It’s easy to see the two Japanese luxury brands as Wahlberg brothers. Lexus is Marky Mark, the one which started off by flexing some low-priced knock-off S-Class clones and has gone on to make big bucks, receive critical acclaim. and fantasize in public about stopping 9/11 while respectful pop-culture writers whistle in awed approval. Infiniti is Donnie, who started out very stylishly but quickly became B-List despite popping out the occasional respected performance.
Part of the reason for that prestige gap between Lexus and Infiniti has to be what you see in this photo, which I snapped on the way back from lunch today. We have two vehicles here which are ostensibly from different brands and certainly don’t share any major dimensional commonalities or mechanical components, but I’ll be darned if they don’t look like the same car to most people.
The Sentra and G37 aren’t the only Infiniti/Nissan efforts which are totally different under the skin but very similar in the metal. Think first-gen Murano and FX, for example. Lexus does it the other way ’round, creating visually different vehicles from the Camry platform. Who’s right? It’s hard to say, but it’s easy to see that buyers prefer the approach where you put lipstick on a pig to the one where you dress a BMW like a Sentra.