The all-new Infiniti Q60 enters with the promise of glamorous lines and muscular proportions – but, in 2.0t form, does it offer much else?
This is it. This, the 2017 Infiniti Q60, is the Hong Kong-based, America-focused, Japanese luxury brand's new "it" car.
Well, almost. For many looking closely at the Q60, the 3.0-litre turbo V6 model that will be here in March is the "it" car. But, even in its '2.0t' 2.0-litre turbo form, this new-generation Q60 is the dramatic new coupe that ought to put Infiniti properly on the map in this country.
And in fact, the 2.0-litre model shown to Australian media this week is expected to be more than enough "it" car for most buyers, given that it's almost identical to its more powerful sibling – but more than $25,000 cheaper to get into.
Replacing the nearly 10-year-old Q60 coupe that launched here as the G37 in 2013, this new model first appeared as a concept in January last year. Almost exactly a year later, the growing luxury marque unveiled the arresting production car you see here, and we had our first taste – in 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 form – just last month.
Let's talk looks. 'Style is subjective' disclaimer out of the way, I'm ready to say: this is a mighty fine-looking thing. As muscular and imposing as its Japanese compatriot the Lexus RC, the new Q60 appeals to my preference for elegant and traditional lines in a way the 'big toy' styling of the RC can't.
The new 2017 Q60 is what you get when you take the Q50 sedan's design themes and, well, get it right. Because, where the Q50 offers little to inspire a passionate response, the new Q60 is serenading you before you've even opened the door.
Interestingly, Infiniti itself – through the vessel of local boss Jean-Philippe Roux – concedes almost proudly that the best reason to buy this new-generation coupe may just be its looks, which puts it somewhere between the muscular 4 Series and the curvy C-Class Coupe. (Technology was also highlighted as a selling point, but there's no pretending a Q60 buyer can option half of what will be offered in the new Audi A5.)
Does the Q60 have more to offer than a compelling look, or has Infiniti simply shoved a pair of rolled-up socks down the big coupe's underoos? We'll get to that later.
Launching from $62,900 before on-road costs, the well-specified Q60 is neatly positioned. It's an even $1000 more affordable than its very old predecessor, and $6000 cheaper than the most affordable – and less powerful – BMW 4 Series, the 420i.
For those that care for such things, the Q60 2.0t offers more power than all but one of its most direct rivals: the still-quite-new Lexus RC200t, the relatively new 420i, the even newer Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupe, and the soon-to-be-replaced Audi A5.
Driving the Q60 2.0t is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, sourced through parent company Nissan's technology partnership with Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler.
Outputs are listed at 155kW of power at 5500rpm and 350Nm of torque between 1250-3500rpm. The engine is shared with the Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport 4Matic, among others, and the figures are just about identical. (The Merc, updated recently, now makes 160kW.)
Matched to a seven-speed torque-converter automatic transmission and a rear-wheel drive configuration, the Q60 2.0t lists fuel use at 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle, with a sharp-enough 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds. (We did not have the chance to test the latter during the launch event, but we will.)
Below, a quick by-the-numbers glance at its rivals.
420i – 135kW/270Nm 2.0 4cyl, 7.5sec, 5.8L/100km ($68,900)
C200 Coupe – 135kW/300Nm 2.0 4cyl, 7.3sec, 6.0L/100km ($65,900)
RC200t – 180kW/350Nm 2.0 4cyl, 7.5sec, 7.3L/100km ($65,090)
A5 – 130kW/320Nm 1.8 4cyl, 8.4sec, 6.2L/100km ($68,200)
Q60 2.0GT – 1698kg
420i – 1495kg
C200 Coupe – 1525kg
RC200t – 1725kg
A5 – 1600kg
The Q60 is notably heavier than the BMW, Mercedes, and even the relatively hefty Audi A5 (although the incoming new one is 60kg lighter), but it is at least a touch lighter than the RC.
As is often the case, all four 2.0-litre examples from this set claim comparable fuel-consumption figures (the Q60's figure is highest), and all are fairly even on the 0-100km/h time.
So, as far as bragging rights go, the likely Q60 2.0t buyer might be best served focusing on the looks – particularly as, unlike those considering the other brands, they won't really have a great deal of brand cachet to lean on.
Away from the engine but still beneath the skin, the new Q60 2.0t gets a double-wishbone set-up with coilovers at the front, matched to a multi-link arrangement at the rear. There's also stabiliser bars at both ends.
Steering is, unlike the steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system in the 3.0-litre model, an electro-hydraulic set-up.
Behind the all-round 19x9.0-inch wheels and 255/40 R19 run-flat tyres are two-piston calipers and 330mm discs at the front and single-piston caliper 316mm discs at the rear.
Incidentally, those 19-inch wheels are standard fit across the range, giving the entry-level Q60 a small styling edge.
Standout standard features include dusk-sensing and auto-levelling LED headlights with integrated LED daytime lights, LED front fog lights and LED brake lights (that's a lot of LEDs), remote keyless entry and window opening, auto wipers and dual chrome exhaust tips. Adaptive front lighting with high-beam assist is available as an option, as is a powered sliding/tilt sunroof.
Moving inside, there's the familiar arched dash shape that Infiniti has persisted with for more than two generations now, the centre console reaching up and branching out like a tree across the front of the cabin.
The design is largely mirrored from the Q50 sedan, but where it might feel dowdy and old-fashioned in the sedan, here it offers a 'retro cool' vibe to accompany the classic lines of the Q60's exterior.
Unlike the Q50, the more specifically sports-styled Q60 gets an appropriately redesigned steering wheel, with a more compact horn pad and slimmer spokes, including a slender silver forked shape down the centre. Oddly, the tiller is perhaps the most premium-looking aspect of the cabin, and its leather trim is as nice in the hand as it ought to be for this segment.
Infiniti's stacked display set-up features again, with the relatively low-resolution 7.0-inch bottom screen acting largely as a switch panel and the higher-quality 8.0-inch top screen best used as an information display. Users have the ability to access email and calendar functions, synced with their phones, along with native Facebook and Google apps.
A third, narrow, portrait-shaped multi-information display sits between the speedo and tacho, offering the usual assortment of fuel use and trip details, driving aids, radio and outside temperature details.
Infiniti's 'InTouch' infotainment system features satellite navigation and live SUNA traffic updates, along with voice recognition for audio and phone controls. Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity is standard, as is a rear-view camera. (A 360-degree Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection system is also available, but only with the optional Enhancement Pack.)
Operating the InTouch system can mean working your way through menus that might feel unnecessarily deep, and the rotary control dial in the centre console isn't a pinch on BMW's iDrive (seemingly the eternal benchmark). Audi's system is likewise superior, but InTouch is arguably no less intuitive to use than Mercedes' COMAND or the Lexus system.
Entertainment is delivered via a six-speaker setup, but the aforementioned Enhancement pack adds a 13-speaker Bose Performance Series audio system "with Advanced Staging Technology and AudioPilot 2.0 Noise Compensation".
In both cases, there's USB connectivity for media devices, and DAB+ digital radio. The increasingly common Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both absent, but Infiniti assures us it's working on it.
Standard safety kit includes six airbags – driver and passenger front and side impact airbags, and roof-mounted curtain airbags with a rollover sensor – and pedestrians benefit from a pop-up bonnet.
There's also predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking with pedestrian detection and pre-crash seatbelt technology, brake assist, advanced vehicle dynamic control (VDC) with traction control system (TCS), and tyre pressure monitoring.
Most surfaces in the cabin feel premium, made up of quality leather, metallic finishes and solid plastics. Nothing in here would put a single one of its rivals to shame – and perhaps Infiniti should have worked harder to match the well-regarded cabin trims of the Mercedes, Lexus and Audi offerings – but there is plenty here to like. That said, once I spotted the misaligned join between the centre console and centre stack, I couldn't look away. There's also no denying that some of the buttons and switches have an obvious Nissan heritage.
Front-row comfort in the four-seat Q60 is catered for with bucket sports seats wrapped in an impressive and genuine semi-aniline leather, with each seat featuring eight-way power adjustment. The driver's seat also gets electric lumbar support.
The front seats are snugly bolstered without being all-embracing – as befits a cruise-focused grand tourer – with the seat bases offering good thigh support for this 176cm (alright, 175cm) writer.
There's a foot-operated park brake, but, as archaic as the design is and as much as my colleagues despise its presence in a premium offering, I confess I'm not fussed. (That said, there is an argument to be made that the design represents an ergonomic issue, potentially releasing the brake if you push your foot down in the wrong spot and maybe giving your shin a nasty scrape if you lift your foot too quickly from the footwell resting plate. Then there's the potential for further injury in a crash…)
Rear comfort is good, especially for the type of car where one would normally describe the back seats as a glorified parcel shelf. Here, we're offered a surprisingly accommodating space with good legroom and shoulder room, and decent-for-the-segment headroom. Wear a hat, though – the deep seats and long rear window mean you'll have the sun glaring down directly onto your dome.
Behind the folding two-seater second row is 342 litres of luggage space, which is bested by the 4 Series (445 litres), the RC (423) and C-Class (400). Along with its comparatively small storage space, there's also a very high loading lip at the rear, which could prove frustrating.
On the move, the Q60 2.0t lives up to its "well, it looks good" image. There are few wows and oh-yesses to be found in its acceleration, but if you were to judge this book by its cover – as I suspect many in its target market will, and rightly so – that won't matter one iota.
For Infiniti, the Q60 2.0t's 155kW/350Nm turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine first appeared in the 1646kg Q50 sedan – but it was earlier launched in the lighter (1440kg) Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport, where it can more easily live up to some sort of performance promise. (It does, of course, feature in a handful of other Mercs.)
Here in the nearly-1700kg Q60, the four's performance is far from scintillating, but it is a willing unit that ought to prove neatly, perfectly, adequate for the intended buyer. It may never set hearts on fire, and its bland exhaust note won't have anyone swooning, but as a stylish cruiser with a bit of pace thrown in, the Q60 should never feel underwhelming.
Like most entry-engine offerings, this is indeed a car built to a purpose at the opposite end of its flagship siblings: style over power, and market sales figures show very well that most buyers are content with that weighting. Many also prefer a less thirsty alternative to the high-powered flagships.
The small turbo engine sends its go to the rear wheels through a seven-speed auto, equipped with four drive modes: Standard, Snow, Sport and Personal. Like most, the shifter's Standard mode is clearly focused on hanging out in the higher gears for reduced fuel use – which it does without fuss or annoyance in regular urban driving, but switching to Sport mode will quickly sharpen things up if that's the order of the day.
Fuel consumption is listed at 7.7L/100km, but we averaged 10.9L/100km during the media launch, with some amount of spirited driving and seat-swapping in the mix. A proper week-long test, with combined urban and highway driving, should offer a more realistic result.
Infiniti's launch route took us from the Yarra Valley in the outer east of Melbourne and through the winding, often pock-marked tourist roads of Glenburn and Kinglake, across the north through Whittlesea toward beautiful Mount Macedon in the northwest, before making a run for Melbourne via Sunbury.
The coupe's naturally firm suspension set-up enables some confidence in corners, but, as you might expect in a car of the Q60's heft, its weight is never more obvious than in the corners and it can't quite be described as agile. The Q60 is not as nimble as the 4 Series, but the light engine plays its part, allowing the car to knuckle-down on the road to some degree.
Likewise, the wide wheels and tyres help to secure grip, but the 19-inch diameter and rigid run-flat design of the tyres don't add much to the comfort stakes.
Sport mode also invokes Active Trace Control, a Nissan system that adjusts braking and torque to help draw the right line through corners. As something of a torque-vectoring system, you can feel it at work - but on its own isn't quite enough to transform the Q60 into a gymnast.
The new Q60 coupe's electric power steering, although not the disconnected experience found in models equipped with the company's Digital Adaptive Steering set-up, feels nonetheless uninvolving in standard mode.
Sport mode quickens the rack and increases weight well enough, delivering faster turn-in, and relatively direct feel and feedback – but certainly nothing you could describe as engaging.
In terms of ownership, the Q60 is backed by a four-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty. Scheduled servicing intervals are every 12 months or 25,000 kilometres (whichever occurs first). Service pricing is still to be confirmed.
In all, the Q60 2.0t GT has plenty going for it, particularly with buyers focused more on style and overall comfort than in instant brand cred and thrilling performance.
This is a well-equipped coupe that will let you look the part, and, if you're prepared to defend the badge and the near German-rivalling price tag, should make you feel good about it.
Importantly, the 155kW Q60 2.0t GT is more than up to the part when it comes to daily driving and, for those not regularly exposed to more powerful fare – a fairly rare individual outside of this gig – Infiniti's new coupe should prove fun and fulfilling.
If you need more, and want the Q60's looks, there's always the 298kW 3.0tt model that will be here next year. But be ready to shell out another $26k, plus costs – and that DAS steer-by-wire system won't be to everyone's tastes.