Two Litres and Two Doors - Three Coupes

clifford chow
27 Jul 2017
 

Just our luck! 2017 sees the fielding of three different compact executive coupes from three different manufacturers.

They are so different… yet so similar.  

            

The Lexus RC is not a new car, but the 2.0 variant is, lobbing two cylinders and having a straight configuration instead of a V one, then dumping in a turbo to keep things entertaining has certainly kept the rear driven RC attractive as a coupe, and fun to drive.

Audi’s A5, like Lexus has a 2.0 four cylinder turbocharged engine, linked to a dual clutch S Tronic automatic gearbox, but this time, driving the front wheels.

And then, there is Infiniti, which decided that they be different too… The Q60 comes equipped with a traditionally North-South engine arrangement. Two-litres and four-cylinders… What are the odds huh? Just that they’ve decided to tie up with Daimler, utilising the M274 DE 20, Mercedes-Benz engine, as the engine of choice.

How Do They Look On The Outside?
The Lexus had kept to their current design language. There are mixed feelings to this one. Frontal styling is either a hit or miss, radically designed headlamps meet a razor-ish grille with an integrated gaping mouth.

Along the side of the car, Lexus had kept up with the styling game, with very well integrated side-skirts. The rim size of 18” sees a drop of one inch from the V6 model, and that makes it look like something is missing,

Rear styling on the Lexus well-proportion, and in my take, saves the entire car visually…. As long as you can accept that fake-decorative air outlets at the lower corners of the bumper.

Audi has on the other hand adopted a cleaner approach to their compact executive coupe. Their lower front grille leaves an impression of a sleeker car. Folded sheet metal on the bonnet adds to the smoothness of the car’s design. A clever touch is the hiding of the shut line formed between the bonnet and the front fenders.

A little larger than the previous A5, the new car does boast a very attractive set of 18” rims which suits the entire look of the car. Side styling carries some resemblance to the previous A5. The overall side window shape has been preserved on this car, and so have Audi kept that signature wave in the shoulder line.

Rear styling is neat, while tail lamps are sculpted, and of-course feature Audi’s now familiar dynamic turn signal lamps.

Infiniti, has built an executive coupe as well. Like Lexus, Infiniti had kept to the traditional front-engine, rear wheel drive set-up. Frontal styling sees a large mesh grille, with a pinch on the top, with chrome trim touching the headlamps.

One cannot deny that the side styling of the Q60 is very attractive. Flared shoulders adds to a sense of girth to the coupe, while door handles are nicely incorporated into them. A side blade covers the outlet for the air curtains, which are there to smoothen the air buffeting the front wheels. While functional, they do add to a sense of fierceness to the look. Complementing the look is a set of twenty spoke, dual-tone 19” alloys.

The rear boot lid carries on it an integrated wing, which blends so well with the entire design, while rear tail lamps extend from the side of the car onto the boot lid itself.

One could say that the Audi does look the most refined in this case, while the Infiniti does look the best.

Inside the Coupes
Open up the cars and they couldn’t be more different. The Lexus, while high on dash quality, does present quite a bit of clutter. The simplified infotainment unit, while simple, is not the nicest thing to navigate. While buttons on the dash have a fantastic tactile feel, there are just simply too many. The touch-sensitive slider switch to adjust the thermostat might be fun to use for a bit, but we do find it rather gimmicky.

Missing from the Lexus are things like seat memory for their electric seats… yes we know that a coupe can be quite personal a car, but I think they did a little too much equipment removal here. Also, the car could have done better with a mechanical belt forwarder, just like how Audi did with theirs. After all coupes tend to have longer doors, meaning that their B pillars are indeed further behind.

We did however love the seats which Lexus had installed in this car… supportive, and yet pretty comfortable. Butt air-conditioning is a lovely touch, allowing you to keep a cool head, and a cool down-there…

Like any +2 seating arrangement, the rear seats are the kind you’d need to adjust the front units forward in-order for passengers at the rear not to have their knees wedge into the front seatbacks.

Cargo room for the Lexus is a decent 423 litres. Rear seats do fold 60:40, but form a massive kerb between the boot and the passenger cabin. Not very useful, but they did have to accommodate the fuel tank, drive shaft, and exhaust.

Audi on the other hand, presents a clean dash, plenty of straight lines, and a retractable infotainment display. The dash presents a huge departure from their previous chunky and heavy look, and the infotainment screen integrated into the dash.

The analogue dash has also been replaced by a digitised one, which allows users to toggle between different bits of data, and is also able to display the all-important sat-nav, while reducing the size of the virtual dials.

Tactile feel of the A5’s buttons are fantastic, and we could only say, is very ‘Audi in quality’. Rear passengers have decent enough legroom, while headroom is way better than that of the Lexus, and it does feel more airy than the space offered by the Infiniti.

Boot space is a generous 465 liitres, and the 40:20:40 rear seats, fold almost flat.

Infiniti also presents a clean interior, the dual infotainment display is much neater than that of the Lexus, however, they do have the most conventional of interior styling. Unlike Audi’s high-tech NVidia powered displays, Infiniti, Like Lexus had opted to keep things analogue. Less buttons on the dash reduces the amount of clutter and confusion to driver and passenger alike.

Keeping things simple, a small rotary and directional knob and three buttons control the bulk of the top display unit, while the glossy secondary display which deals with the Q60’s settings, also allow you to toggle audio and climate control settings.

Seat comfort is very good in this car, sadly like Lexus, the Q60 does not come with an automated seatbelt forwarder. The belt is held in place with a fiddly plastic attachment which looks almost like it was bought from the car section in Giant Hypermarket.

Like the other two cars, rear seats are not good for adults, a little cramped, really the Audi does score well with rear accommodation.

The Q60 offers the least amount of boot space in this case, with just 342 litres, the rear backrest does fold down, as a singular unit, but the boot aperture is rather tiny.

The Drive
Driving the Lexus reveals a car which is entertaining, offering 350Nm of torque, enough to have the rear step out whenever you call for it… provided you do turn off the idiot traction control.

Their 8-speed automatic transmission transitions well between gears, give the car the beans, and it starts biting harder on the next gear at each change. The conventional suspension damps well, with enough firmness for you to take the small coupe around a series of bends, leaving a smile on your face.

Engine noise enters the cabin, but just… and when there is any, comes with a mild four-cylinder rasp.

Audi on the other hand, with its front-driven platform is the least powered among the three cars. Then again the engine here was built for fuel economy and cruising. With just 190bhp on tap, maximum torque is still a respectable 320Nm, allowing the German car to hit 100km/h in a respectable 7.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the Lexus. All this through a 7-speed S Tronic gearbox.

Unlike its Japanese counterpart, the Audi is quite a bit softer, and hence offers a more comfortable ride. Being a front-driven car, there is more understeer, but this comes very manageable. Turning in to a corner comes with very little plough as well.

One thing which we cannot accept with the Audi is that they have gone the way of producing sporty tones from the cars entertainment system when the car is placed in sports mode. Hey guys, we are after all looking for an adult’s car, not a toy…

Infiniti’s traditional coupe approach of front engine-rear wheel-drive certainly has its merits. Like the Lexus, the rear-driven car offers an entertaining drive, with the rear offering entertaining oversteer. Turn-in reveals very little frontal plough, and the car displays pretty good balance.

The 7-ratio gearbox is powered by the Mercedes-Benz sourced engine, delivering 350Nm of twist and 208bhp.

But which car is really the best here?
While the Lexus does entertain, and has the most power, it does lack in a pretty dash design. Lacking also is the electric seat memory, and those tiny rims, which do not fit so well in the wheel arches and fake air intakes on the bumpers makes the car a little cheap.

Audi on the other hand is features-laden. Interior materials quality is the best, and their buttons have the best tactile feel. The digitised dash makes the mild coupe extremely attractive. With the least powerful engine here, the A5 might not seem such a good performer, but engine innovations mean that the German car does offer the best combined mileage at 18.2Km/L

Infiniti on the other hand does consume the most fuel. While offering the best feel on the road, the instrument binnacle does look rather toy-like. If you can bear looking at every day, the car could otherwise reward you with a very entertaining drive.

Externally, the Q60 is the prettiest of the lot. It does stand out like a person dressed smart but still wearing jeans. The Audi on the other hand, comes across as very formal, while the Lexus is really berms and a singlet…

While we certainly love the A5 for the car that it is, excellent dash and build is seriously unbeatable we do admit, but the Infiniti Q60 has the best mix of driving joy and styling among the three. 

Read the full reviews here:
Lexus RC Turbo
Audi A5 Coupe 2.0 TFSI S Tronic Design
Infiniti Q60 2.0 T

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1984cc
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 190bhp @ 4300rpm
Torque 320Nm @ 1450rpm
Power to Weight 127.1 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 7.3s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 240 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 18.2 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Coupe
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4673 x 1587 x 1353) mm
Wheelbase 2270 mm
Turning Circle 11.5 metres
Kerb Weight 1495 kg

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1998cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 10.1:1
Bore x Stroke (86.0 x 86.0 )mm
Power 241bhp @ 5800rpm
Torque 350Nm @ 1650rpm
Power to Weight 143.9 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 7.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 230 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.7 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4695 x 2069 x 1395) mm
Wheelbase 2730 mm
Turning Circle 10.4 metres
Kerb Weight 1675 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 66 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1991cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 208bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 350Nm @ 1250rpm
Power to Weight 122.9 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 7.3s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 235 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.3 km/L
Drag Coefficient 0.280

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed Auto
Drive Type FR
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4790 x 2052 x 1395) mm
Wheelbase 2850 mm
Kerb Weight 1692 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 80 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs