2014 Infiniti Q60S Convertible HardtopPosted on January 15th, 2014
Two-plus-two entices driving enthusiasts
By Nina Russin
I’m driving the Infiniti Q60S on a freeway east of Scottsdale, Arizona, listening to Beethoven’s fifth symphony and thinking about Alex and the droogs. Those who remember Anthony Burgess’ novel, “A Clockwork Orange,” will recall that Alex and his band of teenage hoodlums were great fans of Beethoven, whose music was the catalyst for their bad behavior.
Sitting behind the wheel of Infiniti’s seductive convertible hardtop, the droogs’ behavior makes perfect sense to me. Beethoven is to classical music what chocolate is to food. I can feel the endorphins traveling from my brain to my right foot, which seems to be digging deeper and deeper into the throttle. With its 325-horsepower V-6 engine and six-speed manual gearbox, the Q60S is the type of car that makes drivers want to go fast regardless of the consequences.
As a driving enthusiast, I have a passion for visceral, if slightly impractical cars. The Q60S that replaces Infiniti’s G37 models is just that. In typical two-plus-two fashion, the rear seats are more a nod to insurance companies than function. The retractable hardtop takes up most of the trunk space, leaving the rear seats as primary stowage for cargo.
But who cares? The Q60S is a joy to drive: fast and nimble. And it’s not too hard on the eyes either. The hardtop offers the advantage of better insulation for temperature extremes and noise reduction. It deploys at the push of a toggle switch on the center console. The same switch also lowers the windows.
Standard nineteen-inch wheels with summer performance tires eat up the road. Cornering is almost too much fun.
Base price for the test car is $52,750, excluding the $905 destination charge. Standard convenience features include keyless entry and start, leather heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, navigation, a rearview monitor, Bluetooth interface, satellite radio, bi-xenon headlamps and voice recognition. Final MSRP is $53,655.
Technology meets performance
At the heart of the Q60S is Infiniti’s race-inspired front midship design that positions the driver close to the car’s center of gravity. The four-wheel independent suspension consists of a compact double wishbone setup in front and multi-links in the rear. The close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox is ideal for the track, but gears have plenty of range for driving on public roads.
Variable valve timing enables engineers to maximize power from the 3.7-liter block while containing emissions. Fuel economy isn’t great: about 19 mpg on average. Because of the engine’s high compression ratio, the manufacturer recommends 91-octane premium gasoline.
With electric power steering poised to take over the market, it’s delightful to find a traditional hydraulic rack-and-pinion system with razor-sharp on-center response. At higher speeds, steering effort increases for a pleasantly heavy feel. There is ample assist at low speeds for maneuverability. The car’s turning circle is 36.1 feet, making the occasional U-turn a non-issue.
Four-piston front calipers and dual-piston rear disc brakes stop the car on a dime.
Test drive in Phoenix
Over the past week, I drove the Q60S on a combination of surface streets, highways and rural roads in the Phoenix area. Although the six-speed manual transmission isn’t as practical as the available seven-speed automatic unit in stop-and-go traffic, it would still be my choice, simply because it forces the person behind the wheel to become more deeply involved in driving. The clutch is a bit stiff, but as an athlete, that doesn’t bother me.
Although the rev-matching feature on the seven-speed automatic probably outperforms my own capabilities as a driver, I like depressing a clutch when I downshift.
And frankly, on a car such as this, I enjoy the additional shift shock that driving a manual gearbox inevitably brings.
The engine has more power than most drivers will use outside of a racetrack. I found myself having to monitor speed carefully to avoid a fistful of tickets. Fast as it is, the Q60S is also a very safe car to drive, simply because the steering response is so good and the brakes so strong. Front-to-rear weight balance is as close to perfect as on any car I’ve driven. Beefy stabilizer bars keep the chassis pancake flat in the corners.
With the hardtop in place there are some large blind spots in the back corners that the driver needs to be conscious of when changing lanes. Available blind spot detection would be a nice option. The rearview camera projects a wide angle view to the back of the vehicle when the driver shifts into reverse, making the car easy to park and monitor cross traffic.
Engineers did a good job of isolating passengers from engine and wind noise. There’s a certain amount of tire noise, which is to be expected in a sports car with 19-inch wheels and low profile tires. The exhaust note is as it should be: loud at wide-open throttle.
The Q60S interior is plush and stylish, with leather upholstery and aluminum trim. As mentioned above, it is really a two-passenger car, though I suppose a small person could fit in back in a pinch.
Designers did a good job of integrating the infotainment features without cluttering up the instrument panel. A mouse-type device operates most functions, keeping the area devoid of unnecessary buttons. I found the audio, navigation and climate control systems intuitive to operate. Controls are easy to reach from either front seating position.
The twelve-way power driver’s seat includes a thigh extender for long-legged people including myself, as well as ample lower lumbar support. Both the driver and front passenger should be quite comfortable on extended road trips.
A power tilt-and telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag and clear forward view.
The Bose open-air sound system includes speakers in the headrests, so occupants are surrounded with music.
With the top in place, the trunk has enough room for some small luggage and groceries. When the top is deployed into the trunk, the rear seats are the best spot for cargo.
The Infiniti Q60S comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control, bi-xenon headlamps, pop-up roll bars and tire pressure monitoring.
Infiniti’s factory warranty includes 24-hour roadside assistance and complimentary loaner cars during service.
The Q60S is rolling into Infiniti dealerships nationwide.
Like: A stylish sports car with exceptional performance. The convertible hardtop provides better insulation against noise and temperature extremes than most soft tops.
Dislike: Lack of trunk space. Large blind spots in rear corners with the hardtop in place.
Base price: $52,750
As tested: $53,665
Horsepower: 325 Hp @ 7000 rpm
Torque: 267 @ 5200 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 16/24 mpg city/highway
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