Infiniti Q60

Targets reigning Euro coupe kings, and misses

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

EVERY brand has its icons.

Volkswagen has Golf.

Mazda has MX-5. And Infiniti? Well, clearly its six decades of frontengined, rear-drive, highperformance frontengined, rear-drive, highperformance sports/luxury coupes, right?

Since (re)launching in Australia in 2012 with the G37, thatís what Japanís BMW has been all about, bridging an important line dating back to the 1962 Prince Skyline Sports Coupe.

Hence our big expectations.

And in some ways the V37-series Q60 Ė released initially in 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo guise from $62,900, with a 298kW/475Nm 3.0-litre twinturbo V6 from $88,900 following in March Ė delivers. For starters, the design, which is both lower and wider than the preceding 2007-vintage V36 series, is dramatically distinctive, like every good coupe should be.

Additionally, Infiniti has put thought into the interior, which manages to effortlessly convey class. Generous room up front, pleasing quality, an excellent driving position, cosseting seats, ample geek-pleasing multimedia, stacks of kit and a decently sized boot all underline the brandís half-century experience building grand tourers.

However, some switchgear placement is messy, rear-seat headroom is limited, and the dash design falls short of that of the latest Audi A5 and Mercedes C-Class competitors.

Frustratingly, the Infinitiís status remains complicated on the move, too. The sweet 2.0t might produce healthy outputs, but a hefty 1700kg mass, combined with interminable off-the-line lag, seems to blunt whatever sparkle it might possess. And thatís in Sport mode. Only past 3000rpm does the four-pot turbo find its stride.

That said, on the move the seven-speed torque-converter auto stops behaving like an indecisive dual-clutcher, at last delivering decent mid-range urge.

We miss the old atmo 3.7-litre V6.

More power canít help the oddly slow and remote steering, though, which is probably the most profound disappointment, along with the lumpy ride on 255/45R19 rubber. While the weighting is right, the steering feels artificial except at straight ahead, and reluctant to change direction.

Again, even in Sport.

There is none of the handling litheness or finesse of the Infinitiís German rivals. Are the Americans responsible for the dreary dynamic tuning? A rethink is in order, and pronto.

Thereís plenty thatís right in the new Q60, but the driver-focused attributes that made its Nissan, Datsun and Prince ancestors sports-coupe icons appear to have been forsaken at the alter of style. cestors ppear t

PLUS & MINUS

Jarring ride, turbo lag, sluggish auto, dead steering, dated dash Quality; design; mid-range performance; seats; equipment; safety Model Motor Max power Max torque Transmission Weight Economy 0-100km/h Price On sale Infiniti Q60 2.0t GT with Enhancement Pack 1991cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 155kW @ 5500rpm 350Nm @ 1250-3500rpm 7-speed automatic 1698kg 7.7L/100km 7.3sec (claimed) $65,900 Now

Heavy hitter in waiting

The Q60ís 155kW 2.0t struggles with initial acceleration due to tipping the scales at almost 1700kg, but the 298kW 3.0 twin-turbo V6 should fix that. The tetchy ride also ought to improve, since adaptive dampers will be fitted, helping the sophisticated doublewishbone front and multilink rear cope better with bumps. As for the remote handling, well, the flagship will usher in Infinitiís latest Direct Adaptive Steering tech, which is meant to feel and behave a whole lot better than the weird firstgeneration version.