A wee handful of Baby Boomers — and an even tinier pool of the younger buyers — find themselves in the market for a new sports car. Too bad, this. There are still some heart-raising two-seaters on offer – including Ford’s Mustang (which appears destined to morph into an electrified SUV), and the subject of this test, Infiniti’s Q60.
My friends, sales of sports cars declined nearly 30 per cent last year, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. Fewer than 23,000 Canadians bought any kind of sports car. Mustang sales collapsed 16.3 per cent to 6,745 sold in total. And the Mustang has long been No. 1 in its class.
Yes, Canadians bought more than 1.9 million new passenger vehicles last year, but virtually ignored sports cars. Racy two-doors are expensive, but insurance costs are absurd – and this is a cost that never goes away, year after year. The best rate I could find on RateLab.ca for a 35-year-old man in Toronto driving a new Ford Mustang GT came to $1,916/year – that for a driver with a perfect driving history.
So, if you’re going to live with a sports car, you pay an enormous price – about two weeks’ pay for the average Canadian worker. Ugh.
Before insurance, however, you must actually buy the car. Now the lovely 2020 Infiniti Q60 I-Line Red Sport AWD tested here lists for $65,295, though the base Q60 – which looks almost exactly the same – goes for $53,795. There is a Q60 even pricier than the Red Sport, the Red ProACTIVE AWD, that lists for a staggering $68,495.
Okay, add in the Dynamic Sunstone Red paint ($1,200), freight, dealer prep and other mandatory fees ($2,120), the very cool external ground lighting (a bargain at $329), beautifully finished 10-spoke aluminum alloy wheels ($504), illuminated aluminum kick plates ($309), ambient interior lighting ($399), and you’ve topped $70,000. You’re looking at $1,300 monthly payments for five years.
Why are sports cars suffering a sad demise? Do the numbers. For this quite wonderful Q60, you’ll pay nearly $2,000/month in finance costs, insurance, fuel and maintenance. Or about half the before-tax monthly take-home pay of the average Canadian worker.
The Q60 I-Line Red Sport is a lovely, lovely way to go about your driving business, but let’s face facts: it’s essentially a two-seat toy with a tiny, tiny rear seat that’s ideal only for tossing a briefcase or gym bag, or stuffing a small, disobedient child. You might squeeze two sets of golf clubs into the trunk, if you’re creative.
You’ll get in the neighborhood of 12 litres/100 km from the 400-horsepower, twin-turbo V-6, so don’t lose track of filling stations, either. By god, though, it’s a lovely motor – silky, responsive, with just a hint of turbo lag and nearly all the torque (350 lb-ft) is right there at 1,600 rpm, and stays steady to 5,200 rpm.
The seven-speed single-clutch automatic gearbox sends power to all four wheels as you need it, though the software aims for a rear bias. This two-door is fast, responsive and simply a delight to drive. You can dial up a list of driver modes, from Personal, to Sport, Eco and others. Sport tightens things up the most, but for daily driving, the best choice is Standard or Eco, unless you’ve gone to the trouble of personalizing things. Regardless, this is a fine little road-dancer.
Handsome, too. Naturally, the car sits low and it has a wide track, over which is a well-crafted body with subtle, tasteful curves. Think feline beauty. The cabin is precisely what you’d expect in a car meant for personal, adventurous driving. Driver and passenger each enjoy a cockpit space, with instruments and controls aimed at the driver. The dual-screen infotainment layout has an upper for the backup camera and navigation system, and a lower for the rest of the systems. Alas, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were not available with my tester.
So, where does all this leave us? With a delightful, personal driving tool, but from a brand – Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury arm – that has less cachet in the marketplace than, say, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus. This is inexcusable. Infiniti has been with us for three decades, yet somehow parent Nissan continues to botch its search for a luxury brand formula that endures and stands out from the pack.
By contrast, Hyundai Motor’s new Genesis brand is off to a roaring start – with an emphasis on driving performance, personalized customer service and high quality. Indeed, in the most recent third-party quality studies, Genesis landed at or near the top of the entire spectrum of brands, from luxury to mainstream. Infiniti is mid-pack in Consumer Reports’ most recent brand ratings.
Thus, while I like this fancy Q60 very much, it presents a mixed bag of attractions for buyers who nonetheless must pay a premium price. Three stars out of five, we’ll say.
2020 Infiniti Q60 I-Line Red Sport
Price: $65,290 (base).
Engine: 3.0-litre V-6, twin turbo (400 horsepower/350 lb-ft of torque).
Transmission: seven-speed automatic with manual shift mode.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 12.5 city/9.2 hwy using premium fuel.