The Q60 Red Sport 400 is Infiniti’s top-of-the-line performance-based coupe. It’s based on the same platform as the much-loved G35. But even though the newer version is faster than the G35 and provides more updated tech and other amenities, Infiniti offers only a seven-speed automatic transmission with a manual shifting mode. Drivers who prefer a manual option are out of luck.
But an aftermarket Nissan/Infiniti specialty shop in Phoenix, Arizona has come up with a solution: install a manual transmission in this quick Q60. With ingenuity and skill, the mechanics at Concept Z Performance engineered a way to do this. They explain their process in this YouTube video.
Fast and sleek but lacks a little something
The graceful styling of this Q60 turns heads. Slung about an inch lower and measuring slightly longer than the G35, it possesses both the elegance and the athleticism that drivers come to expect from Infiniti.
With a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 engine that makes 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, the rear-wheel-drive version of the Q60 Red Sport goes from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, which is 1.5 seconds than its predecessor the G35. Reviews of the coupe from both Car and Driver and MotorTrend point out the slight turbo lag of the engine, despite its quickness.
If a driver shifts into Sport or Sport Plus driving mode, it provides the powertrain with a little more zing. But the Q60 Red Sport’s performance is capably beefy rather than dazzlingly nimble. Contributing to the reviewers’ slight frustration is that Infiniti’s seven-speed automatic transmission doesn’t impress as much as BMW’s 4-series eight-speed automatics. And then there is the cold fact that this car doesn’t have an option for manual transmission.
Why not install your own manual transmission?
The mechanics at Concept Z Performance had already been working on some upgrades on a 2017 Q60 Red Sport when they decided that it would be fun to swap out its automatic transmission with a manual one. While they tried to use OEM parts whenever possible, they ended up using a mash-up of OEM parts, custom components, and similar Nissan 370Z or 350Z parts. Some OEM parts would ultimately have to be modified, however.
Starting with the key component—the transmission—the Concept Z team thought the Q60’s bolt pattern for its bell housing that covers the flywheel and the torque converter was similar to that of the manual transmission of a 370Z. But even after measuring it, they would feel confident about it only after the new transmission was installed.
Some tasks in the project were straightforward. A few off-the-shelf 350Z parts were installed, such as a flywheel and a master cylinder reservoir, with the latter needing to be modified somewhat. The team also designed a new hose for this reservoir.
But the team found a few surprises during the work. For example, they discovered that the trigger disc that mounts up to the flywheel was specific to the Q60’s VR30 engine. A new trigger disc had to be designed because no OEM component would match. Also, the mechanics had to machine a new opening for the crank position sensor for it to sync up with the new disc as well as to make a new cap for the original opening to keep out the dust.
The installation of the new transmission also meant that modifications were required in the car’s interior. The CZP team had to trim the transmission tunnel quite a bit to create room for the shifter and the emergency brake. They installed shifter components from the European diesel version of the Q60.
The last hurdle the team faced was whether the car would actually start. The Q60’s original transmission control module, which allows the transmission to communicate with the rest of the car, was located inside the transmission. If the original transmission was removed and replaced with one with a different configuration, how could they be sure that the car would crank?
The mechanics found a pin on the harness of the transmission control module that activated the starter inhibitor relay, along with power, ground, and the signal for the reverse lights/camera. They rigged a basic jumper wire to connect the pins and designed and installed a new harness for the module. And, to their great relief, the car started.
Driving a stick shift in the Q60
After testing and fine-tuning the car, the mechanics were ready to put it through its paces. The car shifted satisfyingly but, as the CZP team noted, the clutch pedal is heavy due to the solid performance-style clutch they installed. One thing is for sure: when you can drive a quick car like this with a stick shift, the Sport driving modes that came with the automatic transmission just seem silly.
The team’s goal was to make the car perform like a factory car and to make the shifting feel as normal (and fun) as possible. From the final clip of the video, where one of the mechanics driving does a burn out with the Q60, it looks as if they successfully installed a manual transmission in Infiniti’s fastest luxury coupe.