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

Categories Mercedes, Torque Affair
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.

Price

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

Interior

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

Power

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

Handling

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

Transmission

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

Looks

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?

No.

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.

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