Infiniti Q60 S vs. Mercedes C43 AMG: Which One Should You Get?

Photo Credit: Shelby Rae & Aaron Arizpe

I spend so much driving used cars that anytime I find myself in a new car, it’s like running outside in nature instead of grunting away in a gym.  Breathing in fresh air is infinitely better than inhaling stale locker room stench and fighting the depths of physical insecurity.

Recently I had an opportunity to drive a 2017 Mercedes C43 AMG thanks to my buddy Chris Hernandez over at Mercedes of Austin who also let me test the semi-autonomous features of their new 2017 E300.  

Soon after I was lucky enough to drive a 2017 Infinit Q60 S Red Sport that Sean Bowles and Troy Johnson at Austin Infiniti found for me.

Driving both of them back to back, I realized how similar they were in so many ways.  They have a similar amount of power, cost roughly the same and are appealing to the same kind of person: someone older who’s kids have just left for college.  No more putting up with a rebellious bastard or paying for an ungrateful know-it-all. It’s now finally time to make life truly worth living by hitting up the casinos in Vegas. And also buy a new sports car.

My comparison was pretty simple. I came up several categories which an average person (and by average I mean me) would find useful. Whichever car racks up the most points by the end of the analysis wins.


Of course, it’s no surprise that the C43 AMG is more expensive of the two with an MSRP of $62,000. It’s a Benz! However, I certainly wasn’t expecting the Q60 to be priced at $55,000. But then again, a top-of-the-line Maxima costs over $40,000 so what do I know? The Q60 gets the point here for being slightly cheaper. Probably not enough to make a difference to the slot-machine addict who just kicked out his eighteen year old out of the house for yelling: “No dad, I’m not going to college and you can go to hell!”

Q60 – 1, C43 – 0


The C43 has such a luxurious interior that it’s hard for me to believe that it’s only a C-Class.  Just a handful of years ago, Mercedes built a C63 AMG that had assembled the interior using parts from a 99 cent store. With the 2017 C-Class, you won’t know if you’re in an E-class or an S-class because it’s oozing with opulence.

Photo Credit: Shelby Rae & Aaron Arizpe

You’ll find a nicely styled, beautiful wood trim inside which apparently comes straight out of a special forest that only supplies wood for cars interiors. And every time a tree is cut down to fulfill someone’s grandiose fantasy another one is re-planted. Who knew that environmentalism can indeed live alongside hedonism?

The interior of the Q60 is almost as nice—maybe just a tad bit less fancy. I did have one gripe though. The cheap glossy black finish on the center stack diminishes the overall elegance of the Q60’s interior. Infiniti just couldn’t stay away from incorporating reflective material which makes even the most artistically designed dashboard look worse.

The C43 wins here.

Q60 – 1, C43 – 1


AMG owners must be so infuriated with this car.  The C43 AMG doesn’t have the one man, one handbuilt engine per car that AMG owners get so hot and bothered over. It’s merely a rebadged lowly C450.  But who cares what they call it? They could’ve named the car “The Greatest Supercar Built By Mercedes” and I’d be fine with it. The 3.0L Biturbo V6 in this car is excellent and generates 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft torque. It’s mated to a 9G-TRONIC double-declutching (whatever that means) transmission that shifts aggressively and quickly. The C43 might lack the brutality and insane torque of a traditional AMG but is still feisty in a good way.

The Infiniti Q60 S has a 3.0L twin-turbo V6 that puts out 400 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque but the difference in power is negligible compared to the C43. It’s probably only noticeable on a track or a drag strip. Driving these cars around casually, you’ll think that these cars have the same pickup.

On the power front, it’s a tie in my book.

Q60 – 1, C43 – 1

Exhaust Note

The Q60 S is agonizingly quiet. One of the reasons I liked the G35 back when it was first introduced was because it had sporty exhaust noise to accompany the spirited nature of the car.   But now they’ve taken that away with the Q60 S and left it with nothing. With no manual transmission option, no engine noise, you might as well be driving a Tesla Model S.

The C43, on the other hand, had a much better than expected rumble from a biturbo V6. Apparently Mercedes offers a performance exhaust option which would be a must-have option for the car. In the sound department, the C43 AMG is the clear winner.

Q60 – 1, C43 – 2

Q60 v C43 rear
Photo Credit: Shelby Rae & Aaron Arizpe


I’m glad that the Q60 I drove didn’t have direct adaptive steering (steer-by-wire with no mechanical connection between the steering and the wheel) that has generated so much controversy. Even with improvements baked into the latest Q60, I’m fine with just the normal electric power-assisted steering. I didn’t particularly enjoy the handling in either car (probably because I’ve gotten used the M5’s super responsive steering), but I’ll give the edge to the Q60. It handled turns better with less body roll. The Q60 also makes you feel more confident about turning in with a bit more speed than the C43.

Q60 – 2, C43 – 2


The Q60 transmission wasn’t quite up to par with slower and clumsier shifts compared to the C43’s 9-speed transmission. If we don’t have the option of manual transmission anymore, automakers should at least get the automatic version right—especially in cars that are supposed to be exciting. As drivers are becoming more of an afterthought in modern cars, we need something to wake us up in the morning.  But I suppose car companies don’t care since robots are going to take over the world anyway.  

Q60 – 2, C43 – 3


I like the front end of the C43 but in general it’s a dull design that’s too rounded. The Q60 S has a sharper design that prompts you to take a second look. It demands attention whereas the C43 states: “Sure, you can ignore me if you want. I don’t care. My life sucks.”

Q60 – 3, C43 – 3

C43 front end
Photo Credit: Aaron Arizpe

So is it a tie?


Neither Troy nor Chris gave me a Kit-Kat bar to sway my opinion one way or the other, so this is really just my own opinion. I really wanted to like the Q60 more because I’ve always been a fan of the G35s. But the C43 AMG won me over with its sound and crisp transmission. The Q60 was just not as engaging as the C43.

For this much money, I’d still get a used 480 hp 997 911 Turbo, but if you really wanted a new car, the C43 AMG would be the one to get. Just be sure to stay away from other AMG owners who will be vigorously trying to remove the AMG badge from your car.

The Greatest Accessory To The Phone Is Almost Here And It Won’t Be Just Tesla

Tesla summon

Lately, it’s been impossible to avoid running into some kind of news about self-driving cars on a daily basis.  Either it’s about the Google self-driving guru who just quit, or Tesla’s autopilot killing people or headlines that read “Self-driving cars? Who gives a crap?”

Well, regardless of what anyone thinks, self-driving cars are almost here.  Fully autonomous cars will be ready for everyday use much sooner than we think.  And their emergence will mark the beginning of a pivotal shift in society–a true disruptive force–changing the way the economy works.  But, the biggest concern that I have, the thought that keeps me up at night is: “Why can’t I sleep?”

I used to think that it would be decades before self-driving technology would be ready for prime time.  I mean, think about how complicated self-driving is.  Humans can barely drive cars properly and we’re pretty intelligent–actually, that’s not true–we’re idiots.  How long would it take a machine to be just a little bit better than being an idiot in order to drive itself?

There is so much information to process when someone is driving a car: avoiding obstacles on the road, monitoring what other cars are doing, or thinking about cutting off the car in an adjacent lane during a momentary fit of road rage.  How can a driverless car possibly determine the proper execution of road rage?  Flash the lights? Honk? Side-swipe?  All three?  These are some of the most challenging and complex issues that Google engineers need to tackle.

I thought that solving these insanely tough problems might take many many years, but when I came across this article, I started to think about all of it differently.  The author points out that we could very well be standing at the cusp of what is a huge advancement in artificial intelligence, about to surpass anything our short-circuited brains can comprehend.

As the charts below show (taken from here), humans are terrible at perceiving progress.

human progress

We tend to think of advancement as being a simple straight line sloping upwards, when in reality it’s more exponential in nature.  As human beings, we are incapable of seeing things for how they truly are.  Our perception is so distorted that we think all 2,345 of our Facebook friends love us, when the truth is–they all wish we were dead.

Here is a way to think about it.  Let’s say a Kia Soul is artificial intelligence.  And this Kia is waiting to take off at a drag strip. You’re standing at the quarter-mile marker of a drag strip with your eyes peeled on this Kia that’s about to take off.  From that distance, it looks like it will take forever for the Kia to get to you, but as it picks up speed, it approaches you quicker and quicker.  And before you know it, artificial intelligence will fly past you at the blistering speed of 42 miles per hour, well on its way to 42.5 mph.

Alright, maybe the drag strip analogy wasn’t as good as the chart below that technologist, Jeremy Howard, presented in a talk recently.  The point is that technological advancement is occurring at an increasingly accelerated rate.


It may well be that advances in artificial intelligence are continuing to gain momentum and it’s probably much more developed than what the general public might be aware of.  You might be wondering at this point, what does any of this have to do with cars and self-driving?

Because self-driving, at its core, is powered by machine learning and artificial intelligence.  All this just means that the technology could almost be ready for driverless cars to become a reality very soon.  Tesla is already proving this to some extent and Uber just made an announcement recently that they will be launching self-driving cars on a trial basis by the end of the month!

Aside from the philosophical theorizing in the article, take a look at just how many companies are involved in this race to build self-driving cars.  It’s kind of shocking.  There are 30+ major car companies, automotive suppliers and technology companies working in some capacity to make these things come to fruition.

self driving companies


When there are this many companies putting in a humongous amount of resources into something, you can be sure that progress will be made very quickly.

What’s the key to making driverless cars happen?  A Beeellleeeon dollars.   Toyota recently made a $1B investment in artificial intelligence and GM recently bought Cruise Automation for $1B.   I’m sure other companies are spending many more billions.

Ford, GM, VW, Toyota, Nissan all seem to think autonomous vehicles will be here in 4 years in 2020.  Ford has already stated that it will launch a fully autonomous vehicle in 2021 and it’s probable that Google and Tesla will be rolling them out even sooner.

Audi is working on an autonomous A7, named Jack, which is going through extensive testing and is currently being trained to act like a human driver.  This idea is so bad that it makes the decision to adopt a skunk for a pet seem like a perfectly sensible thing to do.  What will Audi do?  Teach Jack to cross over 5 lanes of traffic in a split second to take that exit?  Start texting, not pay attention and rear-end someone?

It’s funny to see what tech giants in Silicon Valley think of this whole self-driving business.  Mark Andreessen, famous Silicon Valley venture capitalist and investor says “Right now the phone is an accessory to the car, but soon the car is going to be an accessory to the phone.”

Oh great–the car will be nothing more than an extension to a smartphone.  Apple, our favorite smartphone manufacturer who has contributed to an increasing downward curvature of the head, or “text neck” as some people like to say, is also working on a secret car, which will be the greatest accessory to the iPhone the world has ever seen.

Everybody wants a piece of the action.  Nobody wants to be left behind, especially incumbent giants like Ford and GM.

So, yes, these accessories to phones are coming soon.  And it’s not just Tesla.  When these vehicles begin to slowly populate the planet, rest assured that human driving isn’t going away any time soon.  It will be many years before regulations are changed because the government’s number one objective is to prevent any progress from ever taking place.  Dealing with the most expensive and sophisticated accessory to the phone will confuse the hell out of government officials.  In the meantime, we can take advantage of all that confusion, and enjoy driving for as long as we can.  Greatest accessory to the iPhone be damned!

Don’t Bother Driving On A Real Racetrack: Here’s A Great Alternative

video game simulator

The other day I was browsing through my Facebook feed, crammed full of pictures of pudgy cats, crossfit selfies and burnt toast (need to unfollow some folks), when I came across Newton Liu’s post. He’s an avid Jalopnik reader, creator of RENNWelt and had just posted a clip of hooking up an Oculus Rift to his racing game simulator.

For those of you who might not know what an Oculus Rift is, it’s not an XBox game about alien civilizations, although it would be a great name. The Oculus Rift is actually a virtual reality headset that fully immerses you in a computer-generated world, one that can entirely change how you experience video games. I’ve tried it once before and it was a stunning experience. I could only imagine what it would be like to play a racing game with the headset on, so I had to try this out for myself.

I went over to Newton’s place and he showed me what he had put together. He could see the awestruck look on my face but told me not to be too impressed by his setup because it was a couple of years old and built on a budget. That’s fine. I like cheap stuff and his gaming rig looked perfectly fine to me. Why go for a $1000 bottle of a wine when a generic $5 bottle can do the job just fine? I’ve been wanting something like this for myself so I asked him about the specifics of his setup. Here’s the breakdown.

Racing simulator driving chair and rig from eBay:  $315

Logitech G27 racing wheel, pedals and gear-shift from Amazon: $822

Oculus Rift: $560

Build your own gaming PC or buy one that’s already made: $510

There you go. For a grand total of $2207, you can have a great virtual reality (VR) driving simulator for the house. Of course, a TV and an audio system would be an additional expense unless you already own them. But assuming you purchase those during a Black Friday deal by trampling over others, for $3,000 or less, you could have something that can provide consecutive days or weeks of solid entertainment. You may even forget to sleep or eat.

The big deal here is the addition of the Oculus Rift. It changes everything. Playing racing games that imitate reality on a two-dimensional screen can be fun but also frustrating. Unless you know what you’re doing, you’re usually not going fast. With games on a screen the sensation of speed is best when you’re bouncing off walls and other cars like in Need For Speed. Dealing with realistic scenarios that require effort and avoiding crashing into others can get annoying. You might start thinking: “Screw this, I just won’t take the kids to Disneyland and go drive on a real track instead.”

But the mindset transformation takes place as soon as you put on the Oculus Rift. You’re immediately transported into a completely different environment—inside a car on a track in this case. It’s weird how quickly you forget about your true physical surroundings and how your perception totally changes. You can look all around you and feel like you can physically touch things inside the car. Watch Newton in this clip as he explores the Ferrari 458 he is in.

We were playing Asetto Corsa which is one of the best driving simulators made for the PC. With the Oculus Rift experience, you’re inclined to drive the car like you would a normal car and treat it as such. When you’re driving fast and taking hard turns, you’d swear you can feel the G-forces. Obviously it’s all made up in your head but it’s crazy how powerful a truly immersive visual experience can be. I’m sure I was ducking and looking like an idiot squirming around in the seat as I hit wall after wall after wall.

These experiences are so life-like that professional racecar drivers use these games to practice. The cars act and handle the way they do in real life with all the physics and driving dynamics accurately replicated by the game’s software.

I spent a good amount of time in a Ferrari F40 and quickly realized how pathetic I was at driving it fast. The turbo boost kicks in so quickly that if you mash the pedal too quickly the tail kicks out putting you into the wall. There’s lots of learning I’ll need to do before I ever go near an F40 on a track, assuming I ever get the opportunity. It’s far more likely that I’ll get struck by lightning first.

To truly go fast in Asetto Corsa you’ll need to know how to drive and not just fumble around, which is what I was doing. Here’s Newton masterfully tackling the Nurburgring.

He has driven on the actual Nurburgring in Germany and thinks that this game is a pretty good representation of how it really is. I saw him manhandle a maniacal Porsche RUF CTR with entirely too much power in the game. I was jealous of his driving abilities—wish I could do that.

As I was playing Asetto Corsa, with my butt stuck on that racing game chair, I realized that this was the perfect way to become a better driver. I’ve been to a few track days but it’s so infrequent that each time I go it’s like starting over. Without regular practice it’s impossible to get good at this. It’s not like you can play the guitar a few times a year and expect to get a record deal.

But with Asetto Corsa, you can gain and improve driving skills so that when it comes time to hit the track, you can enjoy going fast without crashing. But why even bother with track days anyway? It costs too much to replace brakes, tires and keep fixing up the car. The VR Asetto Corsa is the ideal cheaper and safer alternative to actual racing. The simulation feels so real at times that you’ll forget it’s all fake.

The VR experience also hit me with a depressing notion. This may be the only way for us car people to enjoy driving once self-driving cars start roaming our streets. What happens if human-driven cars are outlawed in the future? Would we only be able to drive in VR? Wow, what a nightmarish thought. Let’s move on.

Until that horrific scenario potentially becomes reality, this Oculus Rift-enhanced gameplay is a great way to have some fun and drive some sweet cars like a McLaren P1, Ferrari 488 or a Zonda. Cars that you may never get the chance to race otherwise. The best part is you could practice for months on end, go to the racetrack and kick some ass with everyone thinking that you’re some sort of racing prodigy. Who knows, you may even get a call from a racing team.