Remember when Infiniti was a performance brand? Yeah, it has been a while since then, but Infiniti appears to be getting some of its mojo back. The new, athletic-looking 2017 Q60 coupe is leading the charge, but is it the second coming of the beloved original G35 coupe?
Yes and no. One reason the Q60 can?t be considered the second coming of the G35 is because, in a very fundamental sense, the G35 never really left. The Q60?s architecture is an evolution of the FM platform that underpinned the original G35 as well as every G35, G37, and Q60 coupe since (plus their sedan counterparts). Every one of those coupes has ridden on the same 112.2-inch wheelbase, and while the Q60 has grown wider and longer overall, its front and rear track widths have increased by less than an inch. Since the original G35 and the new Q60 are within 0.1 inch in height, the identical amount of interior space (a snug 86 cubic feet) should come as no surprise. And, alas, the Q60?s trunk remains small and somewhat challenging to load because of its high liftover.
Things have definitely changed under the hood, however. Whereas the G35?s sole engine was Nissan?s VQ 3.5-liter V-6 with 280 horsepower, today?s Q60 offers a three-engine lineup: one four-cylinder and two VR 3.0-liter V-6s, all three direct injected and turbocharged. The way we see it, the rightful heir to the G35?s legacy is the top-spec Red Sport 400, with its twin-turbocharged V-6 churning out a hearty 400 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. And so we took temporary custody of a rear-wheel-drive Q60 Red Sport 400 (all-wheel drive also is available), drove the stink out of it, and performed a battery of instrumented tests to see if it can indeed fill the G35?s shoes?and, more broadly, whether it might help restore Infiniti?s performance-brand image.
Q Is for Quick
First of all, this coupe is quick. We clocked a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.5 seconds, the same figure we achieved in the Q50 Red Sport 400 and a full 1.5 seconds quicker than the first G35 coupe we tested back in 2003. Furthermore, with all 350 lb-ft of torque available from 1600 to 5200 rpm, a healthy supply of thrust is always readily available, with just a whiff of turbo lag. On more than one occasion while cruising at 30 mph or so, we induced wheelspin by hammering the go pedal.
Sadly, the 2017 Q60 is the first Infiniti coupe since the M30 to deny buyers the option of a manual transmission. Infiniti?s ubiquitous seven-speed automatic is the sole gearbox, and we don?t especially love it here, as it lacks the slickness of the eight-speed automatic in the BMW 4-series (a car that still offers a stick, by the way). Not helping its cause is the VR engine?s general lack of charisma, plus its gruffness at high revs. Toggling the drive-mode selector to Sport or Sport Plus adds some life to the powertrain and brings rev-matched downshifts during aggressive driving, but the athleticism displayed here can be likened more to a weightlifter than a ballroom dancer: It?s strong and capable when summoned but would just as soon sit down and towel off as stay on the floor and dazzle the crowd.
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