Can new Infiniti Q60 help push brand in right direction?
It's not Infiniti's first attempt at a car of this type, with the company bringing the G37 to our shores as it launched as a UK brand - but the chances are, you'll almost have never seen one. The company hopes the Q60 will be somewhat more visible.
The car itself is a pretty handsome affair. There's more than a hint of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe from some angles, but by and large it sticks to the concept car forms that Infiniti has been bringing to motor shows for the past few years.
However, the brand has something of an image problem overall. It sells in such small volumes that there's almost no brand awareness (despite sponsoring the Red Bull F1 team in recent years), and those who are familiar with it know it as a premium arm of the Nissan brand. It's certainly not the first name on the lips of BMW, Audi and Mercedes buyers, that Infiniti would class as rivals.
Ultimately, this is a two-door coupe. It may be based on a reasonably large vehicle but when the rear doors go and the roofline plunges, you lose a lot of space in the back. There are seats there, but they are a token affair (as is common with cars of this type) suitable for very young children - only the huge doors and folding seatbacks means accessing them with young children is a challenge.
You might be happy if you do get your kids in the back though, as when it comes to safety, Infiniti has got it sorted. Technology such as forward emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure and a speed limiter are standard across the range, while there's a tech pack that adds adaptive cruise, adaptive lights, rear collision prevention and so on. At times, with all of the assists turned on, it's almost like being in an autonomous car - and it's supernaturally good at spotting things around corners.
For now, there are two power options. The smaller version is a two-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol, producing 208bhp and driving the rear wheels. This is good for a combined economy figure of 41.5mpg and 156g/km CO2, while performance figures stand at 0 - 60mph in 7.1s and a top speed of 146mph.
The car was designed, though, around the new three-litre, V6 twin turbo. This 399bhp engine drives all four wheels and slashes well over two seconds off the acceleration time - standing at 4.8s to 60mph - with a 155mph top speed. Economy suffers a little, with 31.0mpg combined (though on our test it was nearer to 23mpg) and 208g/km CO2 emissions.
Both engines drive a seven-speed automatic gearbox, with a traditional torque-convertor set-up. There's a distinctly odd sensation when you drive the Q60 and it's all down to the fact the steering wheel isn't actually attached to the steering. Infiniti uses a drive-by-wire system - something that will be familiar to Airbus pilots, but a little less common for the rest of us - which takes the inputs from the steering wheel and sends them electronically to the steering rack.
There is, in fact, still an old mechanical steering system but this is only a back-up in case of the electrical system failing (wich Infiniti tells us has never happened).
It has more than a few benefits. The steering can be as light or as heavy as you want it to be (and there are myriad ways of setting it up), has absolutely no central deadzone and doesn't feed back awful road surfaces through to your hands, making for a relaxed long-distance drive that is sporty and direct at the touch of a button.
However, it also means there's not a great deal by way of steering feedback, so drivers who like to feel the road through their fingertips will not find much joy. Despite this, the Q60 is a pretty sharp handler when the mood takes it, with plenty of grip available.
Considering the equipment on offer right from the very beginning, the Q60 is a keenly priced vehicle. For most buyers, what it has as standard on the £33,990 entry-;evel Q60 2.0t Premium is exactly what you'd want - leather seats, heated in the front with electric adjusting and heated wing mirrors, satellite navigation, DAB radio, cruise control, reverse parking cameras and LED daytime lights, tail lights and fog lights.
To spec a rival to the same level will set you back more and, better still, projections put the three-year retained value above the BMW and Audi options at 47 percent.
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