Dan says: While the Infiniti with its 400 hp V6 is the star on the straight-line, hole-shot front, the competition for handling laurels is not quite so black and white.
Our Q50 came equipped with an adaptive steering system that either does the work on its own, or allows you to configure it separately (once you learn to navigate the nested menus required to get at it, that is).
It’s a steer-by-wire system, with electric actuators in the steering column telling the front wheels what to do once the driver’s inputs are received. It’s great in that it lowers response time; not so great in that it really robs the steering of the feel that’s provided by the Lexus. As a result, we found ourselves kind of guessing, a little, how much steering angle was required in turns.
The Lexus, on the other hand, felt the more direct rack; it’s an electronically assisted set-up, of course, but doesn’t feel it as much as the Infiniti did, which stands to reason. Indeed, I actually felt the steering on the Lexus was a little too heavy at slower speeds.
Our Q50 did come equipped with Infiniti’s Active Trace Control tech, however, which can be activated/deactivated from the same touchscreen interface. When active, it applies the brakes to whichever wheel requires it in order to bring the car back on-line. It helps reduce the steering connectivity issues, in a nicely subtle way that doesn’t feel like it’s wrenching the car from your hands.
Both vehicles come with some form of adaptive suspension, though the Q50 is the only one that lets you individually set the dampers. Not that the Lexus suffers too much for this; it’s actually quite good at reading the ground below you and responding in kind. It’s the better handling car, bar none.
Brendan says: It feels to me like the IS was developed on California’s canyon roads and the Q50 on its highways. The latter is a point-and-shoot monster, while the former is more about building some momentum and having a little fun with it. If I got stuck behind a truck on the Sea-to-Sky, I’d much rather be in the Infiniti, which is also a bit more relaxing to drive. On the parts where the road turns twisty, I’d much rather have the Lexus’ chassis and steering. The Q50’s steering is just so numb.
Once again, can somebody pass me the welding torch and the socket set? There’s a really good car here where these two overlap.
Dollars and sense
Brendan says: At $60,680, claiming value victory for the Infiniti is hard to do. The Lexus is also pretty expensive at $55,295, but both are considerable less than the German competition.
However, in this segment, owners are almost certainly going to be leasing their cars, and thus the Lexus’s price advantage isn’t as definitive. Further, if you wanted to have the same level of equipment in both cars, you’d need to check the box for the F-Sport Series 3 package at a price of $2,000. Suddenly, you’re looking at adding $40 a month or so to your payment for an extra 100 hp. For a sport sedan, that’s a strong argument.
If you’re buying, however, I’d strongly recommend the Lexus here. Infiniti does reasonably well on resale values, but an all-wheel-drive Lexus product will simply outperform almost anything in the resale game short of a Toyota Tacoma. It looks crazy, but the IS is a nice, safe bet.
For operating costs, the Lexus is also cheaper to run than the Q50. Official fuel economy results for the Infiniti are 12.3 L/100 km in the city and 9.1 L/100 km on the highway; the IS 350 scores 12.6 L/100 km in-city and 9.2 L/100 km on the highway. Don’t be fooled by the close scores: over the day of driving, we saw the Q50 burn about a litre more of gasoline per 100 km. Turbocharged engines get thirsty the more you dip into the boost, and you’ll want to dip into the boost with the Q50.