Wednesday, June 14, 2017


According to Shakespeare, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Maybe that works in cases of love — the quote is from Romeo and Juliet, in case you missed that lit class — but maybe not so much when it comes to automobiles.

Consider, for example, the Infiniti Q60.

When introduced as a G35 replacing the outdated G20 in the company’s lineup, it played to generally good reviews. Car & Driver’s Aaron Robinson wrote: “The G35 coupe is the most appealing article to slide down the Infiniti chute since the original Q.”

When it morphed into the G37 because of its slightly bigger engine, the G37 coupe still carried a lot of verve. The anonymous reviewer for called the 2008 G37 coupe “a hoot to drive” while praising the interior for its abundance of quality materials and high-tech features offered.

Then a couple of years ago, when the company announced its policy of labeling its cars with a “Q” designation and its SUVs “QX” followed by a number corresponding to the vehicle’s place in the overall lineup, the G37 coupe became the Q60 and the G37 sedan the Q50.

So what do we hear about the redesigned 2017 Q60?

Well, the U.S. News & World Report’s usual analysis of reviews of luxury small cars rates the Q60 no better than tied for 18th with the Acura ILX and Buick Cascada in a field of 20 luxury small cars. Not that it is a bad car, the magazine notes. Just that in such high class competition, it rates as merely “OK.”

When it comes to performance, Autoblog says the Q60 “underwhelms,” and the New York Daily News groans that “despite its performance-oriented specifications, gorgeous body, and promise of a relaxed driving experience, it’s still tough to get excited about the new 2017 Infiniti Q60.”

At least Automobile Magazine had good things to say about the “clean and elegant finish” of the interior.

So what happened? Did Nissan engineers and designers take a dose of stupid pills along with the name change?

I don’t think so.

After spending a week in the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with 17 cars to put ahead of it in its class.

First, it has the inherent sexiness of a coupe’s profile. You can even see a familial resemblance to parent company Nissan’s 370Z sports coupe in its profile.

Next, inside it has the requisite luxury leather and niceties for its segment, like some carbon fiber trim touches. Door handles are placed at a convenient spot, and the steering wheel and shift lever get the full leather treatment.

Riders in front get up to 43.1 inches of legroom while the two in the back, who are separated by a mini-console featuring two small cupholders and a small flat space for, um, well I’m not really sure that it would be for, get 35.1 inches of legroom and, despite the sloping roofline, 34.5 inches of headroom.

Infiniti calls the overall theme for the cabin “driver-centric” and “passenger-minded.” I call it elegant and comfortable.

The center stack features two screens for operation of Infiniti’s In-Touch infotainment system. This cleans up the dash from an excessive number of buttons and knobs, but it doesn’t make for the most intuitive of operating systems. Also, without the available navigation system, the top screen has a rather bland look about it that takes away from the overall appeal of the flowing dash design.

The powertrain is where the Q60 really delivers.

The Red Sport 400 that served as my test vehicle came with a new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine tuned to 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, which folks running the website clocked at 4.5 seconds from zero to 60 mph.

With that engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the Red Sport’s fuel mileage ratings are 20 miles-per-gallon city, 27 highway, and 22 combined, though the computer showed that I was getting closer to 24 in mostly around-town driving.

A 300-hp V6 and 2.0-liter 4-banger rated at 208 horsepower are the other engine choices in the Q60 portfolio.

Starting MSRP for the 2017 Q60 is $39,855 (including destination and delivery) for the Q60 2.0t with rear-wheel drive. The top-of-the-line Q60 Red Sport 400 checks in at $52,205. All-wheel drive adds $2,000 to the MSRP.

What I liked about the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400: Set in Sport-Plus (one of six driving modes along with Standard, Sport, Personal, Snow, and Eco) it delivers a fun driving experience. Some reviews criticize it for poor steering feedback, but I have found that’s not uncommon for steer-by-wire systems. I experienced no issues.

What I didn’t like about the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400: Though the system responded quickly and accurately with voice commands, the operation of the In Touch system overall could use some fine-tuning. I happen to like the two-screen approach (some don’t) but the steps for the various functions need a review to make it more intuitive.

Would I buy the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400? Yes. The small luxury segment is a competitive one with lots of good choices, but the Q60 needs to be on your list if you are shopping in the segment.

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