2021-infiniti-q60-red-sport-400-struggles-to-engage-its-pilot

2021 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 Struggles to Engage Its Pilot

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The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 AWD isn’t a great sports coupe. The great ones offer more engaging handling, better and more responsive steering, and even a manual gearbox. Those are all things we might get when the Q60’s cousin, the new Nissan Z, arrives later this year.

The current Q60 debuted in 2017, and we’ve always found it to be more on the luxury spectrum than the sports-car spectrum. It’s certainly not the newest or most compelling sports coupe in its ever-shrinking segment, but the Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400’s engine still has what it takes to make us smile whenever one comes around.

The Red Sport 400 part of the name refers to the horsepower output of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 under the Q60’s hood. Power comes in at 400 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque. Base versions get a low-energy version of the engine with 300 horsepower. The new Z-car will employ a similar version of this twin-turbo powerplant, and that can’t come soon enough since the 3.7-liter V-6 in the current 370Z is long past its sell-by date. That Z is also expected to come with a standard six-speed manual transmission, whereas the Q60 buyer can only get a seven-speed automatic. Less likely to make it to the new Z is our test car’s ($2000) all-wheel-drive system. Like the standard Q60, the Z will be a rear-driver.

2021 infiniti q60 red sport 400 awd

Infiniti

Winter weather prevented us from testing the 2021 car, but Infiniti hasn’t changed the Q60’s powertrain since we tested one in 2017. With all-wheel drive, a 400-hp Q60 posted a fleet 4.4-second run to 60 mph and a quarter-mile pass in 12.8 seconds at 111 mph. It’d likely be even quicker if the seven-speed automatic would shift faster.

Slow shifts or not, we did appreciate the growls from the Red Sport’s boosted V-6’s exhaust, particularly at lower engine speeds. Running it near the 7000-rpm redline, however, leads to some gruffness. We were impressed enough by the tones coming from the exhaust that we looked under the car and noticed it had a $718 dealer-installed performance exhaust system that wasn’t listed on its window sticker.

2021 infiniti q60 red sport 400 awd

Infiniti

There were no such tweaks to the chassis. There’s nothing glaringly offensive here; it just all seems a bit dull and not in line with what you expect of a 400-hp coupe. Back in 2017, the Red Sport measured 0.88 g of lateral grip and stopped from 70 mph in 164-foot stop, numbers that would be good for a family sedan but are only fair for a sports coupe.

In Michigan, dry pavement is a rarity in January, but the roads dried and we ran out to our 10Best driving loop to shake the Q60 down. On our favorite loop, the Infiniti lacked the joy and composure of competitors like the Audi S5. Even an A5 is more fun than the Q. Infiniti offers a Proactive package ($1700) that adds Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS), a steering-by-wire system that Infiniti has been playing with for years. We’ve never loved that system and the steering weirdness it creates, but even without it the Q60 still lacks the responsiveness we expect in a sports coupe.

2021 infiniti q60 red sport 400 awd

Infiniti

Along with the thrust from the Red Sport’s engine, much of the Q60’s appeal lies in its shapely bodywork. Our test car’s $695 Slate Gray paint and $2280 carbon-fiber trim made it a head turner. It’s a shame the interior’s dated look doesn’t match the exterior. Infiniti’s stacked infotainment screens and the materials aren’t commensurate with our test car’s $65,703 as-tested price. Base versions start at $42,675, and that’s about where this interior plays.

The list of cars you could buy instead of this Q60 Red Sport 400 is long and includes the Audi S5, BMW M440i xDrive, and Mercedes-AMG C43 4Matic coupe. All of those choices offer more refinement and are more engaging and enjoyable to drive than the Q60. A Lexus RC350 F-Sport comes closest to the Q60 Red Sport’s mien, but while the Lexus two-door can’t match the Red Sport 400’s power and acceleration, it does cost significantly less. In fact, moving up to the V-8 powered 471-hp RC-F requires a mere $1297 more than the as-tested price of our Q60. The RC-F and the Q60 Red Sport 400 aren’t even in the same league. While we’re looking forward to a Z-car with the Q60’s strong twin-turbo engine, even with 400 horsepower the Q60 Red Sport 400 itself isn’t a compelling choice.

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