This is a battle of two $35,000 coupes.
After my third not-at-fault hit-and-run this year, I started looking for something to replace my MKVI Volkswagen GTI in case it was totaled by insurance (it wasn’t, thank goodness). My criteria was not very focused. There was a budget, a door count, and a subjective “must look good” category. At the top of the looks category was the 2017 Lexus RC-300 F Sport. It is a stunner, especially in the “Ultrasonic Blue”. Another favorite of mine has been the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t. Because both of these cars are Japanese, and both start in the mid $50Ks with any options, they are perfect candidates for a hard depreciation hit…and depreciate they did.
Starting with the Lexus. I had high hopes for this one. In my opinion it’s close to the best looking car under $100,000. The aggressive louvers on the rear bumper, the wide angry grill, and the sharp headlights make this a timeless future classic. This particular RC 300 was equipped with almost $8,000 of options which brought it up to an MSRP of $52,000 new.
The mechanical highlights are as follows:
- Engine: 3.5 Liter V6
- Horsepower: 311
- Torque: 236 lb/ft
- Drivetrain: All Wheel Drive
- Combined Fuel Economy: 22.5 mpg
- Transmission: 6-Speed Dual Clutch
Hopping into the Lexus, I instantly felt claustrophobic. At 6’2 and 225 lbs I am by no means a small guy, but there was almost zero headroom and my knees were in the dashboard. However, the quality of the materials is incredible; exactly what one would expect from a car with a retail of over $50,000. But there were things NOT on the inside that one would expect from a car in this price bracket:
- Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
- A decent navigation system with a large display
- An intuitive user interface system
- Cooled seats
- Fully heated seats (The RC 300 just had the lower section heated)
This may sound picky, but when you consider the 2018 Hyundai rental car I had recently, most of these things can come with something with half the MSRP as the Lexus. It really put some perspective on my opinion.
Driving the Lexus was as much of a let down as the interior. It was just plain sluggish. The paddle shifters felt great, but the transmission was lazy., The 311 horsepower felt more like 211 and the steering was numb. As a saving grace I found that the sound system was fantastic, which pleased my audiophile side.
As a solid competitor, I chose the 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t. I’ve had my eye on one of these cars for quite some time, but never got behind the wheel. The Q60 has a phenomenal looking front; both aggressive and sleek at the same time. It has muscles without bulging. It looks angry while being refined. It really is a lovely thing to look at. The rear looks a little unfinished but is growing. However, the front is so stellar, it may be hindering me from falling for “dat ass”.
Here are the performance specs on this one:
- Engine: Turbo 3.0 liter V6
- Horsepower: 300
- Torque: 295 lb/ft
- Drivetrain: All Wheel Drive
- Combined Fuel Economy: 23 mpg
- Transmission: 7-speed Automatic
But enough on the looks, what does it feel like? To put it simply, great! The inside feels snug without trying to crush me. I can tell it’s a small car, but I don’t long for visibility (I’m looking at you Camaro and Lexus RC). The buttons are all intuitive and the touch screen is incredibly responsive. The sound quality and screen resolution are exactly what I expect in a car at this price. Something that both of these cars are missing, however, is Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. I’ll repeat myself, how does this happen in a car this expensive?
The quality of materials on the interior are excellent. Everything I touched was either leather or metal. The seats were comfortable and supportive. As with the RC 300, the rear seats folded down, but there was a much larger opening to the trunk in the Q60. There were no paddle shifters, which was a disappointment, because this car drives like it should.
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 3.0t felt like a true sports coupe. It’s light, nimble, responsive, and quick. This car begged to be driven. And drive it, I did. At the end of the day I didn’t want to give this car back. It felt so solid and planted that it inspired my confidence as a driver. Even on the interstate the Q60 felt like it could be driven across the entire country comfortably. The Q60 has a true duality that not many cars in its class can achieve. Each drive mode transforms the car to fit their respective names perfectly. For the depreciated price of around $35K, the Q60 is the one I would have as a daily driver.