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Jorge Velez - Roman Birds Music Album Reviews

Inspired by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, this five-track ambient wonder finds the New York producer letting pulses and motifs overlap until the tracks resemble the inside of a lava lamp.
Jorge Velez has long been prolific, but that’s been especially true in the past few years. Like many underground electronic musicians, the New York producer has taken advantage of the internet’s self-publishing opportunities—in particular, the direct-to-fans platform Bandcamp—to sidestep label gatekeepers, streaming services, and crowded retailers. (Velez’s Bandcamp page currently numbers 26 releases.) Velez first gained recognition a dozen years ago with blippy disco derivatives for labels like Italians Do It Better, but his output has gradually become more esoteric and inward-looking. He’s still capable of ebullient club tracks, as last year’s excellent Forza attests, but many of his long, undulating machine jams sound like late-night missives to himself.



2018 INFINITI Q60 Review

2018 INFINITI Q60 Review
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The 2018 Infiniti Q60 is a luxury coupe with a knockout one-two: devastating shape and savage performance in top trims.

On looks alone, the 2018 Infiniti Q60 should insert itself into many arguments over a midlife crisis coupe. With 400 horsepower available, it should win some too.

The two-door is back this year with the same shape that was new last year and a fairly high score on our overall scale. It earned a 7.2 overall, partly thanks to those looks, which are standard—regardless of powertrain.

Infiniti offers the coupe with a trio of turbocharged engines and a 7-speed automatic across the board. All-wheel drive is available everywhere, and a bevy of luxury add-ons can make the Q60 feel opulent.

The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 208 horsepower, but spec hunters will be more satisfied with the Sport’s 300-hp V-6 or the Red Sport’s prodigious 400 hp.

The Red Sport falls short of vaunted M- or AMG-badged cars, but only because it lacks the brakes and curve control to post consistent lap times.

And tracking the car would miss the mission of the Q60 to begin with—it’s luxury liner, not a track monster. Equipped with softer hides in Sport or Red Sport models, the Q60 is spacious and opulent for two and capable of eating up long hauls. We have our quibbles with an overly complicated touchscreen setup and a drive-by-wire steering system that’s almost ready for prime time, but those are minor concerns.

The Infiniti Q60 looks great in a major way anyway.

Not much has changed from last year, only some trim level renaming to fall in line with the rest of the Infiniti lineup—and that’s mostly a good thing.

Subtle but gorgeous exterior accents help us forget that the Q60 has less-than-ideal proportions for a coupe.

After a grand entrance last year, the 2018 Infiniti Q60 soldiers on this year with its enticing new shape.

We say the exterior is better than good, it’s great. The interior isn’t anything to sneeze at either, which is how we land on our styling score of 8 out of 10.

We’re split on the nose (especially the pinched metal) but we’re more than sold on the rest of the car. In front, hockey stick-shaped chrome surrounds around the fog lights double-time as square jowls that pronounce the Q60 in a way that its predecessors couldn’t.

The coupe’s best moves are reserved for sides, according to us. It’s a traditional coupe shape, but made better by more glass and a kinked rear roof pillar that double-backs on itself. And in case you miss it: Infiniti chromed it.

The rear is a short decklid punctuated by a lip spoiler that hangs over the Infiniti badge. Down below, the car's only right angles are found on the lower fascia, which helps the wide rear tires look wider on the road and small dual outboard exhausts are finished with a satin chrome in top Red Sport models.

Inside, the Q60 looks sharper dressed in white (it’s even acceptable past Labor Day) that helps make the cabin look bigger than it actually is.

Good engines and better road manners help the Q60 chew up miles.

Not much has changed for the Q60 this year, which is to say, it’s still a hugely powerful coupe that can keep pace with most of what comes from Germany.

The Q60 Red Sport’s eye-popping 400 horsepower from its twin-turbo V-6 may get the most attention, but we’re more concerned with how the coupe handles at legal speeds.

We give the Q60 a point above average for its impressive array of engines, including the standard 2.0-liter turbo-4, and its polite road manners. It earns a 7 out of 10 on our performance scale. 

Base trims are equipped with that 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 208 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque. In our turns with those cars, we’ve found the 2.0-liter to be adequate for the coupe’s intended mission: grand touring.

We admit that we could be swayed by the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6’s song, however. In Sport guise, the 3.0-liter makes 300 horsepower, and Red Sport models reach the vaunted 400 hp figure. The 100 horsepower difference can attributed to two factors: money (naturally), and the amount of boost force-fed into the engine. The Sport and Red Sport’s engines are mechanically identical, the latter just turns up its wick.

Despite its prodigious power, the Red Sport isn’t much of a track monster, unlike the M- or AMG-badged versions. The Infiniti coupe is better in a straight line—the Red Sport runs up to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds (or slightly longer in rear-drive configuration), and its eager to turn its wide 20-inch tires into thick black marks on the road.

All engines are mated to a 7-speed automatic, which is available with paddle shifters in Sport and Red Sport trim levels. At lower speeds the 7-speed seems to hesitate, but it becomes a more willing accomplice at higher speeds, deeper into the throttle.
Red Sport models get beefier suspension bits to help put power down to pavement, including an adaptive, independent double wishbone front setup and independent rear multi-link components in the back.

Infiniti offers a dizzying number of customization settings for its dampers, throttle, steering weight, and Active Trace Control, which is a brake-based torque vectoring control. We’ve found that the settings can make a subtle difference, but we were more than content to leave it all alone and set the Q60 for a comfort cruise.

Infiniti’s newest Direct Adaptive Steering “steer-by-wire” system makes an appearance in the Q60, and while we agree that the system is better than previous iterations, we only recommend it for the tech goodies that come along with it.

The system is quicker to respond to inputs and helps make the Q60 more maneuverable at lower speeds. At higher speeds, the new system has a more natural feel, but only when we turned the weight all the way up to Sport+.

Infiniti makes standard the steer-by-wire system when opting for advanced safety options, so we’ll take the good with the better, we suppose.

Brake check
Perhaps our biggest gripe with the Q60 Red Sport's performance is one that we've also found with the Q50 Red Sport—bigger boost demands better brakes.

The Red Sport gets beefier rotors front and back over standard models, but after a half-spirited sprint in the hills outside San Diego, our noses informed us that the aluminum stoppers needed a rest.

Base models of the Q60 make do with 12.6-inch rotors up front and 12.1-inch rotors in the rear, while Red Sport editions get four-piston 14-inch front stoppers and two-piston 13.8-inch rear brakes. Upgraded brakes should be on the short list for anyone looking to take their Q60 Red Sport to the track, although we suspect that will be a very small number of buyers.

We'll stop short of giving the Q60 a demerit for that simply because of its mission. It's a luxury cruiser, after all.

Comfort & Quality
The Q60 is beautiful for front-seat riders. Call shotgun or better still, grab the keys.

The 2018 Infiniti Q60 is a luxury sport coupe—in that order specifically. It’s exceptionally appointed and can be incredibly comfortable for two.

Unsurprisingly, we give points above average for the front seats and the interior appointments. The rear seats aren’t bad—they’re just not great. We land at an 7 out of 10 for comfort.

Infiniti designers drew a big, bright cabin into the Q60—one that feels even bigger in light-colored upholstery.

The front seats are generously bolstered with plenty of support for Midwestern frames. (Lateral boosters can pinch in the sides if you’ve found a gym in the last few years too.)

We’ve found that the front seats are widely adjustable and we think that most body types won’t have a hard time finding a natural position in the driver’s seat—provided you can swipe the keys first.

Outward visibility in the Q60 is generally good, and bulges over the front tires should help drivers place the front wheels despite the coupe’s long hood. Blind-spot monitors help overcome fatter roof pillars in the rear of the car, but we found visibility to be generally good overall.

Infiniti has slathered the interior with high-quality surfaces that you usually touch, reserving the cheap stuff for places that you usually don’t.

The glove box is big enough for an iPad, and the interior has small—but several—places to store items for long interstate slogs.

Infiniti punches above its class in higher trims of the Q60 with beautifully finished speaker grilles (talk to us, Germans) and soft hides.

Much of our time was spent in a Q60 Red Sport licked with a deep shade of blue on the outside and beautiful Gallery White leather on the inside. (Another winning combination? Deep blue with a red leather interior.)

We have our nitpicks: the shift knob feels slightly out of place (it’s too tall) and the lower touchscreen is a magnet for smudges (it’s too glossy).

Our only ergonomic quibbles with the interior? The shifter knob feels fairly tall for the low coupe, and the bottom touchscreen's high-quality glossy display seemed like a magnet for finger smudges and smears.

The Q60’s trunk holds 12 cubic feet of cargo, which is smaller than the BMW 4-Series’ 15.1 cubes. But despite casting a smaller shadow than the 4-Series (the Q60 has roughly two fewer inches between the wheels) we prefer the Q60’s back seat.

The Infiniti Q60 is lacking a complete set of crash tests.

Federal and independent safety officials aren’t keen on throwing luxury cars into walls often (it’s not very cost-effective) so we’re withholding our official scores for now.

In the unlikely event they change their minds, we’ll update this space.

Until then, the 2018 Infiniti Q60 comes equipped with a standard menu of safety equipment including airbags for driver and passenger, rollover airbags, and side-curtain airbags for rear passengers. A rearview camera is standard on all models as well.

In addition to standard traction and stability control systems, Infiniti bundles its Active Trace Control system to nearly imperceptibly brake inside wheels around corners to help carve a tighter line. It’s a performance feature that doubles down as a safety feature too.

Luxe, Sport, and Red Sport trim levels can be equipped with a suite of active safety features that includes blind-spot monitors, a surround-view camera system, rear collision warning, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.

Those models also can be equipped with a technology package that bundles automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning with active lane control, but it requires Infiniti's "steer-by-wire" system, dubbed Direct Adaptive Steering, to be ordered on those cars. We’re mixed on that steering setup’s effectiveness otherwise.

Infiniti hits all the right marks on base Q60s, but Red Sport models have the looks and the muscle that make the coupe.

The biggest change for the 2018 Infinti Q60 is what the automaker calls its coupes—not what’s in them.

That’s mostly a good thing. The Q60 earns its luxury badge with a good complement of standard features including 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, keyless ignition, synthetic leather seating, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera, and a dual touchscreen setup for infotainment that we just can’t even right now.

Those standard features are good and Infiniti offers excellent options, points for both. The touchscreens are big and easily readable—especially the bottom screen—but they’re confusing like college-level calculus, call that a wash.

Infiniti has streamlined the Q60’s trim levels to reflect the rest of the 2018. The Q60 is offered in Pure, Luxe, Sport and Red Sport trims, similar to other cars in the Infiniti stable. The Pure trim level serves as the base, and it’s only available with a 2.0-liter turbo-4.

Those models are equipped with the aforementioned base features and an optional power moonroof.

Stepping up to Luxe trim levels makes that moonroof standard, adds a premium stereo by Bose, optional navigation, and an optional suite of advanced safety features that we cover separately. Infiniti offers the Luxe trims on 2.0- and 3.0-liter models.

Asking any more from the Q60 requires the bigger 3.0-liter V-6, which is equipped on Sport versions and higher.

Q60 Sport models are equipped with an adaptive suspension, softer leather upholstery, carbon fiber trim, paddle shifters, and aluminum pedals.

Not content with a silver “S” on the back? Opting for a Red Sport—with its red “S”—adds several thousand dollars to the bottom line, but more importantly adds 100 horsepower under the hood for a total of 400.

Q60 Red Sport models go the distance with staggered-width 20-inch tires, unique exhaust finishers, and tri-coat paint, which is exclusive to Red Sport models.

All-wheel drive is available on all models for $2,000 more, and Infiniti’s unique steer-by-wire system is available on Sport and Red Sport versions.

Fuel Economy
Base Q60 coupes are relatively fuel-efficient, but opting for a bigger engine won’t penalize much.

The base version of the 2018 Infiniti Q60 is rated by the EPA at 22 mpg, 30 highway, 25 combined. That’s with a turbo-4 and a lot of tailwind. That’s good enough for a 7 out of 10 on our ratings scale. 

As power goes up, gas mileage goes down.

Fitted with the larger, 3.0-liter turbo V-6 that makes 300 horsepower and the Q60 is rated at 19/28/22 mpg. Ask for 400 hp and that figure slightly drops to 20/27/22 mpg.

Opting for all-wheel drive doesn’t hurt much; just a 1-mpg drop across the board in models where its available.

The Q60 is competitive in its class, but not at the top of it. The BMW 4-Series manages 25 mpg in most models, same goes for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupes when equipped with its turbo-4.


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