Every Infiniti I’ve driven for the past six months—three different vehicles—gave me the same ominous automated message: “Weather alert! Blizzard warning within 15 miles of current location! Weather alert! Winter storm warning within five miles of current location!” It happened every time the radio was switched on and I couldn’t program it away.
I know the weather forecast, thanks anyway, and don’t need this much looking after. Just as annoying was that the message was always correct; it’s been that sort of winter. (It still is winter here, at the end of March.) Fortunately, each of these Infinitis—a QX80, QX70 and this Q60—was equipped with all-wheel drive.
But while the first two were high-riding sport-utes, the Q60 is a sports-luxury performance coupe with a lot less ground clearance. Given the truly awful state of the roads, I’ve had to tiptoe along or risk ripping off bodywork or dinging a wheel as the car drops into frost heaves and potholes. The Q60 is too firmly sprung for comfort on cracked pavement, too. It wants smoother surfaces, where all these horses can run free.
What exactly is a Q60, you ask? It is last year’s G37, the model name updated to reflect Infiniti’s takeover of the letter Q. For 2014, to squeeze in several new models, Infiniti rebadged its entire lineup, replacing the various M, G, F, J and E designations with Q (in memory of Nissan’s very first Infiniti, the 1990 Q45). Whether or not they have AWD, sport-utes also get the letter X, thus the QX50, QX60, QX70 and QX80. The numbers indicate relative size and, unlike the old names such as QX56 or G37, have nothing to do with engine displacement.
When it comes to cars, there are Q50 and Q70 four-door sedans. The Q60 is Infiniti’s only coupe, and it’s available with rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and in several spec levels, including a hardtop convertible and an edgier and slightly more powerful IPL version.
Each version of the Q60 is available with a six-speed gearbox and an honest-to-god clutch pedal. This one came with the other no-extra-cost option, a seven-speed automatic with shifter paddles on the steering wheel and a stick. It’s an excellent box, and it even blips the throttle on downshifts, so you sound like you’re double-clutching, Fangio-style.
The Q60’s pretty skin and upmarket furniture are wrapped around the drivetrain of its sister ship, the RWD Nissan 370Z, one of the world’s benchmark sports cars. Under the Q60’s hood is the same 3.7-liter V-6 good for 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. Acceleration is impressive, all the more so when the roads are slippery—you’d never suspect this car carries the extra weight of an AWD system. (The transmission offers a Snow setting, to help tame wheelspin when conditions are extra slippery.)
Our $43,000 Q60 AWD was an S model, meaning it had the $1,950 Sport Package: 19-inch alloy wheels, that leering grin at the front, sport-tuned suspension and brakes, a limited-slip differential and sport front seats with extendable thigh supports.
Other options included a nav system worth $1,850 (where the annoying weather alerts are embedded) and a $1,250 technology suite that adds adaptive cruise control, braking assist and rain-sensing wipers. There was also $4,000 worth of upgrades to the infotainment system, the front seats and the interior trim, plus backup sensors, a fancy moonroof and so on.
The car was very well equipped, but the sticker came to $52,055, which is a full 10 grand more than the last G37S AWD we drove, and puts this Q60S AWD in German price territory. BMW’s comparable new 435i xDrive coupe is slightly less powerful but a bit more refined under the hood and has a more useful trunk and back seats; the Infiniti is less roomy but better decorated. Equip the 4-Series to the same level as this Q60, however, and the BMW’s sticker shoots way up over $60K. The Infiniti is better value.
Now if the weather would calm down and our roads shape up, I could enjoy the car a whole lot more.