Driving similar cars back to back puts both into perspective, an unfortunate turn for the sporty Infiniti Q60.
I’d driven the Mercedes-Benz C300 coupe with 4Matic, its all-wheel-drive system, the week before I slipped behind the wheel of the new Q60, which replaces the fine G37 in Infiniti’s lineup.
The Benz and Infiniti are nearly identical in profile, length and wheelbase. But the Infiniti’s ride, no matter the Drive Mode, was inferior, and by that I mean harsh. The Infiniti felt like I was driving on square tires from time to time when the road surfaces turned crumbly. If you live in a southern clime, or California, where smooth blacktop is prevalent, this wouldn’t be an issue. In the Midwest it’s an issue.
Like the Mercedes, the Infiniti is strong on power and handling. This is a luxury sport coupe with the emphasis on sport, so it actually feels sportier than the Benz. It packs more punch with its 3.0-liter V6 with twin turbos. It’ll crank 300 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. It feels powerful from the get-go and will zip away from a stoplight with help from its 7-speed automatic that allows for rev-matching manual downshifts. The Infiniti is fun from a performance aspect.
Handling likewise is fairly firm in all modes and precise so the driver feels in total control. There’s even an all-wheel-drive system on the Premium model I drove, or you can go with the standard rear-drive. This AWD system did not seem to keep the car from spinning its wheels under heavy power on wet pavement as well as the C300 though.
Five drive modes are available via a console-mounted toggle. Those include Snow that starts the car in second gear to avoid wheel spin, Eco (weak power), standard (mostly fine, but still extremely firm ride), Sport (firms everything up as if you’re going racing) and Personal, which seemed close to Sport.
Inside, the tested Iridium Blue Q60 was quiet and attractive with a black over ivory leather interior and ivory leather seats. The car upgraded to semi-aniline leather seat surfaces, a $1,350 upgrade. There was satin chrome trim on the doors and dash along with gray glossy wood, dark maple was a $400 upgrade, on doors and the console. Main gauges are attractive with blue rings for better visibility.
Seats are supportive and comfortable with particularly good side and back support. Plus the front seats are heated and the power driver’s seat has two memory settings (all optional). Sadly the seatbelts are horribly hard to reach. I recommend snagging one before you crawl into the car and either hold on until in the car, or drape it around the seat back’s side cushion to hold it in place until you’re in the car.
The Infiniti also came with a power tilt/telescope steering wheel and heated wheel, both part of the $3,200 Premium Plus package that also included the heated seats and driver’s seat memory function. Awkwardly, to activate the heated wheel there’s no easy button on console or dash. You must instead wait for the car to finish its electronics startup sequence, then press the Climate button to access the wheel heat on the touchscreen.
Infiniti’s touchscreen is easy to use and functions well, plus there’s a voice-activated Bose sound system and SiriusXM radio along with Bluetooth and two USB ports.
A tech package for $1,850 adds intelligent cruise control, blind-spot intervention system (meaning it helps guide you away from what’s in the blind spot), lane departure, high-beam assist and more.
A driver assistance package for $2,250 tacks on the basic blind-spot warning system plus predictive forward collision warning and braking with pedestrian detection. It also includes front and rear parking sensors a 360-degree overhead view camera, cross-traffic alert and rain-sensing wipers.
After seeing all those add-ons, you know the Infiniti is going to be pricey. It starts at $46,300, about $2 grand more than the Mercedes. The test car hit $57,255, with a $905 delivery fee, overall about $1,000 more than the recently tested Benz.
Still comparing the two, the Infiniti’s trunk is smaller, just 8.7 cubic feet while the Benz was 10.5, a noticeable difference.
Gas mileage was lower in the Infiniti, but then we’re comparing a 300-horse twin-turbo V6 to the Mercedes’ 2.0-liter turbo I4 that got 241 horses. The Q60 managed 18.5 mpg while the Benz was 19.9. The Infiniti’s EPA rating is 19 mpg city and 27 highway vs. 23/29 for the C300.
For the record a base Q60, the 2.0t with rear-drive begins at $39,855 with delivery and an AWD version runs $41,855. Those feature a turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 that creates just 208 horsepower, well short of the Benz’s power.
A rear-drive version of the tested Premium lists at $45,205 and moving up to Red Sport 400 model with 400 horses being pumped from a similar V6, starts at $52,205 with rear drive. An AWD Red Sport 400 lists at $54,205.
Certainly the Benz is the more comfortable car to drive and ride in on a regular basis, if you intend to race or simply have a heavy right foot, the Infiniti is the way to go. Soft memory-foam cushions for the front seats might be a wise option though.
Hits: Power, handling, drive mode selection and quiet interior. Comfy seats with good side and back support, 2-memory seats and heated, plus heated power tilt/telescope wheel, sunroof and touchscreen.
Misses: Ride is mostly harsh, seat belts are horrible to reach, small trunk and driver must press Climate button on dash each time you want to activate heated steering wheel.
Engine: 3.0-liter V6 twin turbo, 300 hp
Weight: 3,939 lbs.
Length: 184.4 in.
Wheelbase: 112.2 in.
Cargo: 8.7 cu.ft.
MPG: 19/27 (EPA)
MPG: 18.5 (tested)
Base Price: $46,300
Dark maple wood trim, $400
Premium Plus package (Infiniti InTouch w/nav and voice recognition, SiriusXM Traffic, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, remote start, power tilt/telescope steering column, two-memory driver’s seat, driver’s seat power lumbar, auto-dimming exterior mirrors), $3,200
Driver Assistance package (blind-spot warning, predictive forward collision warning, forward emergency braking w/pedestrian detection, front/rear parking sensors, Around View monitor w/moving object detection, Backup Collision Intervention w/cross traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers), $2,250
Semi-aniline leather seats, $1,350
Direct adaptive steering, $1,000
Technology package (intelligent cruise control, distance control assist, blind-spot intervention system, lane departure warning/prevention, auto-leveling front lights, high-beam assist, front pre-crash seat belts, advanced climate control and Eco pedal), $1,850
Test vehicle: $57,255
Sources: Infiniti, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage