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The Road to Palm Springs with a Q60 Convertible

2014 Infiniti G60 Convertible in Venetian Ruby (John Grafman)
2014 Infiniti G60 Convertible in Venetian Ruby (John Grafman)

By John Grafman

Production cars aren’t made to sit in a garage gathering dust, or travel about as a trailer queen. A car is created for the open road. On a sunny day it’s hard to beat the pure joy of driving with the wind in our hair, and plenty of power underfoot.

This year, the Southern California sunshine-to-rainy day ratio comes in at a staggering 99 to one!  Not one to temp fate, and ensuring a rain-free road-trip for this review, we aim the GPS towards Palm Springs.

The Infiniti Q60 Convertible seems like an ideal match for a good, old-fashion road trip! The 3.7-liter, V6 offers endlessly gobs of power, and the seven-speed transmission provides seamless shifting, and it’s always in the right gear for the moment. Best of all, there’s top down pleasure for four passengers, which is a feat few can match.

But, this doesn’t really come across as a new model. In fact, the $56,555 ($47,900 base price) Q60 is the new name for the Infiniti G-Series. While the name has changed, not much else has (for better or for worse)—albeit the Q is now offered in a radiant Venetian Ruby red paint.

Right from the get-go, the Infiniti is a smooth driver. The drive along the 10 Freeway towards the desert is pleasurable and quiet with minimal wind or road noise. The coupe is in line with what we expect in a luxury brand when the folding hard top is employed. Honestly, the drive experience has the makings of a solid, refined, grand touring car.  

The Q60 interior, clad in soft leather, is alluring, making us feel that this is the right choice for a cruise. The 8-way power with manual lumber support adjustability (optional two-way power lumbar support available), and heated seating makes this a comfy jaunt. Just as important, as we are in the desert, the optional Premium Package includes a chill your bottom-side down to a frozen rump roast, cooling functionality for the front seats.

The Interior Accent Package also adds a nice touch with a high-gloss maple wood trim on the center console, the doors, and the dash. However, this is still a mixed bag of goodies.

One would think this was made especially for desert cruising with four-cup holders found up front, allowing us to be hydrated to our heart’s content. The cup holders in the door panels are a handy spots for sunscreen too.

It doesn’t take too much driving to realize that when the three-panel retractable hardtop is down the Q60 doesn’t handle in a very sporting manner. The additional weight and up high in the vehicle feels like, well, there’s too much junk in the trunk.

Not only does the top down driving mess with the handling, the space in the trunk is all but obliterated. With the top up, and without the spare tire kit, there’s a nominal 10.33 cubic-feet available. The area that remains after the roof is folded down is roughly equal to a large shoebox, a hair less than two cubic-feet.

While the warm temps in Palm Springs require minimal clothes, nevertheless, an overnight trip is going to require more luggage room than the Infiniti Q60 Convertible will offer us. In fairness, this isn’t the only hardtop convertible that offers minimal trunk usage with the top down. But, it doesn’t make us happy either.

So, in an effort to keep this train on track we simple redirect the luggage from the trunk to the rear seat whenever we wish to have the top down. Then, for security reasons, we return the luggage back to the trunk when the top is up, and the car is parked. Yes, what a hassle. The small rear seats are really geared for kids, and as such, the overnight bags snuggle perfectly in those spots.

I can just see the discussion now with families of four; well, if the take the Q Convertible we can take the kids, or the luggage—it’s one or the other. I’m sure the kids won’t mind!

Another surprise is the jarring action from the relatively slow operating roofdeployment (taking roughly 30 seconds) is a tad unsettling, as would a mild earthquake. It’s not enough to have anyone diving for cover, but just enough, creating an unwelcomed awareness of the operation.

The Infiniti does include some nifty features for any drive. The optional 13-speaker, Bose Open Air Sound System with noise adaptive technology is perfect for this convertible—a genuine pleasure. The seat-mounted speakers catch the occupants’ ears, rather than ambient noises. The Bluetooth streaming audio found on the Navigation Package is ideal for long hauls, and works harmoniously with the Bose system.

The Technology Package (which isn’t available for the Q60S Convertible with the manual six-speed transmission) also has rain-sensing windshield washers. But, given the conditions we didn’t have the need to enjoy those. Also in the package is the Advance Climate Control System that has superior air purification. Needless to say, having the top down as often as possible renders this feature unnecessary most of the time.

This test-pilot has an affinity for the safety and convenience of radar sensing cruise control units in most cars. This can be a second set of eyes while the driver is messing with some of the other features during a drive. The Intelligent Cruise Control in the Q60, like its competitors, monitors the speed of this car against the other cars within its path, slowing down and speeding up as needed. Sadly, the ICC isn’t as smart as other similar systems integrated into the competition. The Q60 abruptly decelerates unnecessarily, and returns to the speed matching the flow of traffic as slow as molasses on a cold winter’s day.

One of the sudden slow-downs nearly resulted in a car trailing behind the Infiniti becoming one with our rear-bumper. It could use more sensors and better sensitivity and responsiveness to traffic variations. I’m finding myself apologizing a couple times for the antics of the Infiniti to my passenger, and reassuring my companion that I’m a much better driver than what this appears to be when using the ICC.

While it’s easy to think that this car isn’t fit for consumers, you would be very wrong. Now, this doesn’t win any awards for favorite car to take on an overnight trip, yetthis is great fun around town. As long as we aren’t encumbered by luggage or groceries, this is a perfect way to roll around town, or even for short commutes.

The 325 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque provide plenty of giddy-up at the press of a foot. The Infiniti can scale the elevations around Palm Springs effortlessly, like Superman can leap over tall buildings in a single bound. It even has a nice sound to boot. It does have a rear wheel drive, with a manual mode on the transmission, and rev matching for shifting. This does have the premium feel in conservative driving situations. The Q is both competent and stylish for most occasions.

The downside of having a healthy dose of power and a hefty 4,083-pounds is a disappointing EPA estimated fuel economy of 18 MPG in the city, and 26 on the highway.

So, the Q60 Convertible isn’t everything for everybody. On the other hand, this is just as comfortable driving along Highway 111 and simply hanging out in front of the casual, diner atmosphere of Woody’s Burgers, as it is arriving at the vibrancy of The Saguaro hotel, or at the mid-century modern classic design of Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms estate. It has an eye-catching style that makes up for many faults.

This isn’t the go-to car when it comes to utility, but if you think you can pry the keys out of our hands, you’ve got another thing coming. Nevertheless, Mr. Sinatra might suggest when it comes down to the Q60 Convertible, the best is yet to come.


The writer is editor of LA Car. For more information on and photos of the Palm Springs-bound Infiniti G60 Convertible, go to LACar.com.





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James P Hosty April 01, 2014 at 05:23 PM
It does sound better than my Huffy bicycle......

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