At first blush, the 2014 Infiniti Q60 Coupe looks like the car that Infiniti forgot. While its sedan sibling, the Q50, is all new for 2014, the Q60 soldiers on as essentially the same old G37 Coupe by a different name. That means the Q60's roots go all the way back to 2008, yet it's expected to compete against recently redesigned foes like the BMW 4 Series. Is there any hope for Infiniti's once-glamorous performance leader?
It's a question that's been on my mind in recent months, particularly after I scored some track time in BMW's turbocharged 2014 435i. I've always liked the G37 -- but that 4 Series, my goodness. As such, I jumped at the chance to spend a week in a 2014 Infiniti Q60 IPL Coupe with the 6-speed manual transmission. Would it feel hopelessly outdated, or would my affection be rekindled? I drove my Malbec Black tester all over Southern California to find out.
The ABCs of IPL
First of all, IPL stands for "Infiniti Performance Line," and that sounds exciting. It certainly got me excited when the IPL G Coupe -- basically the same car as the Q60 IPL -- debuted a few years back. I figured this Performance Line would be something akin to BMW's M Series or Mercedes-Benz's AMG skunkworks. Hey, drop Infiniti's 5.6-liter, 420-horsepower V8 into the G37 Coupe and you've got a Japanese C63 AMG, right? Makes perfect sense.
But then I read the fine print. The IPL had a 3.7-liter V6, just like the regular version. Output was up to 348 hp and 276 lb-ft of torque, but the standard coupe already cranked out 330 horses and 270 lb-ft -- that's pretty much a wash. And although the IPL package included a stiffer suspension and quicker steering, performance testing revealed little if any measurable handling edge. Despite its huge exhaust tips and aggressive body kit, the IPL G generally didn't move the needle for the driving enthusiasts it was supposed to attract.
Seeing as the 2014 Q60 IPL Coupe is a rebadged IPL G, the story hasn't changed. The IPL's starting price for 2014 is $53,460 with destination, whereas the regular Q60 with the manual transmission checks in at $46,855. And the base Q60 Journey costs $41,755 with its 7-speed automatic. Unless you love that body kit, or perhaps the IPL's exclusive red leather interior, the less-costly Q60 models simply hold better value.
But enough about that. I've got a 348-hp luxury coupe for the week, right? Let's hit the road and see what's what.
The Q60 Experience
Open the 2014 Q60's long door and you're greeted by a quintessential sport-coupe cockpit. The low-slung driver seat has always struck me as a bit narrow in the hip -- and I'm rather narrow myself -- but its lateral bolstering is terrific, as is the support it provides on long treks. The driving position is one of the best in any vehicle: The compact steering wheel is in just the right place, while the generous view forward over the voluptuous front fenders brings to mind the Chevrolet Corvette and even the dearly departed Lotus Elise. From the first time I sat in a G37 Coupe, these cars have just made me want to pack a bag, find the horizon and mash the throttle. That's one feature that never gets old.
Accordingly, the Q60 IPL and I were soon on our way up the coast to Santa Barbara, a 200-mile round trip from my place in Los Angeles. As ever, Infiniti's coupe both cruises and corners with confidence, aided by stellar hydraulic power steering that beats the pants off most of today's ubiquitous electric-assist setups. The effort's spot-on, the responses are immediate and the overall effect makes the driver feel in complete control at all times. Also, the IPL suspension reduces body roll without making the ride intolerable; it's a fair trade-off for folks who like to drive. "I could own this car," I found myself thinking -- a recurring thought as the trip progressed.
So what's the one thing that would keep the Q60 out of my garage? Not a lack of contemporary convenience features, surprisingly enough. Between the excellent Bose stereo and the tried-and-true central infotainment screen, I had plenty of technology aboard. No, the sticking point for me continues to be the big V6 under the hood. Although it's undeniably capable, it gets uncivilized at higher rpm, plain and simple. Since it lacks forced induction like the 435i or the Audi S5, you actually need higher rpm for serious acceleration. Again, if Infiniti could shoehorn that sweet 5.6-liter V8 into the IPL, I'd be sold, but as things stand, the Q60 is a scintillating engine shy of luxury-coupe nirvana. Particularly at the IPL's $50,000-plus sticker price, I think that's a tough pill to swallow.
The Bottom Line
Nonetheless, I still like the Q60 if the price is reasonable. Infiniti fundamentally got a lot right with this coupe when it first came out, and throwback features like the hydraulic steering and great visibility set it apart from the high-tech cocoons that crowd today's marketplace. As I said, the IPL needs more motor if it's going to convince me, but I could make an argument for the Q60 Journey at under $42 grand. (I think I prefer the eager automatic to the stiff-clutch manual anyway.) Check one out sometime. The Q60's got more life in its old legs than you might think.