handling. A rearview camera can help the driver spot a child or pedestrian behind the car when backing up.
The Infiniti Q60 coupe and convertible have similar exterior dimensions and an identical wheelbase. They share the same chassis, and their basic structure is shared with the Nissan 370Z and other Nissan and Infiniti models. From the side or three-quarter view the coupe and convertible share a mild family resemblance to the shorter, chunkier Nissan Z-car.
The Infiniti Q60 models have a striking look not often mistaken for anything else. The front wheel cutouts are larger than those on earlier models, leaving less metal for the fenders and making them appear to rise even more. The headlight clusters are loaded with separate lenses, yet they're smaller and sexier. Infiniti calls the aluminum hood a wave hood, although the sea looks pretty flat between the bulging shorelines of the fenders.
The Q60 convertible has a power folding-mirror function that pulls the side mirrors up against the glass at the driver's request. The convertible has a unique design from the windshield pillars rearward. It's slightly wider than the coupe, with a modified rear suspension that allows for the top's power mechanism and stowage space behind the rear seat. The convertible has more heavily reinforced windshield pillars, side members and body sills, which help reduce body flex and vibration when motoring with the top down.
When its three-piece steel top is closed, the convertible looks much like the coupe. Its heavily insulated headliner works almost as well as the coupe's fixed roof at keeping ambient noise outside the car. The top takes approximately 30 seconds from start to finish to open or close, initiated with the touch of a button on the center console.
The IPL versions look sharper than the other models at the lower extremities. The front spoiler is deeper and squarer at the edges. At the rear, a pair of tailpipe barrels almost five inches in diameter.
The overall quality of Infiniti interiors continues to increase. They're much better suited to the luxury class than they once were and lean more toward contemporary design than traditional wood and warmth.
Generally, the Q60 cabin is lively and friendly without being fussy or overly busy. There are features aplenty, tempered by a focus on function and connecting the driver to the car. The materials, fit and finish are good, though we are still not enamored with the graining on some of the harder plastics.
Getting in and out of a Q60 coupe or convertible is a bit more difficult than with a sedan, particularly if your driveway has a significant slant. The doors on the two-door models are long and heavy. The slightest incline can make it difficult to lock them in the open position, and they want to fall closed.
The perforated leather seats are comfortable, and the standard eight-way driver's seat has adjustable lumbar support. The sport seats in the IPL models have more adjustment and bigger bolsters on the back and bottom cushions and are fully capable of containing the driver while exploiting the car's winding road capabilities.
The three-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in hand-stitched perforated leather, with audio and cruise control buttons on its spokes. Paddle shifters for the automatic transmission are magnesium, and they are attached to the column and not the wheel so their position never changes. That isn't the case with many cars, where shifting during busy maneuvers can be difficult. We like the shift sequence: Pull back on the right paddle for upshifts, pull back on the left for downshifts.
The dashboard and center console design is the same for both body styles, with slight variation in the front door-panel designs. The dash applies Infiniti's double wave theme, and the company's signature analog clock sits front and center in the center stack of controls. The aluminum trim is called Shodo, inspired by the traditional art of Japanese calligraphy, and it's elegant. Yet the subtly etched Silk Obi aluminum in the convertible is very beautiful. A high-gloss maple trim is optional, while special editions may have red-tone maple.
Gauges feature electroluminescent lighting: white needles and numbers on a black background with violet highlights. An easy-to-read information display shows useful trip functions such as fuel mileage, average speed, elapsed time, running distance and distance to empty, as well as outside air temperature, odometer, and warning displays; the switches for this display are on the sides of the instrument hood.
The center stack falls from a high-resolution LED screen that displays climate and audio data or navigation information. The stereo and climate controls are located out in the open below the information screen, with our preferred layout of audio on top and climate below. The design is attractive and very good from the functional perspective, though some would prefer the knobs for volume and temperature were larger or not identical.
The navigation system is controlled by a mouse-like knob below the screen, by touching the screen itself for some functions, or by voice commands. Infiniti's point-and-click device is one of the more effective, least cumbersome interfaces in the luxury class, but it's still more difficult to use than the best touch screens.
The nav screen itself is quite sharp. The map offers a bird's-eye view, which gives a perception of distance by incorporating a horizon and, depending on the available mapping data, three-dimensional building footprints for the local surroundings. It's neat to look at, though many testers prefer the regular overhead view. The XM satellite radio system provides real-time traffic updates on the screen, where available, and the Zagat restaurant guide to the navigation software.
The standard sound system is competitive. The upgrade Bose audio delivers a sound that's richer, fuller, more intricate and crisper than many systems in cars costing thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars more. The Bose Open Air audio in the convertible includes an extra pair of speakers in the front headrests, right behind the ears. It adjusts volume and re-mixes the audio in real time according to ambient noise. The 9.3 gigabyte hard drive will compress and copy about 90 CDs in short order. The audio directory can access music by artist or type.
The Q60 Convertible comes with an adaptive climate control system that automatically adjusts airflow and fan speed based on top position and road speed. Lots of rear glass makes for good rearward visibility. The coupe has quite good outward visibility.
The front door pockets are small, half-taken by armrests, although each includes a hollow for a water bottle. There are also two cupholders behind the shift lever. The center console has been redesigned, and cubby storage includes a respectably sized glove box. The back side of each front seatback has a magazine pouch (unless you order the cooled seats). Two cup holders pop out of the fold-down, rear seat center armrest, which also has a unique compartment masked by a Velcro-type flap on the right side.
Rear-seat headroom and legroom are compromised in these cars, and is suitable only for kids or smaller adults. The driveshaft hump runs high between the two rear seats, and there's a wide crack between the seatback and seat cushion that might get uncomfortable over the miles. Access to the back seats in both coupe and convertible is eased by a power walk-in device with position memory. In both, the front seatbacks tilt forward with a lever and then move forward automatically at the touch of a button to ease entry/exit.
Trunk space in the Q60 Coupe is limited, with 7.4 cubic feet and no hatchback versatility. A folding rear seatback improves things by allowing larger items to flow from the trunk into the passenger space, and it explains that notable crack between the back and bottom cushion when the rear seatback is upright.
The Q60 Convertible offers competitive trunk space when compared with other cars in the class, with 10.3 cubic feet, but only with the roof up. With the top down there is two cubic feet of space so the open-top trunk becomes the back seat. So on longer trips, you may be forced to keep the top up. The convertible's top works easily and without a hitch, but we wish it would operate when the car is rolling at moderate speeds (up to 15-25 mph), as the tops do in many convertibles.
Sporty handling and a willing engine make the Infiniti Q60 Coupe and Q60 Convertible models exhilarating to drive. These are cars intended to be driven. And the IPL models have a performance edge, a rawness, that sets them apart. The Infiniti Q60 models do not match Lexus levels of quietness, smoothness, finish and refinement.
On a straight, open road, the Q60 cruises comfortably, quietly and so stable that little driver input is needed to the steering wheel. The suspension is taut and compliant, not nearly as soft as many mid-luxury models, and even the IPL is forgiving enough to drive daily. Only big, sharp bumps transmit ruckus to the cabin, which is magnified on IPL models because of the lower profile tires.
There's little wind noise even at extra-legal speeds. There's more road noise from the larger tire packages than from the standard treads. However, we preferred the added grip and sharper looking appearance of the 19-inch wheels; even with tire replacement costs figured in, we think they're worth the extra cost.
All models are equipped with the same 3.7-liter V6, though the output varies from 325-348 horsepower. These engines make their best power at higher revs, and they're big enough that midrange is more than sufficient to get the job done briskly.
In a 3700-pound car, 330 horsepower delivers strong acceleration. Stand on the gas and the 3.7-liter V6 willingly and heartily rev to levels normally associated with smaller, less complex engines, right up to maximum rpm. And the character is as important as sheer performance. In contrast, BMW's turbo 3-liter brings 300-plus horsepower and better torque for urban drivability, Audi's 2-liter turbo makes almost as much torque but not the revving horsepower, and Lexus's and Acura's 3.5-3.7 liter V6s deliver 300-306 hp, with torque similar to the Infiniti's.
The 7-speed automatic transmission enables hard acceleration, with two overdrives for more relaxed highway cruising. It does its job casually at part-throttle and briskly when you're in a hurry. If the driver moves the stubby leather-wrapped shift lever to the left, however, Sport mode is engaged. The upshifts come at higher rpm, upshifts and downshifts are quicker, it rev-matches downshifts, and it downshifts automatically under moderate-to-heavy braking.
The front-midship layout of the Q60, with the engine set farther back behind the front axle, is inherently well balanced. The Q60 has a planted, sure-footed feeling that comes from proper tuning, not extra weight or electronics masking inherent deficiencies. The speed-sensitive power steering is seamless. It turns precisely into corners, with no dead spots through a long curve, and is sensitive enough to feel and make very small changes.
The brakes are smooth, predictable, and the car is rock steady under heavy braking, inspiring confidence in any driver. They're also sensitive, and when you jump on them they grab, so it takes a little time to develop the technique for smooth application. The IPL models come with bigger brakes than the others for less fade in repeated hard applications.
A Q60 convertible feels like a sports car because of the wind in your hair and exhaust note filling your ears, but it's not as sporty in terms of outright performance as the coupe. There are two primary reasons: One, when you take the top off a car that does not have a separate frame (like some exotics) the body loses some of its stiffness, which means the suspension can't be as precisely tuned because the structure it's bolted to isn't as rigid. With the top up in a Q60 convertible you'll hear this on twisting driveway entries as the roof sections move against their rubber sleeves ever so slightly, and top down, the windshield will shudder more on rough roads, an effect you can easily see by glancing at the rear view mirror.
The other reason a convertible doesn't perform as well as a coupe is weight. The power folding hardtop apparatus and the additional body framing added to improve rigidity add weight. Long before cars were around, Newton figured out the laws of equal and opposite reactions, and a heavier car simply doesn't change direction as quickly and easily as a lighter car does, all other things being equal. The convertible offers the same nice steering, engine and transmissions as the coupe, but is better suited to touring than race tracks.
The Q60 Coupe AWD features Infiniti's ATESSA E-TS all-wheel-drive system monitors data such as wheel spin, throttle position and vehicle speed, and automatically diverts up to 50 percent of the engine's power to the front wheels, improving traction and control when road conditions are less than optimal. Yet in ideal conditions, when the road is smooth and dry, the all-wheel-drive system still sends all of the power to the rear wheels, preserving the G's sporty rear-drive handling characteristics.
The Q60S 6MT models are very good at the limit. Pushing harder, over remote, twisty, smooth curves in a coupe, we felt the standard limited-slip differential and stability electronics (VDC) at work. Or rather, we saw the VDC working thanks to a light on the dash. The corrections are beautifully subtle. You can pitch the G37 to a ridiculous point, and the VDC just gently won't allow the car to get out of shape. It doesn't tell you how wrong you were, by cutting engine power for too long, like some electronic stability controls do. We like the conventional 6-speed manual on the Q60S Coupe 6MT. Gear selection is precise, requiring moderate effort in keeping with the performance nature. Clutch operation is heavier than we expect in a sport coupe, heavier than in a Honda, and more in line with a V8-powered muscle car, but the engagement is easy to modulate so traffic jams aren't an unbearable nuisance.
Q60 IPL models are even sportier. They feel like a gentleman's 370Z, even with an automatic transmission, because the 7-speed manual automatic with beautiful magnesium paddle shifters is worthy. Its programming is true.
The exhaust system of the IPL has been loosened up, and the electronics have been retuned to raise horsepower to 348. The BMW M3 offers more power, but it's much more expensive. The exhaust note is a distinctive howl from midrange up, with a deep purr at low rpm. It sounds fantastic with the engine prancing around in its loony upper octaves. But droning in traffic or loping down the highway left us wishing for a little more quiet from the vehicle's underbelly.
Where the IPL feels small compared to super coupes is in its torque, 276 foot-pounds, peaking at 5200 rpm. In some ways, often fun ways, the engine feels like a Japanese sport bike. It makes its full horsepower up there at a screaming 7400 rpm, and with the high torque peak, the engine loves to be kept screaming. It doesn't love to lug. In any event, you know you've got hot acceleration under the hood, with a 0-60 mph time in the low 5-second range. Power is delivered to the rear wheels via a viscous limited-slip differential.
IPL brakes are massive, with 14-inch rotors pressed by four-piston calipers up front and 13.8-inch discs and dual-piston calipers out back, which serve to scrub speed in a big hurry under hard braking. IPL springs are firmer, for more precise handling, and it works. We ran the IPL through our favorite curves, hard as we could reasonably and safely go, and it put a smile on our face. Responsive and tight; precise turn-in, and poise in swwitchbacks. Love that rear-wheel drive. However the ride is compromised by the firmer suspension. Despite comfortable seats, you can feel the freeway expansion joints.
IPL spring rates and dampers are firmed up 20 percent in front and 10 percent in the rear, while steering, tires, brakes, differential, the rest of the mechanicals, are sport-package grade. The firmer spring rates add control without making the ride feel anywhere near 20-percent harsher. The IPL is meant to add performance without going as far (and pricey) as BMW's M, Mercedes's AMG, or Lexus's F divisions.
The Infiniti Q60 coupes and convertibles excel at driving dynamics. The interiors are friendly and feature-laden without being too busy. They are priced lower than most comparably equipped European competitors. We think they're a good choice for performance-oriented drivers.
NewCarTestDrive.com correspondent J. P. Vettraino reported from Detroit, with Sam Moses in the Columbia River Gorge, Tom Lankard in Lenox, Massachusetts, and G.R. Whale in Northern California. New Car Test Drive editor Mitch McCullough contributed to this report.
Infiniti Q60 Coupe Journey ($40,950); Q60 Coupe AWD ($42,600); Q60S Coupe 6MT ($46,050); Q60 IPL Coupe ($53,650); Q60 IPL Coupe 6MT ($51,750); Q60 Convertible ($48,550); Q60S Convertible 6MT ($53,400); Q60 IPL Convertible ($62,100).
Options As Tested
Infiniti Q60 IPL Coupe ($53,650).
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