Infiniti’s Q60 has been with us for quite awhile, back even before the Nissan luxury brand decided a couple of years ago to preface the names of all its cars and SUVs with the letter Q. Though it’s never been entirely clear to me what Q has to do with Infiniti, that’s how the marketing geniuses want to roll.
Before the new name game, the Q60 was the G35 and subsequent G37 coupe and convertible. But it’s not to be confused with the Q70, which is the sedan version of the Q60. Or the QX60, which is an SUV. Or the QX70, which is a bigger SUV. Got that? Quite a Quandary.
The now-Q60 was always highly regarded as a spirited luxury sports compact – essentially based on the Nissan 370Z – that’s responsive and fun to drive, though it remains pretty much unchanged from its G days. So despite the name change and continuous updates, the Q60 has been around for more than a decade and is likely overdue for an update.
I still find the Q60 (which comes as a coupe or retractable-hardtop convertible) to be an enjoyable little performer, with a sharper driving edge than more-refined luxury compacts such as Lexus IS, BMW 3-series or Audi A5. That’s especially so in the one I drove most recently, the Q60S Coupe Limited 6MT, the sportiest model and more akin to the performance-honed Lexus IS-F, BMW M3 and Audi S5.
The Q60S is the sport-tuned version of the Infiniti compact, with firmer suspension, quicker steering and stronger brakes, although the 3.7-liter V6 engine mostly stays the same as the standard Q60, with a slight bump from 325 to 330 horsepower and a similar gain in torque. New for 2015, the Limited offers a higher level of performance, styling and appointments, available in either automatic or manual (6MT).
Pricing for Q60S Limited coupe started at $47,700, which includes a full load of luxury and techno gear as standard equipment. With some minor options and shipping, the bottom line came out to $49,575, about par with the competitors.
Thankfully, the test car was the 6MT with stickshift. Not that there’s anything wrong with the 7-speed automatic, but it is so rare anymore that I get to drive an upscale craft with manual transmission, which I vastly prefer in cars with sporting ambitions.
The shifter for the Q60S, essentially the same setup as the 370Z, works with smart precision. Although there is a piece missing – the Q60S does not have the 370Z’s remarkable SynchroRev Match that automatically matches engine rpm while downshifting in an electronic simulation of heel-and-toe driving. This is a unique and desirable feature, and it seems weird that the Q60S does not include it while its lesser Nissin sibling does.
There also is a drivability issue here, and that’s the springy, numb clutch uptake that makes it difficult to upshift smoothly without concentrating, especially for the initial 1-2 shift. This seems to be an across-the-board problem with these cars; I had similar experience in past stickshift versions of the Q60S convertible and even the 370Z.
The Q60S Limited gets all the performance gear on Infiniti’s plate, mainly sports suspension, more-powerful brakes, 19-inch alloy rims with grippier tires and a viscous limited-slip differential.
On the road, the rear-wheel-drive Q60S performs with balanced handling finesse from its firmed-up suspension, although those accustomed to cushier luxury cars might find the ride a bit harsh. Fast drives on winding back roads showed that the Q60S could keep up with the sport-tuned competition from BMW, Audi and Lexus, even though power is a bit down for the Infiniti.
Nissan’s stalwart 3.7-liter V6 is tuned for the Q60S with peak power coming at a lofty 7,000, so the manual transmission is favored for wringing the most performance from the engine. Yes, a little more power would be appreciated. Launches from a standstill are modest, although the pull is solid once under way. The V6 with its high-revving character shines while running through curves and corners.
The exhaust hums and roars with a sweet bellow, although it can get intrusive and sometimes feels inappropriate for a car at this level of luxury. And those giant twin exhaust tips, which look something like chromed coffee cans, are way too boy racerish.
Fuel economy is modest but not bad for a performance car, estimated by the EPA at 17 city, 25 highway and 20 combined.
The luxury interior is attractively styled in leather with aluminum trim. The sport seats are comfortable and accommodating, with electric adjustments for bolsters on the seat and backrest, rather than the one-size-fits-all bolsters of some sporty cars that wind up being the wrong size for most people.
The back seat in this two-door coupe is very tight and should be considered only for kids or pets. Or, just consider the Q60S to be a two-seater, as I did. The front seats provide plenty of room even for those of us with extra-long inseams.
The Q60S Limited comes with an impressive array of technology and entertainment gear, including a premium navigation system with traffic and weather reports; a rich-sounding Infiniti/Bose audio system; Bluetooth; Homelink; rearview monitor and sonar; and a voice-recognition system that operates many of the features.
While the current Q60S might be due for a change – Infiniti just showed a fabulous concept compact coupe at the Detroit Auto Show that could point the way toward Q60’s future styling – the current version holds up well in terms of features, drivability and just plain sports-car fun.
Infiniti Q60S Coupe Limited
Vehicle type: 4-passenger, 2-door coupe, rear-wheel drive
Base price: $47,700.
Price as tested: $49,575
Engine: 3.7-liter V6, 330-horsepower @ 7,000 rpm, 270 pound-feet of torque @ 5,200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 112.2 inches
Overall length/width: 183.7 inches / 71.8 inches
Curb weight: 3,708 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 17 city / 25 highway / 20 combined
Assembled in: Tochigi, Japan