Infiniti Q60S

Bryan Logan/Business Insider

2017 Infiniti Q60S

Infiniti has always been the odd one out in the luxury car segment. The automaker is an offshoot of Nissan, and like its Lexus and Acura counterparts — which are offshoots of Toyota and Honda, respectively — it has never quite been viewed as a genuine luxury marque.

It shares parts and architecture across Nissan’s global product ecosystem and, historically, Infiniti has offered precious little to distinguish itself from the everyday mass-market Nissans roaming the streets around the globe.

And then there’s Infiniti’s branding. For more than 20 years, the company struggled to figure out how to market itself. Its current models are luxurious, but cost-cutting is evident in some of the cars’ materials. They are stylish, but, until recently, the design language has gone through several iterations and nothing seemed to stick.

Infiniti has sought to fix these things. The company started to break away from Nissan in 2013 — part of a bid to differentiate itself and stop being one of the luxury car market’s also-rans. It brought on ex-Audi exec Johan de Nysschen as its president in 2012, and de Nysschen sought to make Infiniti the Japanese equivalent of BMW.

The effort was more or less unsuccessful, and de Nyssechen left Infiniti for Cadillac two years after he started.

Roland Krueger was installed as president of Infiniti Motors US in 2015. On the creative side, the company hired Karim Habib as head of design, who previously designed for BMW and Daimler AG. Habib will start at Infiniti in July.

If there’s a silver lining for Infiniti, it’s likely to exist in the ranks of its design team. The automaker has a handful of new or refreshed models in the pipeline and one of them, the Q60 luxury sport coupe, is a stunning example of what this brand can do if given room to fly.

Infiniti recently lent us a 2017 Q60 Red Sport 400. Here are our impressions.

The Q60 has some striking characteristics and it all begins up front. Sculpted headlamps and a strong, imposing grille evoke a commanding presence.

The Q60’s stance is handsomely brutish. Its muscular exterior — seen here in Midnight Black — is a striking contrast to the leather-clad, Gallery White interior.

The black headliner inside hovers over sculpted white leather seats.

This car’s full name is: Infiniti Q60 Red Sport 400. The “400,” as you may have guessed, represents the car’s advertised horsepower.

(side profile)

Infiniti could stand to streamline its naming structure because the Q60’s badging tells all kinds of conflicting stories. There’s the “Q60S” on the back …

… and the “S 3.0t” on the side …

… but there’s no place on the car that says “Red Sport 400 …”

… and that’s probably a good thing.

Here is the first of this car’s two biggest shortcomings: Infiniti’s InTouch interface is generic and its maps look outdated. There’s also no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto capability. One large, high-resolution screen would have been preferred over the stack of two screens seen here.

Quality of materials are the second downside. Infiniti hit the right notes on the big themes with the Q60S. It is powerful, attractive, and luxurious. But, as with any car in the luxury segment, details matter.

The doors are stitched in more of the Gallery White leather, but the silver carbon-fiber-style trim is thin and plasticky. The door handle is light enough to feel like it was transplanted from a much cheaper car.

You get more of that thin silver trim on the center console.

Taken together, the mix of materials on the inside are not deal-breakers. It’s quite nice, despite that. But tech-savvy drivers will curse the generic, uninspired infotainment system.

The twin-turbo V6 might help take your mind off of that. It revs beautifully and sounds like a V8 during spirited driving.

And you aren’t likely to get bored with these looks.

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