30 Minutes With: The 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400.
Publisher's note:  Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days.  Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series are cars that we spent half an hour behind the wheel of during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in Monterey, California.

Day one of Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade.  Once there, you swap cars with another journalist for the drive back, and then swap cars again once back at the Quail. Apart from an hour's lunch, this is your day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Each run is about half an hour, and driving 10 to 12 cars back-to-back-to-back gives you interesting points of reference about the next one.

My tenth and final car of the day was a sleeper...The 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400.

Map of Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade
Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade (courtesy Google Maps).
Laureles Grade is about five and a half miles of non-stop twists and turns between Carmel Valley Road and CA 68, and thus perfect for a pack of automotive journalists and some high-grade machinery.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400.
To look at it, you might think this was just a garden-variety Q60 (they start at $38,950 for a model with a 208-horsepower turbo four) with some aggressive looking wheels and black accents in the right places, but no....this is a very special Q60.   The Red Sport 400 is the top-of-the-line, with a 400-horsepower twin-turbo 3-liter six.  Available in RWD ($51,300) and AWD models ($53,300).
Based on a lack of badging, I'll assume the one I drove was RWD.

If you don't think 16 horsepower shy of doubling a Q60's horsepower makes a huge difference in performance, it's time to go back to Physics 101.  The Red Sport 400 is the ultimate expression of what Infiniti's been doing for as long as I've been TireKicking professionally (20 years this fall, nine of them with this website)...building a reasonably-priced alternative to BMW that goes about things in a completely different way from the Bavarians without compromising the ultimate goals of performance.

Interior view of 2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400
2017 Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400 interior.
Part of that difference is the interior environs.  The Infiniti Q60 is a much lighter, airier space than a BMW 4-Series. The controls at first feel perhaps a bit too light to be connected to a true sporting machine.  But as your foot connects to the throttle, your hands to the wheel and your posterior to the twists and turns of Laureles Grade, you begin to realize that the lightness reduces fatigue without reducing control...that you could do some serious long runs in this car.

Yes, BMW's M4 has 44 more horsepower, but it's $66,400 without options (and good luck finding one like that at your local...or any...dealer).  This is $51,300.  You could go with a 440i, and come in under $50,000 (again without options), but you're now working with 80 fewer horsepower than the Q60 Red Sport packs.

I had the good fortune of getting back to Quail Lodge to find out that the other cars had been spoken for.  That meant I was able to stay in the Q60 and take it back to the Monterey Tides hotel near Sand City...an extra half-hour in late afternoon traffic that gave me the chance to see how well this performance car handled a daily grind.  I couldn't have asked for a better car to drive back.

And that's the end of our "30 Minutes With" series for 2016.  In eleven months, it's back to Monterey for WAJ Media Days 2018.  Can't wait.