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Engines on test: Infiniti Q60 2.0T (Mercedes-Benz M274)

Can an engine that shares the vast majority of its architecture with a six-year old Mercedes-Benz sourced inline four provide Infiniti's low-slung coupe with performance to match its looks?


We’ve been left a touch confused following some time with Infiniti’s Q60, with the working analogy being that it’s sort of like a 55 year old wearing Nike Air Max trainers. Individually, inoffensive, but together there’s a weird vibe of someone desperately trying to be something they aren’t.

The stylish, low-slung car is powered by a six-year old, Mercedes-Benz sourced 2.0-liter, inline four (M274), and is paired to an in-house developed seven-speed automatic transmission. And here lies a large part of the Q60’s problems. The gearbox, much like supermarket own-brand cereal, is similar in concept to other units but leaves an odd aftertaste. A claimed ‘half-second shift time’ might be achieved on the dash’s digital readout, but the reality is there’s a noticeable delay on upshifts which becomes even more apparent when really pressing on – regardless of the selected drive mode. A secondary point on that is the multiple drive modes have no discernable influence on the overall driving experience – but do offer a multitude of options on various menu and submenu screens.

The transmission’s clumsiness is compounded by a tendency to downshift violently, skipping down two cogs most of the time, even when the revs are building steadily in the pre-selected ratio. The annoyance of a gearbox that is wholly inappropriate for its surroundings is finished off by Infiniti’s reluctance to fit its cars with paddle shifters, meaning any manual shifts have to be executed via the tunnel-based shifter. In a comfortable seating position, the lever’s awkward placement forces the driver’s arm in to all sorts of contorted positions in order to execute either up or downshifts.

The need to kick down through the gears is, perhaps, necessary because of the M274’s lack of real-world, useable torque across the rev-range. Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz both claim the M274 produces 350Nm between 1,250 and 3,500rpm. Ample power to help move the 1,756kg Q60 down the road, or so you would think. Try accelerating in third or forth gear from around 2,500rpm and the Q60 will immediately shift in to second and as the revs begin to swell again, you are left feeling underwhelmed by the shove in your back until the needle reaches the upper end of the rev range. Adequate is perhaps the best way to describe the Q60’s performance. Which is odd, as the 1991 cm³ unit uses jet-guided combustion, multi-spark ignition, a high-pressure (200-bar) fuel pump and an extensive water-cooling system to help deliver the, impressive on paper performance figures.

Infiniti also claims a combined mpg figure of 41.5mpg. Even with the best will in the world, we struggled to crack 30mpg which is more than disappointing for a car with a claimed 0-60mph time of over seven seconds. Whilst this sounds like a damning report of the car, there is an awful lot to like about it; the Infiniti is exceptionally well insulated against NVH, and as mentioned once it reaches the upper-mid rev range the Q60 gathers speed exceptionally well and in a linear fashion. Away from the drivetrain, the Q60 is also blessed with some of the comfiest and most supportive seats I've ever sat in, the Bose sound system is exceptionally good, and the ride quality on most surfaces is superb. 

We'd wager that the latest addition to Nissan's VR engine range, the 3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo VR30DDTT, with its all-aluminium construction and 400bhp output, is far better suited to the Q60's overall persona and would make it the car the 2.0T should be.


15 June 2017

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