By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
Vancouver to Vancouver to Vancouver – Between our job of writing about cars and our own wanderlust, we have been blessed with extensive travel over the last 25 years. While ocean cruises have become a recent addiction, our favorite excursions are still road trips.
When an interesting car becomes available and our schedule permits we often jump at a chance to hit the road for a few days from our home, near Vancouver, WA to go re-exploring favorite West Coast areas, or on occasion another part of the country.
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 caught our attention recently and when one became available in the press fleet and we quickly decided – Road Trip! One of our favorite destinations is Vancouver, British Columbia and we had a time-share condo available in Blaine, Wash, which is right on the Canadian/US border, so that looked like a natural place to go. It was time for a road trip from Vancouver to Vancouver and back to Vancouver.
We liked the styling of the previous generation of the Infiniti Coupe, the G37, but this new generation, the Q60, is even be better. It’s lower and wider with sculpted lines which make it more distinctive than its predecessor.
Our trip vehicle was the 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400. It’s a big name, but it’s also big on performance, comfort and design. We think it competes favorably with all the cars in a group of outstanding luxury sports coupes including the BMW 4 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A5 and Lexus RC.
There are five Q60 trim levels of the rear-wheel drive coupe: 2.0t, 2.0t Premium, 3.0t Premium, 3.0t Sport and the Red Sport 400; and, we like that all-wheel drive ($2,000) is available on all trim levels. All the models use Infiniti’s excellent seven-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode and rev matching downshift. The Sport trim versions also have standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The 2.0t has a spunky 208 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged direct injection four-cylinder engine. It makes a great car for the person who wants to look good, but doesn’t care as much about performance. It does gets slightly better fuel economy than the available 3.0-liter V-6.
The two 3.0-liter engines are both twin turbo, direct injection V-6s from the Infiniti ‘VR’ powertrain family and are ranked as some of the best V-6 engines in the business. The 3.0t version produces 300 hp while the Red Sport 400 has a peak power of 400 hp thanks to differences in the fuel deliver system, turbocharger boost and few other tweaks. The Red Sport version accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a mere 4.5 seconds and it has a top track speed limited to 150 mph. We tried the rocket-like performance a few times when pulling onto freeway on-ramps and found the acceleration to be smooth and refined, with no discernible turbo lag. This engine is basically a detuned version of the famous Nissan GTR engine.
Driving the Q60 ranked high on our enjoyment level. It’s probably not the best handling in the competitive group, but it’s a strong competitor. It’s a little bit heavy in the nose, but overall felt agile and well balanced. The acceleration had to be used sparingly because this a car that could quickly move into the range of expensive tickets and a major lecture from the co-pilot.
The EPA rates the Red Sport 400 fuel economy at 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. On our Vancouvers Road Trip we averaged 25.8 mpg driving slightly over posted speed limits which means 70 to 75 mph most of the time. The EPA fuel economy ratings are nearly the same for either V-6 engine and front- or all-wheel drive.
An all-new electric suspension system called Dynamic Digital Suspension (DDS) underpins the Q60 Sport models. It is controlled by electronically adjustable dampers which improve ride comfort in normal conditions but stiffing the suspension for improved handling as needed. We were expecting the Q60 to be firm and choppy on some road surfaces but were pleased by how comfortable the ride was, and how well the car cornered. The driver can toggle between soft and firm damper setting using the console mounted Drive Model Selector.
Another new feature to improve handling is the available Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) system. Introduced first in 2013, it is the world’s first digital steering system or drive-by-wire system. There is no mechanical linkage between the steering wheel and tires. The driver can choose from several personalized modes, based on driving conditions. You can learn more about this advanced system on line at: http://infinitinews.com/media_storage/images/DASinfo.pdf .
We found the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 to be a very good road trip car. The seats are comfortable and supportive and the ride was more refined than we expected from a high-performance coupe.
We did have a few minor complaints: the seat belt anchors were fixed and the only way to keep the belt from rubbing on the neck was to awkwardly push the presenter down below the height of the headrest. We would have like the sun visors to adjust in length or have extensions to better block the sun on the sides. Learning Bluetooth idiosyncrasies has always been a challenge with each new car, and with this one we kept losing the connection when we got back into the car…it could have been something Bill was doing wrong. Finally, the front-end air dam is very low, so it had to be watched carefully when parking head-in.
Available safety features included several option packages that equip the Q60 with all the latest technologies. Features it had and we think are important included blind spot warning and intervention, Backup Collision Intervention and Lane Departure Warning, high-beam assist, Intelligent Cruise Control and a few others.
Counting the all-wheel drive versions, the 2017 Infiniti Q60 is available in a total 10 trim levels. The Q60 2.0t rear-wheel drive has a base price of $39,855, including the destination charge. The most expensive version is the Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD which has a base price of $54,205. With all the available options, that model can go as high as $62,055. The manufacturer also offers several factory-installed accessories.
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 turned out to be an excellent road trip car with a high level of comfort and even respectable fuel economy. A big plus was the excellent performance, handling and great styling. It needs to be on all luxury sports coupe shopping lists.