Audi S5 2017 review
It's hard to imagine a better place to enjoy the hard-charging antics of Audi's stunning S5 Coupe than the sublime twists and turns of Tasmania's perfect blacktop... and we went there to do just that.
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You probably already know this, but for those who may have missed that class, Infiniti is Nissan's luxury division, just as Lexus is Toyota's prestige sub-brand. But don't look at Infiniti as just a fancy Nissan. No, look at it as a really, really fancy Nissan.
Actually, that's not fair, because while Infiniti sure does share many of Nissan's things such as gearboxes, vehicle platforms and office space in downtown Atsugi, Japan, there's a lot of Infiniti in Infiniti. Take the Q60 Red Sport which we drove for the first time on Australian roads. This is a car which not only has technology which isn't found in any Nissan but is a world first for any car, and that's just the start. More on that later.
The Q60 Red Sport has two doors, is rear-wheel drive and wants to be considered a worthy opponent for the Audi S5 Coupe, BMW 440i, and Mercedes-AMG C43, but if we're all honest with each other, its direct rival is the Lexus RC 350. Just think of Infiniti as the mysterious premium economy nether region between everyday Toyotas and Nissans and the high-end Mercs and Beemers.
The Red Sport is the top of the Q60 range and it's finally landed in Australia, five months after the other two grades in the line-up touched down here. Those were the GT and Sport Premium, and neither set our world on fire at the time.
So going to the Red Sport launch felt like we were heading off to the last movie in a trilogy without enormous expectations. That would only serve to make the Red Sport's impact on me even more impressive.
|Infiniti Q60 2017: RED SPORT|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
This Q60 is the first of a new generation and the body is all Infiniti – there's no Nissan in there – and it's by far the best looking car the brand has turned out.
There's that tear-drop side profile, the huge rear haunches, and the perfectly shaped tail. The Q60's grille is deeper and more angular than those of other cars in the wider Infiniti range, and the headlights are smaller and sleeker. The bonnet is just as as curvaceous though, with its large pontoon-like humps over the wheel arches, and defined ridges running down it from the base of the windscreen.
Does anybody buy a two door performance car thinking it's going to be practical?
It's an expressive and beautiful car, but it's up against some drop-dead gorgeous rivals in the S5, 440i, RC350, and C43.
All these two-door beasts have similar dimensions. At 4685mm end-to-end the Q60 Red Sport is 47mm longer than the 440i, but 10mm shorter than the RC350, 7mm less than the S5 and only 1mm shorter than the C43. The Red Sport is 2052mm wide from mirror-to-mirror and stands only 1395mm tall.
From the outside you can only tell a Red Sport from other Q60s by its brushed satin finish dual exhaust tips – but there are some big differences under the skin.
Inside, the cabin is well crafted with a high quality feel to the build. Sure, there are some weird asymmetrical aspects to the styling such as the waterfall design to the dash, and it seems odd to have a large display above another large display, but it's a premium feeling cabin. It's not quite up there with the Germans though in terms of prestige refinement.
Does anybody buy a two door performance car thinking it's going to be practical? Well, the Q60 Red Sport is practical in that it has four seats and a boot, but the legroom in the back is tight. I'm 191cm and can't sit behind my driving position. This could be partly down to the chunky leather front seats, because I can sit behind my driving position in a BMW 4 Series which has a wheelbase 40mm shorter than the Q60's (2850mm) but features much thinner, contoured sports buckets.
Limited rear headroom is a by-product of the beautiful sloping roof profile, but also means I can't sit upright. Again, I don't have that issue in the 4 Series.
Keep in mind I'm about 15cm taller than average, so shorter humans may see the seats as perfectly roomy.
Ah, but the shorter you are the harder you'll find putting your gear in the boot because the Q60 has a high lip to the cargo area that you need to swing your luggage over.
Boot capacity is quoted as 341 litres, which is substantially smaller than the 4 Series (445 litres) and RC 350 (423 litres). Just to complicate things Infiniti uses a different volume measuring system to the Germans and Lexus (who use VDA litres), which is why it's probably best to take a suitcase, pram, or golf clubs to the dealership and try it out for yourself.
Just to be clear there are only two seats in the back. Between them is an armrest with two cup holders. There are another two cup holders up front and the doors have smallish pockets, but you won't fit anything bigger than a 500ml bottle in them, not unless you pour the contents in there.
Storage elsewhere in the cabin isn't great. The bin under the centre armrest up front is small, the compartment in front of the shifter is like a mouse hole and the glovebox barely fits the chunky manual. But this is a sports car isn't it? All you need to bring is your jacket, sunglasses, your long service leave, right?
At $88,900, the Q60 Red Sport lists for $18K more than the Sport Premium, and that's only $620 more than the Lexus RC 350. The pricing also means the Q60 Red Sport is a decent chunk less than Audi's $105,800 S5 Coupe, as well as the $99,900 BMW 440i, and Mercedes-AMG C43 for $104,400.
The Infiniti badge might not command the same respect as the German ones, but you're getting better value for your money with the Q60 Red Sport. The healthy standard features list includes auto LED headlight and DRLs, power sunroof, a 13-speaker Bose sound system, two touchscreens (an 8.0-inch and 7.0-inch display), sat nav and a surround-view camera.
Infiniti Australia doesn't have an official 0-100km/h time for the Red Sport but in other markets the brand is shouting 4.9 seconds from the rooftops.
There's also proximity unlocking, electrically adjustable steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, power adjustable and heated driver and passenger seats, aluminium finished pedals and a leather-clad steering wheel.
There are some areas where the Q60 falls short of the Germans. The Audi S5 for instance has a virtual instrument cluster and the 440i has an excellent head-up display.
If power is more important than prestige to you then the Q60 Red Sport's 298kW/475Nm 3.0-litre twin turbo V6 engine is the perfect reason to wipe the S5, 440i, RC 350, and C43 off the shopping list and cancel the call to the bank manager.
The C43 is the most powerful of the German rivals with 270kW and the Infiniti walks all over it. The AMG's 520Nm and the S5's 500Nm out-torque the Infiniti, but not the 440i with 450Nm. By-the-by, the RC350 has a 233kW/378Nm V6 - pfffft!
This engine is affectionately code-named the VR30 and it's an evolution of Nissan's much praised VQ. That said, this engine doesn't power any Nissans, yet. So, for now it's unique to Infiniti and used in the Q60 and its Q50 four-door sibling. The hugely important difference between the Sport Premium and Red Sport is that the former doesn't get this engine - it has a four cylinder.
Infiniti Australia doesn't have an official 0-100km/h time for the Red Sport but in other markets the brand is shouting 4.9 seconds from the rooftops. We were about a second off this when we conducted a primitive and only loosely accurate test with a phone stopwatch.
I was changing gears for that run using the paddles mounted on the steering wheel, but looking back I should have left that up to the smooth shifting seven-speed automatic transmission.
So the Q60 Red Sport's bang for buck is phenomenally good.
Infiniti says that under a combination of highway, country and urban roads you should see the Red Sport going through 8.9L/100km. I drove it as though the manufacturer had literally handed me the keys with a full tank of free fuel and a 200km of Targa High Country road between me and a plane that needed to leave earlier than scheduled or wait four hours for the next slot back into Sydney. And still I only drained the tank at a rate of 11.1L/100km according to the trip computer. Under those conditions I wouldn't have been surprised to look down and see 111.1L/100km.
This was the part I was most nervous about. See, the Red Sport's performance looked good on the specs sheet, but sometimes reality leaves you with numb steering and hyper-sensitive stability control.
The lack of rumble and a barely audible exhaust note on idle didn't impress me. Pulling out onto the highway and feeling a 'sticking' sensation in the steering didn't either. The ride was a little harsh from the run flats tyres and the suspension felt a bit jiggly, but overall it was comfortable. I was driving in the 'Standard' drive mode setting.
Then I found 'Sport +' mode and everything worked exactly how it should. Sport + firms the suspension, changes the throttle mapping, quickens the steering while improving its response and reminds the stability control that it's a security guard that should stay outside and only come in if there's trouble. It's basically 'I Got This mode' and thankfully the steering becomes so much smoother, with more weight and there's no sensation that you're fighting with it when changing direction.
I pelted through the wilderness with a giant grin on my face.
The Sport Premium grade does not get Sport + mode - another point of difference.
Infiniti calls the Q60 Red Sport's direct adaptive steering the world's first digital steering system. There's nothing other than electronics connecting the steering wheel to the wheels and the system is making 1000 adjustments a second. That's supposed to give you good feedback and an instantaneous response to your inputs.
Buyers can also choose a power rack and pinion steering – this wasn't fitted to the cars given to us to drive.
Also constantly adjusting are the new adaptive dampers, along with allowing the driver to set them in a standard or Sport mode they also monitor the body pitch and bounce.
With all the electronics in the world the one digital thing missing from the Q60 Red Sport is a speedo. Sure the analogue tacho and speedo are clear, but they lack divisions between each 10km/h increment.
Still, I pelted through the wilderness with a giant grin on my face. The Red Sport was balanced, the turn-in was excellent, the chassis felt taut, the handling agile and the power coming out of tight corners would be enough to break traction (if you were so inclined) through second and third gears with a squirm of the tail, all the while remaining composed and controlled.
The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport looks beautiful, that side profile, that rear end – stunning.
That twin-turbo V6 feels strong, but it's nowhere near as insanely wild as the 441kW V6 in the Nissan GT-R R35. No, it's tamer and sometimes left me wanting more power, even though 300kW should be more than enough. It was the only time that I wanted this Infiniti to be more Nissan.
Brakes on the Red Sport are the same size as those on the Sport Premium – 355mm discs with four piston calipers on the front and 350mm rotors with two pistons on the back. While not enormous that was enough to pull the Red Sport up pretty well.
A louder, more aggro exhaust note would have provided the perfect soundtrack and that would have completed an impressive Sport + driving experience.
4 years / 100,000 km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The Q60 Red Sport hasn't been given an ANCAP crash rating yet, but the Q50 scored the highest possible five stars. The Q60 comes with an outstanding level of advanced safety equipment including AEB, blindspot and lane departure warning with steering assistance.
There are two ISOFIX mounts in the back and two top tether anchor points as well.
The Q60 Red Sport is covered by Infiniti's four-year/100,000km warranty. Servicing is recommended every 12 months or 15,000km.
Infiniti has a six-year/125,000km servicing plan package at no additional cost. The company says buyers can expect to pay $331 for the first service, $570 for the second, and $331 for the third, but these are indicative prices only.
The Infiniti Q60 Red Sport looks beautiful, that side profile, that rear end – stunning. The interior isn't at the same prestigious level as the Audi, Beemer or Merc, but the build quality is superb. While it's not as pricey as the Germans I think it's still a little over the mark. That engine out-powers all of its rivals and the Sport + mode is the magic setting which saves this car from being an okay car to drive to being agile and rewarding. If you can handle the firmer ride, my advice is to keep it in Sport +.
|3.7 S Premium||3.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$55,770 – 64,130||2017 INFINITI Q60 2017 3.7 S Premium Pricing and Specs|
|3.7 S Premium Monaco Red||3.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$57,200 – 65,780||2017 INFINITI Q60 2017 3.7 S Premium Monaco Red Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 GT||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$39,050 – 45,980||2017 INFINITI Q60 2017 2.0 GT Pricing and Specs|
|3.7 GT Premium||3.7L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$39,710 – 46,750||2017 INFINITI Q60 2017 3.7 GT Premium Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||9|
Lowest price, based on third party pricing data