When you’re in the market for a premium automobile, Infiniti is probably not a badge that features in the top three. And the Japanese luxury brand has no one but itself to blame for this state of affairs. Launched in 1989 as an upmarket spin-off of Nissan, the marque focused overly at keeping the likes of Lexus and Acura at bay that it overlooked the greater picture that included German heavyweights like Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi. Infiniti’s initial models ended up being nothing more than rebadged Nissans with not much effort made to give it any distinction. However, things have changed, especially since the astute Carlos Ghosn took over the parent company’s reins. A new naming convention, a very distinctive family design language and sustained focus on improving performance credentials have started to pay dividends. Over the last few years, customers also seem to have begun to take note of the upturn in quality and performance in Infiniti vehicles.
The Q60 coupé, one of the latest in Infiniti’s new product offensive, is the perfect embodiment of this new direction. Infiniti entered the premium sports coupé market with the G35 back in 2003, but despite it being a decent attempt, the novice didn’t stand a chance against the 3 Series coupe’, which had a brutal stranglehold on the segment, for good reason. A few years later, the G coupé was upgraded with a bigger 3.7-litre V6, but the 3 Series had also upped its game by then with twin-turbo six-pot and even further improved dynamics. So this time around, Infiniti has come better prepared, with the top-spec Q60S Red Sport 400 now powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6, he same that we loved in the Q50 Red Sport 400 saloon when we tested it early this year.
The new six-pot, dubbed the VR series, replaces the old naturally aspirated, 3.7-litre VQ series V6. Churning out 400 horsepower at 6,400rpm and 475Nm of torque at 1,750rpm, this twin-turbo mill is terrific, and is more powerful than the Mercedes-AMG C43, the Audi S5 and the BMW 440i. And it also stands out from the rest of the cars in the segment with its markedly more flamboyant lines. Once you get past the trifling turbo lag, the surge of power is gracefully effortless. Although the 0-100kph time is 5.0 seconds on paper, acceleration doesn’t feel as vicious or instantaneous as in many of its less powerful rivals. But this could well be partly because of the rather muted exhaust note and the superb cabin insulation. For all its power and twist, the Q60’s automatic transmission disappoints slightly, as it struggles to keep up with the engine’s remarkable output, but this can be dealt with to an extent by using the steering mounted paddles in Sport or Sport+ modes. The Q60S has Infiniti’s updated Direct Adaptive Steering, which despite not being mechanically connected to the front wheels, offers acceptably well-weighted feedback. The response can be further altered by choosing Dynamic and Dynamic+ steering modes via the infotainment screen.
The double-wishbone front and a multilink rear axle suspension and adaptive dampers do a great job in keeping the Q60 planted and composed even when pushed hard. The suspension also changes character according to driving modes, which include Snow, Eco, Standard, Sport and Sport+. In the sportier modes, the Q60 rides a bit firm but flick it into Standard mode and it settles into a serene, comfortable ride. In fact it feels more luxurious than many of its rivals, with its particularly well-appointed and plush cabin. It also comes equipped with a suite of driver assistance and safety technologies, such as Forward Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection and Adaptive Lighting among others.
The Q60S Red Sport 400 is by far Infiniti’s most effective stab at the premium sports coupé market. And it most certainly deserves to do better than it historically has. If you’re a potential buyer for a car in this segment, the Q60 is well worth giving a shot, especially as prices start at a reasonable Dh180,000 for the range, which also has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder variant. You’ll likely be surprised at how well it blurs the line between a nimble sports coupé and a grand tourer.