What the Q50 gives away there, though, it gains back on the driver aids front. For starters, you’ve got Infiniti/Nissan’s Around View monitor that provides a near 360-degree view of what’s going on around you at low speeds. I’m especially a fan of the camera sitting above the front-right wheel, that ensure you don’t come to close to the curb when parking, which could have you clipping one of those gorgeous rims in the process. Navigation, predictive forward collision warning and emergency braking also come as standard on the Red Sport – they’re optional on the Lexus – as does blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. That’s just the standard stuff; our car’s $3,800 technology package upgrades the standard blind spot system (warning chimes, blinking lights) to an active one that will actually apply the brakes if you start to wander into another car’s path. In that same vein, an active lane departure system is also added. Add adaptive cruise control, and you’ve pretty much got an autonomous car that isn’t.

The Lexus? Well, it rings in at just over $5,000 less than the Infiniti (thanks in no small part to that tech package), but to get a similar amount of equipment from the Lexus, you have to add another two grand or so, and the tech you eventually do get isn’t quite as well implemented as the stuff in the Infiniti.

Brendan says: Far and away, the Infiniti is the tech champion here, to the point that they’ve introduced some stuff we didn’t necessarily want (the drive-by-wire system). And yet for all that, I’d rather have the IS 350’s stereo. Lexus is just so good at the audio thing.

Performance

Brendan says: Can I get the Infiniti’s engine in the Lexus’s chassis? No? Bah.

These cars look the same, but their approach to performance is completely different. The Lexus is the balanced approach, a sort of Japanese answer to BMW. Its 3.5L V6 produces 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque, respectable figures, but not oversauced ones – just a dash of wasabi, please, chef. Activate sport mode, stomp on the throttle, and off the IS shoots, hitting 100 km/h in just under six seconds or so. It sounds pretty good too. I wish Lexus would hurry up and give us the eight-speed automatic you get in the base car, and rear-drive (US) F-Sport models.

But the Q50 straight up stomps it. Infiniti’s twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 is a little bit of GT-R under the hood, making an even 400 hp, and an accessible 350 lb-ft of torque from just 1,600 rpm. There’s nearly no comparison between the two, with the Q60 hitting highway speeds in a little over four seconds. The seven-speed transmission is quick too.

That’s not just respectable, that’s fast. Too bad the Q50 doesn’t back up its straight-line dominance in the handling department.

Dan says: I would say that Mr. McAleer is holding back a little: the Q50 isn’t just fast, it is crazy fast to the point where you have to wonder if it’s almost over the top, and how can a car that cost this feel so freaking quick? Instant traction, plus that great seven-speed auto has you off the line and into the horizon lickety-split, a Nissan GT-R to the Lexus’ baby-ES attitude. It’s all-encompassing, and a nice surprise from Infiniti.

Of course, it’s not that the Lexus is bad; the exhaust note is a proper one, and it will still leave the line with gumption. Of course, it’s plenty fast for most applications, too, and I doubt many buyers will lament any lack of straight-line speed.

They won’t, that is, until they put it up against the Red Sport, at which point even first-time sports sedan buyers will have a hard time denying just how much faster the Infiniti feels. Yes, you gain a little of that back at the pump as the Lexus displayed slightly better fuel economy throughout our test than the Infiniti, but I would hardly call that a knockout punch on behalf of the Lexus.

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