Weekly car loans allow me to review vehicles for my readers, but it’s rare to have two vehicles delivered the same week that happen to be direct competitors. Such was the case when the Lexus GS350 F Sport and Infiniti Q50S arrived in my driveway. In a side-by-side comparison, these midsize luxury performance sedans managed to distinguish themselves. Here’s how they measured up.
A sports car sets itself apart in several ways, ride, handling, and most importantly, powertrain. The GS350 came equipped with the 3.5-liter V6 with direct fuel and port injection, 306 horses and 277 lb.–ft. of torque. The 3.7-liter V6 that powered the Q50 offered more horsepower, 328, but less torque, 269 lb.–ft.
Transmissions included an eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the GS and a seven-speed automatic, also with paddle shifters, manual shift mode and downhill rev matching on the Q50. They both included a drive mode selector to allow drivers to choose among Normal, Eco, Snow, or Sport modes on the GS and Standard, Eco, Sport, Personal, or Snow modes on the Q to enhance performance.
The F Sport Package on the GS added Sport S+ mode, a sport tuned adaptive variable suspension, and Variable Gear Ratio Steering, among other features.
While all-wheel-drive is available, the test models were configured as rear-wheel-drive sedans; the GS sat on a front independent double-wishbone and independent multi-link rear suspension and the Q sat on a sport-tuned independent front and rear suspension that gave it the rougher ride expected from a performance sedan. Adding to the Q’s sportier feel was speed sensitive power steering, making the Q50 a bit more fun to drive.
The expected fuel economy for each was practically identical with the Q50 earning 20 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city, one more than the GS, and both earning 29 mpg on the highway. I averaged 22 mpg with both.
As luxury nameplates, these sport sedans should be generously equipped with technology. Standard features on both included review cameras, traction and stability control, and anti-lock brakes, but the GS 350 trumped the Q50 by including Safety Connect with automatic collision notification. That neither included a blind spot monitor as a standard feature was disappointing.
The entertainment systems on both included an AM/FM stereo, CD player, Sirius Satellite Radio, and Bluetooth with voice recognition, but the Q50 included its infotainment system, InTouch and two USB connections, while the GS 350 added iTunes tagging, traffic, and climate information via HD radio. The optional navigation system on the Lexus brought Enform infotainment and a striking 12.3-inch display screen with three sections. Navigation on both was optional.
Inside and out, both vehicles were easy on the eyes. I’m a big fan of the distinctive spindle grille on the Lexus and Infiniti’s muscular lines. Both came with leather seating, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry, dual –zone climate control, and a sunroof. While fancier features like heated seats were optional on the Lexus, they were standard on the Infiniti. The craftsmanship and fit-and-finish on both exuded quality.
With a starting price tag that was $5,000 more than the Infiniti and about $10,000 more in packages and extra features, the GS350 surpassed the Q50 in plushness. The as-tested price for the 2015 GS350 F Sport came to $59,200, while the as-tested price for the 2015 Infiniti Q50S came to $47,755.
Sí: Both vehicles bore striking exteriors and elegant interiors.
No: They both came up short when it came to standard technology.