Production of the all-new INFINITI Q60 sports coupe has started at the company’s manufacturing facility in Tochigi, Japan. Designed and engineered to perform, the Q60 offers a compelling combination of daring design, exhilarating performance and dynamics. The Tochigi plant has been producing INFINITI vehicles since the brand was launched in 1989. The launch of the new INFINITI Q60 heralds the start of a new chapter in the plant’s history. To meet the requirements of the new model, a series of upgrades have been made to the production line, and innovative manufacturing processes have been introduced.

Upgrades to production lines

Industry-leading advances in manufacturing enabled INFINITI designers to draw the sharp angles and body lines that are characteristic of the Q60. The stamping and assembly lines feature key improvements, notably through the adoption of a unique deep-body stamping technology and new tooling machinery for the model’s unique resin trunk lid. To further enhance quality control, a new lighting system for the inspection process and a camera and video system on the assembly line have been introduced.

Manufacturing, design and engineering teams worked very closely together to ensure that the unique trunk lid feature for Q60 can be realized with the highest quality at the Tochigi plant. In a world’s first application, this trunk lid is a hybrid combination of a resin skin on a steel frame. It gives INFINITI designers more freedom to develop shapes that can then be built in a single part.

Dedicated paint booth for “Dynamic Sandstone Red”

One major enhancement to the Tochigi facility is a new dedicated paint booth, which has been installed solely to allow production of Q60’s new “Dynamic Sandstone Red” paint finish. The glossy, deep red finish requires a new painting set-up, using a combination of machinery and manual processes developed by INFINITI’s most senior coating experts.

The new paint booth enables workers in the Tochigi paint shop to more finely control paint thickness and quality, and the newly-developed “Dynamic Sandstone Red” paint process is the result of testing several hundred variations of paint formulations and application methods.

My Drive this week was the Toyota Eighty Six. Or is it Eight Six? I think most people are familiar with Eighty Six, so I’ll go with that. The Eighty Six is Toyota’s first sports car in a long time, and was developed in partnership with Subaru, which also sells their own version, called the BR-Z. When it first appeared on the Australian market three years ago, it heralded a return to sports cars by the Japanese company that many said was long overdue. What I think is really amazing though is that despite not making any form of sports car for around a decade or more, Toyota really managed to nail it on the head with the 86. It looks good, sounds good, and most importantly, drives really good! Let’s take a look.

The Toyota 86 is a sleek looking two door coupe, and the company says it’s inspired by its more successful sports cars of old, the 2000GT and the Corolla Sprinter 86. It’s got that aggressive stance, particularly thanks to the angry headlights. The body follows the lines of your typical coupe, curving upwards for the cabin and then downwards towards the rear. It looks great and just feels right, and this is a theme throughout the 86 actually – it gets the feel, the balance right for a sports car throughout.

Once we jump inside you can see where the inspiration for the cockpit came from. Dashboard switches and knobs are all inspired by the simple levers you find in a race car, while the instrument cluster is defined by its large tachometer with a digital speedo – again, perfect. The seats snuggle up to you and have loads of lateral support to keep you firmly in place, but they’re soft and comfortable. They’re a lovely place to be, as long as it’s in the front. Yes, this car does somehow manage to find the room for two back seats as well, but it’s a tiny amount of room only and I wouldn’t want to go back there unless I absolutely had to. They’re really for emergency use only. The boot is the same story – it’s positively tiny with only 217 litres of space to use.

But we’re not here to start transporting cargo with this car, we’re here to drive it. And driving is what the 86 does so well. It’s powered by a two litre, four cylinder boxer engine courtesy of Subaru. It’s been tuned to produce a maximum 147 kilowatts of power, which is pretty high for a naturally aspirated two litre engine. Torque tops out at 205 Newton-metres all the way up at 6400 revs, so you can see the kind of torque map Toyota was going for here – very high-rev focused. For racing, that’s perfect. The engine mates with a six speed manual or six speed automatic, connecting to the rear wheels through a limited slip differential. So that’s the specs, but the driving? In a word – balance. I tested the manual variant and I was amazed at the responsiveness of the 86. It reacts immediately to the accelerator pedal, which helps you take off smoothly and quickly. The engine is very relaxed and calm until around 2500 RPM, when the torque begins to seriously increase as you head towards the 7400 RPM redline. The gearshift has a medium throw and slots through the gears with such smoothness that feels just so satisfying.

And the engine sound. This isn’t the same boxer engine you find in a WRX or anything like that. It sounded like someone had ripped out the exhaust system from my test car and bolted on a hot dog muffler or something. Well maybe not that bad, but that was the kind of sound – the sound all small engine sports cars should have. The temptation to push the car past 3000 RPM just to hear that sound was just so strong and believe me, I lost that battle many times. It’s a beautiful sound and one that longs for a racetrack to be unleashed. The 86 would be right at home on a racetrack, not least because of its handling. This car is perfectly in tune with the driver – turn the wheel and almost instantly the car turns. It stays flat and composed, and even building speed around the corners, it keeps its composure until you really push it, when the rear begins to break traction and drift. At this point the stability control will catch the car, but you can turn on a sports profile for the stability control that will allow the car a touch more oversteer before bringing it back to line. It ensures the safety of the car, but it also ensures even more fun. The suspension is taut and firm to enable this level of handling, while the braking system does its job with aplomb, pulling up the car with more than enough ease.

Toyota offers the 86 in two variants. The entry level GT comes standard with 16 inch alloy wheels, cruise control, seven airbags and a reverse camera that runs on a 6.1 inch touchscreen with USB and Bluetooth. The top spec GTS adds to this with a load of convenience features – proximity keyless entry, HID headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, climate control air, leather seats and satellite navigation. You can also get an option pack for the GTS that gives the 86 an even more aggressive body kit, including an oversized rear spoiler.

The 86 is on sale from $29,990 dollars plus on-road costs. If you enjoy going to track days or for any form of light racing really, the 86 will be an absolute blast. As I said at the start, it looks good, sounds good, and drives really good too. It has to be one of the most balanced sports cars I’ve ever driven. That’s it for me this week.

August 29th 2015
Albert Malik

Peugeot is looking to expand its GT Line of performance vehicles in Australia with the launch of its refreshed 508 range in the first quarter of 2015.

Joining the 508 GT Line sedan and touring, Peugeot Australia will launch another GT-badged vehicle, the 308 GT, with further sports models a distinct possibility in the near future.
National Marketing Manager for Peugeot Australia, Dimitri Andreatidis, said that the expansion of the GT Line would add to the allure of Peugeot vehicles in Australia.
“Australians love performance and sports-oriented models, as proven by the response to the 208 GTi, so there is an opening for us to talk to a range of customers who don’t necessarily want the high-performance experience of a GTi variant,” said Andreatidis.
“The GT Line will give us the ability to offer a vehicle that offers visual and performance upgrades, while still maintaining comfort in day-to-day driving duties.
“The first step in broadening the GT Line will be the launch of the all-new 308 GT in 2015. From there we will be working with France to investigate a number of opportunities to grow this segment in the future,” said Andreatidis.
The new-look Peugeot 508 GT will launch in the first quarter of 2015 and feature a range of performance and visual upgrades, including a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel drivetrain developing 150kW and 450Nm, double-wishbone front suspension, unique 19-inch alloys, GT badging, and Bi-xenon directional headlamps.
The all-new 308 GT will also launch in the first quarter of 2015 and will bring with it the choice of two engines; a 150kW 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine developing 285Nm, or a 131kW 2.0-litre turbo-diesel developing 400Nm.
Both drivetrains will be complimented by an exclusive styling, dynamic and interior package – including:

  • -A new signature colour for the GT called Magnetic blue
  • -Firmer and more responsive power steering
  • -More responsive accelerator pedal mapping
  • -More responsive shifts from the six-speed transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddles
  • -Amplified and more sporty engine note
  • -Exclusive interior trim and steering wheel
  • -Red illumination for the instruments
  • -Instrument panel displaying read-outs from the car’s computer, including levels of power and torque being delivered, turbo boost pressure, and longitudinal and transverse acceleration
  • -Exclusive GT badging
  • -18-inch alloys