Infiniti Q60 VS BMW M2
- Great looks
- AEB even on this base spec Q60
- Grunty engine
- Not as engaging to drive as the Red Sport
- Restricted head and legroom in back seat
- Confusing double decker screens and media system
- M2 is awesome
- Turbo-petrol fours' lag
- Tight rear room
- Fiddly (8sp auto) gear shift
One day Nissan's luxury sub-brand Infiniti could grow up to be as popular as Toyota's Lexus, but it'll take more than just time and brand awareness to get there – it will have to build outstanding cars that impress us, as well.
When I drove the top-of-the-range Q60 Red Sport at its launch a few months ago I called it the breakthrough car for Infiniti. Now we're testing the entry point into the line-up – the GT, which likes to imagine itself as keeping the BMW 420i and Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupe awake at night, but really rivals the Lexus RC 200t.
So, is the Q60 GT outstanding or should you ignore it and go straight to the Red Sport with its bigger engine and Sport + driving mode if you want to be impressed? And what is it like to live with when you've taken your race face off and need to pick up the toddler from day care, then do a load of shopping on the way home?
We found out pretty quickly when we lived with the Q60 GT for a week.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
If one is good, two must be better, right? Or twice as good. The question is whether that simple equation adds up for BMW's upgraded 1 and 2 Series siblings – the former, a range of five-door hatches, the latter, a line-up of cabriolets and coupes, with a major addition in the shape of the full-house, performance-focused M2.
Prices are up, and changes are mostly under the skin, so you're not getting big visual bang for your extra bucks. But the new and improved 2 has plenty to offer when it comes to added spec and tech.
BMW invited us to the new car's Australian launch program along Tasmania's wet and wild west coast.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Beautiful looks, good handling, but the driving experience of the Q60 GT is let down by a numbness and disconnection relative to what's happening under you. Refinement isn't on the same level as its BMW and Benz rivals, but the GT is a perfect match for the RC 200t, while remaining good value for money. If you have your heart set on an Infiniti Q60 then I'd skip straight to the top and opt for the Red Sport.
Would you buy a Q60 GT or pay a few thousand more for a Mercedes-Benz C200 Coupe? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
The BMW 2 Series coupes and convertibles combine understated good looks with great dynamics and top-shelf quality. Extra equipment, especially the iDrive6 multimedia system, has brought it up to speed in terms of tech and value, while the M240i sets the compact performance benchmark. And if you really want to push the envelope, the M2 is right there at the top of the under $100k performance pyramid.
Is BMW's upgraded 2 Series on the compact sports-luxury car pace? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
The Q60 GT is a head turner – literally. Whenever I was driving slow enough to notice, people were rubbernecking to look at the long, low-slung coupe. I'm sure most had no idea what brand of car it was, but in its 'Iridium Blue' paint the Q60 looked amazing with its curvy, sleek profile.
There's only one small issue – the RC 200t and Q60 GT are way too similar looking, right down to their 'signature' shaped c-pillars. I prefer the grille of the Lexus but the rear of the Q60. While there might be a bit of copy-catting going on, both are prettier than their BMW or Benz rivals.
The Q60 GT feels fairly large to drive and the dimensions don't lie – 4690mm end-to-end, 2052mm across with the wing mirrors unfurled, but low at 1395mm.
The cabin treatment is just as emotional as the exterior, with its dual screens, swoopy dashboard and sectioned off driver and passenger cells.
The biggest visual clue to the revised 2 Series is the circular design bi-LED headlights, now standard on the 2 Series entry 220i, and mid-range 230i models, while hexagonal adaptive LEDs are standard on the top-shelf M240i.
But BMW couldn't leave those little light-emitting diodes alone, with LED front fog lights joining one-piece L-shaped LED tail-lights across the range.
Luxury Line-equipped cars feature a subtly revised nose treatment with larger intakes and a reshaped 'kidney' grille. There are also four new alloy wheel designs – a 17-inch alloy fitted standard to the 220i Luxury Line, and three optional M alloys for M Sport models (all no-cost options on the M240i).
The 230i M Sport features black, high-gloss bars in its kidney grille, as well as a black chrome finish for the exhaust finishers.
On the inside, there's the addition of a 'Black Panel' digital instrument cluster, which remains matt with the ignition off, and lights up with sharp graphics, configurable across conventional speed and rev readouts, as well as gear position, engine-efficiency data, vehicle settings and nav guidance.
There are also high-gloss finishes across the centre stack and front console, and even greater attention to detail around panel joins, trim stitching and switchgear.
But the hero is the latest iDrive6 multimedia system, run through an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen (6.5-inch on 220i), providing access to live content, radio and audio, navigation and maps, phone functionality, and vehicle settings through a simple and customisable app-style interface. The iPhone really as inspired car companies.
The M2 boasts M-specific instrument display content and a go-fast red needle on the tachometer.
The short answer is not very practical - but then no two-door sports car really is. So while the front two seats are roomy (although the optional sunroof restricts headroom) the same can't be said for the back seats – at 191cm tall, not only can I not sit up straight (because of the sloping roofline), I can't fit my legs in behind my driving position.
While those large doors open wide the roofline and the lack of rear doors means trying to insert a toddler into his car seat was painful and involved kneeling in the street, there were days we took our much less fancy SUV just because it was easier.
This is a four seater – with two cupholders in between the rear seats and two more cupholders up front. Storage elsewhere is limited, with tiny pockets in the front doors and a small centre console bin to hide your phone and wallet.
The boot is also on the small side at 341 litres – don't compare this to the 423 litre of cargo capacity in the RC 200t which is measured in VDA litres. That said, there was more than enough room for our weekly shop which fitted in snugly, although you have to hoist your shopping bags high to clear that boot lip.
Surprisingly, at a little over 4.4 metres long, the 2 Series (Coupe) is around 10cm longer than its 1 Series hatch stablemate (M240i +15cm), but aligns with its just under 1.8m width, and 1.4m height.
It seats four, with plenty of room up front and multiple storage options, including two cupholders in the console with an oddments tray behind, a 12-volt outlet, a lidded storage box between the seats with USB connection, a reasonably sized glove box, and segmented bins in the doors big enough for large water bottles.
While it was coupes only on the launch drive, we know the convertible has a pair of cupholders in the back, but not so in the coupe, and while headroom in the soft-top is okay (especially with the roof down) it's a squeeze in the hardtop.
More a 2+2 than a full four-seater, getting into the rear is an athletic exercise, and once installed, leg and headroom for this 183cm tester is tight. That said, kids up to teenager-size would be fine.
Boot volume is 390 litres (a 3 Series Coupe is 480 litres), with run-flat tyres on the 220i and 230i meaning there's no spare (or repair kit) under the floor, but the performance-focused M240i and M2, pack a 'BMW Mobility Kit' (compressor and tyre sealant to cover minor damage) in line with their high-performance (non-run-flat rubber).
A 60/40 split-folding rear backrest liberates extra load space, and a 'Through Loading System' with luggage compartment dividing net, and 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat is optionally available (220i & M2 Pure - $350 / 230i - $385 / M240i & M2 - $500).
And if you're keen on towing the 220i can pull 680kg of unbraked trailer, and 1500kg braked, with the minimum number stepping up to 715kg for the 230i. The M240i and M2 are no-tow zones.
Price and features
The Q60 GT has a list price of $62,900, undercutting the Lexus RC 200t by $2000, but what you might find surprising is that the Benz C200 Coupe is only $3500 more than the Infiniti, while the BMW 420i in the Luxury grade lists for $69,900. Depending on how you look at it, either the Germans are affordable or the Japanese are expensive. Perhaps a bit of both.
What's for sure is that the Q60 GT's standard features list is substantial. There's 8.0-inch and 7.0-inch 'double-decker' screens, sat nav, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, six-speaker stereo, LED head- and fog lights, proximity unlocking, heated and power adjustable front seats and leather upholstery.
The Q60 Sport Premium is the next grade up from the GT and lists for $70,900, while the Red Sport is $88,900.
The 2 Series coupe and convertible line-up ranges across four-cylinder, turbo-petrol models, in 220i Luxury Line, and 230i M Sport grades, with the six-cylinder M240i sitting at the top of the main line-up. Then for the more single-minded enthusiast, there's the hardcore M2; after a year on-sale it's now BMW Australia's best-selling M car (and it's easy to see why; it's fantastic).
Depending on the model, prices have risen by between $1100 and $1900 across the main range, largely because of the extra equipment, especially the tricky iDrive6 multimedia system.
At $52,990 for the coupe and $59,900 for the convertible version, the 220i Luxury Line is the entry-point to the 2 Series range. Equipment highlights include 17-inch light-alloy wheels, the previously mentioned LED headlights and fog lights, 'Driving Assistant' functionality (combines camera-based 'Lane Departure Warning and Approach' and 'Pedestrian Warning with the City Brake Activation'), digital radio, 'Navigation System Business' with 'iDrive6' accessed via a 6.5-inch display, dual-zone climate control air, reversing camera, a leather sports steering wheel, sports front seats, 'Dakota' leather upholstery, plus front and rear parking sensors.
Next rung on the 2 Series ladder is the 230i M Sport in Coupe ($63,000) and Convertible ($73,000) form, which adds M Sport suspension, aero, and brakes, 'Variable Sport Steering', 18-inch alloy rims, high-gloss 'Shadow line' exterior trim, a BMW Individual anthracite roofliner, a leather-wrapped M Sport steering wheel, cloth/Alcantara upholstery in the coupe, 'Dakota' leather and front seat heating in the convertible, electric (front) seat adjustment, plus 'Navigation System Professional' with iDrive6 and a customisable 8.8-inch touchscreen.
Opt for the M240i as a Coupe ($76,800) or Convertible ($85,800), and you're getting more than extra performance from the 3.0-litre turbo six. On top of the lengthy equipment list detailed above, you'll also pick up 18-inch alloys in 'Bicolour Jet Black', 12-speaker, 360W harman/kardon surround sound audio, 'Adaptive M Suspension', 'Adaptive LED Headlights', the Dakota leather trim, and front-seat heating.
As its name implies, the M2 Pure ($93,300) makes spec sacrifices in the name of light weight, including manual seat adjustment and a base (yet, still seven-speaker) audio package, but one of the biggest pay-offs is a standard six-speed manual gearbox. Save the manuals!
It also features 19-inch BMW M light alloy wheels, an M rear spoiler, quad exhaust pipes in high-gloss chrome, bi-LED headlights (with variable light distribution, including cornering lights), 'Dakota' leather upholstery, carbon fibre trim finishers, an M leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control (with braking function), 'Driving Assistant', 'Rear Park Distance Control', and a reversing camera.
The full-fat M2 Coupe ($99,900) reinstates electric seat adjustment, plugs in the 12-speaker, 360W harman/kardon sound system, and adds 'Comfort access' (keyless entry and start), 'Adaptive LED Headlights' (with variable light distribution), and 'Selective Beam with anti-glare High-Beam Assistant'.
A vast array of individual options and packages covers everything from steering-wheel heating to a smoker's kit (naughty), and (amazingly, given it's standard on the Hyundai Accent) Apple CarPlay (220i & M2 Pure - $436 / 230i - $479 / M240i & M2 - $623).
Engine & trans
The Q60 GT has a 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with drive being sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission. The same engine is also in the Q60 Sport Premium, while the Red Sport packs a twin-turbo V6.
The 220i is powered by a 2.0-litre 'TwinScroll' turbo-petrol four, featuring 'Valvetronic' variable valve control and 'Double-VANOS' variable camshaft control, and developing 135kW at 5000rpm, and 270Nm between 1350-4600rpm.
Using a retuned version of the same engine (lower compression ratio, more turbo boost), the 230i pumps out a solid 185kW at 5200rpm, and a grunty 350Nm from just 1450-4800rpm.
Then, the M240i is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol, pushing out no less than 250kW at 5500rpm, and a thumping 500Nm between 1520-4500rpm.
The full-house M2's 3.0-litre turbo six produces 272kW at 6500rpm, and 465Nm from just 1400-5650rpm (500Nm from 1450-4750rpm on overboost), driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, although a six speed-manual is a no-cost option (and standard on the M2 Pure).
An official combined fuel consumption figure of 7.7L/100km is fairly optimistic and our combination of urban, city and highway running saw the trip computer reporting back to us with 9.1L/100km. Still, that's not too bad considering how much time was spent in city traffic.
Claimed fuel consumption for the 220i Coupe, on the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle, is 5.9L/100km, emitting 135g/km of C02 in the process. The 220i Convertible rates 6.1L/100km (140g/km).
The 230i Coupe is line-ball with that at 5.9L/100km (134g/km), and the the 230i Convertible at 6.2L/100km (142g/km).
The price of performance starts to bite with the M240i consuming 7.1L/100km (163g/km) in coupe form, and 7.4L/100km (169g/km) as a convertible.
Then, as you might expect, the M2 is thirstiest of all, the dual-clutch auto consuming 7.9L/100km (185g/km), while the six-speed manual version slurps 8.5L/100km (199g/km).
Auto start-stop is standard, fuel tank capacity is 52 litres across the board, and although technically these engines can run on anything from 91-98RON unleaded, BMW recommends 95RON premium as a minimum.
I had a feeling this would happen - the GT was disappointing to drive after the Red Sport with the latter's twin-turbo V6, sports suspension, better steering and excellent Sport + drive mode. There's lots to like about the GT, though – the grip is great from the wide Dunlop SP rubber (235 40 R19 front and 255 40 R19 rear), the chassis feels taught, acceleration is good and it's a gorgeous looking car.
But there's a sense of disconnection from the driving experience I couldn't get past, such as the numb feeling in the steering which needed constant re-adjustment. I also think the suspension felt over sprung and lacked composure over small bumps in the road.
The GT and all Q60s don't have the same level of refinement as the C200 Coupe or 420i, evident from the clunky feel of the door handles to the road noise intruding into the cabin.
I'm not a fan of the cockpit. Sure it's brave and expressively designed, but the double-deck screens are confusing, there's one for nav, while the other's for media... I think. Then there are things you don't need, such as a digital compass – actually there are two, one on the display and another in the instrument cluster, but there's no digital speedo.
That 2.0-litre engine is great, but the transmission is a mood killer with it wanting to change up gears quickly to save fuel, even in 'Sport' mode.
Here's a curve ball call for you – I've just stepped out of a, Alfa Giulia Super. Close in price to the Infiniti, same sized engine, but infinitely more rewarding and fun to drive – plus you get an extra two doors.
Four 2 Series variants were offered for the launch drive program, a 230i Coupe (which BMW nominates as the most popular model in the range), M240i Coupe, M2, and M2 Pure.
Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration of 5.6sec for the 230i M Sport Coupe is quick, with the convertible stopping the clocks three tenths later.
Peak torque of 350Nm is plenty, and with that number available from 1450-4800rpm the mid-spec 2 Series is an entertaining drive.
It's M Sport (strut front, five-link rear) suspension keeps the body well buttoned down in quick going, while the beefier M brakes provide strong and progressive stopping power.
Even a firm squeeze of the throttle can't side-step some hesitation as the turbo spools up before right foot pressure translates into forward momentum, but despite the sporty tune, ride quality is good (even riding on notoriously harsh 18-inch run-flat rubber), while response and road feel from the variable-ratio steering are excellent.
The eight-speed auto is beautifully slick, with manual changes, via wheel-mounted paddles, sharp and positive.
Add the grippy leather sports wheel, snug sports front seats, and racy cloth/Alcantara trim (leather in the convertible), and you have a comfortable, nicely balanced and fun-to-drive package.
Accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.6sec (convertible 4.7sec), the M240i effortlessly achieves 'genuinely rapid' status. Yes, it's fast, but never furious, in the sense that even under the pressure of enthusiastic peddling it remains civilised and composed.
Maximum torque of 500Nm is not to be sneezed at, and when you realise that mountainous maximum is actually a flat-top plateau stretching from only 1520rpm up to 4500rpm, satisfying urge is never far away. And the flexible 3.0-litre turbo-six is an aural treat as it howls its way towards a 7000rpm rev ceiling.
The standard 'Adaptive M Suspension' offers settings from 'Comfort' through to 'Sport+', but even in the most forgiving mode the car remains taut and communicative.
The 18-inch rims, shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (225/40 front / 245/35 rear) don't upset the ride as much as you'd expect, although coarse-chip surfaces send rumble through to the cabin.
In terms of ergonomics and general function, the new iDrive6 system is simple and intuitive to use, the current BMW dash and console layout is a model of efficiency, but the two-stage (depress small button on stubby lever, then shift) process to select drive or reverse can be a frustratingly hit-and-miss affair if you need to get going quickly.
Then, the M2 is all business, with a properly focused feel, and the ability to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.5sec for the six-speed manual, and just 4.3sec for the seven-speed dual-clutch. Try not to smile as that g-force shoves you back in your seat. You won't succeed.
Although peak power arrives at a relatively high 6500rpm, maximum torque of 465Nm (500Nm for limited periods on overboost) is ready for action across a broad spread from 1400-5650rpm, so the M2 has adrenalin flowing through its veins at all times.
An electronically controlled 'Active M Differential' manages torque distribution across the rear axle to optimise power down, with the ability to send anywhere from zero to 100 percent of drive to either back wheel.
The 'M Servotronic' steering, switchable through comfort and sport modes, is feelsome and linear in its response, the mega 'M Compound Brake' package (borrowed from big-brother M4) is professional grade, and while the seven-speed dual-clutch may shift faster, snicking up and down the manual's six ratios is a rare pleasure.
Rolling on 19-inch, ultra-high-performance Michelin semi-slick rubber (255/35 front / 275/35 rear) the M2 is never going to waft like a limousine, but if you're signing on for this kind of performance and dynamic ability, some ride harshness over less than perfect surfaces goes with the territory.
The Q60 is yet to be rated by ANCAP, although it's good to see AEB with pedestrian detection is standard, even on the base grade GT. That said, it would be good to see blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance fitted as standard (as you'll find on the Benz C200 Coupe). It's not a lot to ask considering these comes standard on higher grades of the Nissan X-Trail.
There are two ISOFIX mounts in the back and two top tether anchor points.
There are also 'Approach Control Warning', 'Attentiveness Assistant', and 'Pedestrian warning' systems, plus 'Dynamic braking lights, DSC, ABS, 'Braking Assistant', 'Cornering Brake Control' (CBC), 'Dynamic Traction Control' (DTC), cruise control with braking function, a reversing camera, 'Park Distance Control' (PDC) rear (front and rear on 120i and up), and run-flat safety tyres (including a run-flat indicator) for the 220i and 230i. Tyre pressure monitoring is standard on the M240i and M2.
There are two child restraint top tethers across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchor points in each position.
On the passive safety side, all 2 Series models feature airbags for the front, side and head, as well as 'Intelligent Emergency Call' assistance.
The current BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible hasn't been tested by ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
BMW uses 'condition-based' servicing, with the car effectively telling you when it's time to visit the workshop, but the 'BMW Service Inclusive' program offers distance and time options to fix maintenance costs (on a 'Basic' or 'Plus' plan) for up to 10 years/200,00km.
For example, a five year/80,000km service package for the 2 Series costs $1340 for the Basic option (oil service/top-up, annual vehicle check, microfilter, air filter, fuel filter, brake fluid, spark plugs), and $3550 for the Plus pack (adds brake pads and discs, wipers rubbers, and clutch disc and plate).
The standard BMW warranty covers three years/unlimited km.