Quick: name a striking new 400bhp twin-turbo sports coupe for launch in 2016. Clue: it’s been seen in concept form just once before in the UK, and that was at the Festival of Speed in 2015.
It’s the Infiniti Q60, one of the star debutants expected at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit when the doors open on January 11th.
People may no longer say, ‘Infiniti who?’ partly thanks to a high profile (but now-ended) Formula 1 sponsorship deal with Red Bull Racing, but after seven hard years trying to establish a foothold in Europe, Nissan’s premium brand is still more ambition than actualité.
The new Q60 is going to be no huge seller – Infiniti is hoping that role will be taken by the made-in-Britain new Q30 and soon-to-arrive QX30 crossover – but it does look set to add some much-needed desirability to a company that has always prided itself on its sporting credentials.
With its all-new design and brand new V6 engine the Q60 is a substantially new kind of Infiniti, even if it appears very much in the mould of its predecessor, the Infiniti G series coupe. A big success in the US and among the first cars to offer Europe a taste of Infiniti when it arrived here in 2008, the G coupe combined one of the most fab sounding V6s with gutsy rear-drive handling in a svelte 2+2 coupe body.
Exactly what we can expect of the new Q60 is under wraps until the Detroit unveiling – the pictures here are of the concept car we saw at the Festival of Speed last summer. But on the design front, Infiniti has a habit of putting concepts into production largely as they are. For the Q60 that would be good news for GRR reckons this is a fine looking car with a powerful stance, and is easily the most attractive Infiniti yet.
And under the bonnet? For VQ, read VR. They’re the initials of a new family of turbocharged V6 engines to take over from the illustrious VQ which has been a sporting stalwart of Infiniti and Nissan (all the Z cars for instance) since 1994. A classic high-revving V6, the VQ is one of the greatest engines ever to have come out of Japan.
Will the new one be able to match it? It certainly ticks the boxes for a powerful but efficient modern V6: direct injection, twin turbo, lightweight, compact and, says Infiniti, more efficient than anything else in the 400bhp class.
But will it be sporty enough? Since the new VR is a version of the engine fitted to the Nissan GT-R (and also the now-canned Infiniti Eau Rouge that rocketed up the FoS hill in 2014) we’d say there is a chance it might be.
The VR engine will spawn a family of units for a wide range of models – first to get it is Infiniti’s BMW 3-series rival, the Q50. So far though the company has only confirmed details of a 3.0-litre version with either 300 or 400 horsepower. Peak power is delivered at 6,400rpm while the 400hp version complements this with 350 lb ft of torque from just 1,600rpm – something the normally-aspirated old engine could never match.
So, it appears the Q60 will be something of a flyer… Who knows, we may even see just how much of a flyer it is at FoS in 2016.
What else can we expect of it when it goes on sale in the UK, expected to be late in 2016? There are sure to be driver assistance technologies by the bucketload – Infiniti loves them. But will it offer the firm’s not-much-liked steer-by-wire system, as previewed by the concept? A MkII ‘Direct Adaptive Steering’ with what Infiniti claims is improved steering feel has just been introduced for the Q50, so watch this space. Most important, we feel, is that the Q60 offers some of the undiluted rear-wheel drive handling appeal that elevated the G coupe above the herd.
With the distinctive Q30 compact in showrooms soon, the sure-to-be-popular QX30 on its way, UK production under way in Sunderland, a London design centre up and running, a technology-sharing agreement with Mercedes happening and this good looking new coupe about to be unveiled, there are lots of reasons for thinking that things may finally be looking up for Infiniti.
Photography courtesy of Infiniti