Infiniti Q60 VS Lexus RC
- 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
- Smooth, effortless V6
- Better looking than before
- Tweaked chassis feels good
- Useless rear seats
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|
It's 2019 and the Lexus RC has been with us for four years which means it's time for a mid(ish)-life update. A glance at the specifications and tech details for its very low-key, late 2018 arrival suggests not much has changed. And let's be fair, it hasn't.
The mild refresh has brought a few changes in spec (in the right direction), price (the wrong direction, but few things are free in this life), and styling (you be the judge).
|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 RC's time on my drive was preceded by a cheaper, V8-powered Mustang, so it was fascinating to compare the Japanese approach to the American. They're not really competitors, obviously, but the Lexus' ability to cosset the driver while still showing a good turn of speed was an interesting counterpoint.
The 2019 RC350 isn't a step-change - if you want one of those, double your money and get the delightfully nutty RC F - but the changes inside, outside and underneath will certainly please the fans even if it doesn't bring in new ones in huge numbers.
Does anyone still even notice luxury coupes? If you do, is Lexus even on the radar?
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.
As a whole, I've always thought the RC to be handsome, but the headlights - as on the IS - always made me wince a bit. There's too much going on, which is weird because the rest of the car is very easy on the eye.
As is common with a mid-life facelift, the work all happens at the front and rear. There's a revised bumper, tweaked mesh pattern in the spindle grille, and a much better looking set of headlights - with much cooler LED daytime running lights and headlights. They're still a bit much, but they're not jarring.
The rear is a little cleaner but I reckon it didn't need much work. Along with new wing mirrors from the gorgeous LC coupe and new wheel designs, it's a subtle update, but a good one.
Inside is little-changed, which is good and bad. A new brushed-aluminium dash inlay, a new (naff) analogue clock, and not a huge amount else. The switchgear has a lovely damped feel, nothing clicks or snaps and it really is very serene indeed. Few cars can match a Lexus interior for feel and touch.
Some of the design decisions are confusing, though. A rotary dial to change driving modes looks more like it should be used to control the media system, and the media system's touchpad is really annoying.
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.
As ever, a sports coupe is the not the place to consider starting your DIY career, but front seat passengers luxuriate with plenty of space. A good-sized glove box joins two cupholders in the centre console which also has a decent-sized bin for hiding things, as well as a sensible place to put your phone (no wireless charging, sadly).
Rear seat passengers have very little space for their limbs or heads but at least the seats are comfortable. Two more cupholders back there, but really, nobody will use them.
The boot is a very useful 423 litres.
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.
While you can have an RC300 in the mid-sixties, the F Sport starts at $77,529, $200 extra than before. On the face of it, it doesn't look like amazing value, but get a Euro competitor and you'll be paying more.
You get 19-inch alloys, a 17-speaker stereo, four-wheel steering, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, active cruise control, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, sat nav, electric heated and ventilated front seats, leather everywhere, a limited-slip diff, variable ratio steering, adaptive dampers, keyless entry and start, and an improved safety package.
The 17-speaker stereo is a treat but the media system is not; controlled from the console by a touchpad, it's hard to use and a pain to navigate. It has Bluetooth and USB connectivity with terrific sound, but it requires patience to operate - which includes the time to get the required qualifications (okay, slight exaggeration). And there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to take the edge off. Pity.
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 RC350 packs Lexus' creamy 3.5-litre, naturally aspirated V6, a step up from the RC300's turbo four-cylinder. Power remains at 232kW/380Nm, driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed torque-converted automatic.
The RC350 cracks the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.3 seconds, which isn't bad considering it's a hefty beast at over 1700kg.
The RC300's turbo four spins up 180kW and an impressive 350Nm if you're keen to save a few dollars upfront and on running costs.
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.
Lexus says the 350 will manage 9.1L/100km on the combined cycle but I scored a rather less convincing 12.8L/100km. Again, that's probably not bad considering its weight. The tricky dash display had me thinking it was an amazing 7.8L/100km, but it was km/L...
There is no stop-start, cylinder-on-demand or battery regen tech to save fuel - features its European rivals all have at least one of.
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.
As it has ever been, the RC350 is one smooth, smooth ride. Even the way the doors open is relaxing: swinging wide open like the hinges are made of butter, (except butter that doesn't melt or sag). Look, I'm trying to avoid saying smooth again.
Engine start-up is barely audible and while pottering about the engine remains just as subdued. It's up to the digital dashboard, with its instruments clustered into a single dial with a digital speedo, to let you know what's going on. Few cars outside of the Lexus stable are this relaxing to drive.
What I don't remember from the last time I drove an RC was all-wheel steering. Either I wasn't paying attention or Lexus snuck it in - but it really makes a difference. It's not as aggressive as, say, the bonkers RC F or Renault Sport Megane, it's just there to help bring the heavy car around. It also seems better sorted than the same system in the bigger LC500. And the steering's variable rack works well with it as a partner, too.
The RC's adaptive suspension is so good at what it does. It never over-tightens the suspension but does make a difference in Sport+. It's not really in the 350's nature to take it out for a good thrashing, but it's certainly capable - if held back a little by its portly kerb weight and soft brake pedal feel.
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.
The RC comes with eight airbags (including knee bags), ABS, stability and traction controls, active bonnet, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, forward AEB and forward collision warning.
There are two top-tether restraints and two ISOFIX fittings in the back.
ANCAP has not tested the RC but it scored a 'Good' rating from the US IIHS test regime.
Unlike parent company Toyota, Lexus offers a four-year/100,000km warranty. Also unlike Toyota, you don't get an absurdly cheap deal on servicing, and there's with no capped-price regime. Lexus wants to see your car every 12 months or 15,000km.
To soften the blow of no capped-price servicing, Lexus will either give you a loan car or, even better, come and fetch your car from you before returning it vacuumed, washed, and serviced.
You also get a fairly comprehensive four years of roadside assist and a few other perks.