By on February 27, 2019

In an introductory post last week, I detailed a couple of cars I was considering as a replacement to my decade-old Infiniti M. The comments (some filled with unusual anger) prodded me to add another car to the list.

A week later, I can tell you that two of those former options are absolutely out of the question.

The first coupe cancellation was the E350. On Friday, I went to check out a 2017 E400 at a nearby dealer. It was too new and out of my price range, but I wanted to have a look and see if the model was worth pursuing further. After a few minutes of unattended poking around an unlocked car, I had my answer: No.

Doors felt nice and heavy, solid. But upon entering the coupe, the lack of headroom was very apparent for even my six-foot self. Hard leather (or maybe it was synthetic) resided underneath me. Climate control buttons made cheap click-clack sounds when pressed. In the back, the dashboard-type material around the covered cup holder was cracked at two corners. Entirely put off by this quality in a 2017 Mercedes-Benz, I left.

The next day I sampled the Mazda MX-5 (an RF one) which was raised unanimously as the best answer for all questions. I found it loud and buzzy, with accurate steering and a jerky transmission. While the interior was fine from a price point perspective, sloppy seals here and there were required to accommodate the RF’s metal roof. Over my left shoulder, the exposed hinges of the roof were arranged like a metal origami display. At 70 miles an hour, the wind and road noise in the closed cabin was shockingly high. I expected more, and it delivered less. The MX-5 was not for me.

Running out of Saturday afternoon hours, I was on my way to drive a local GS350 when I had another thought — a thought of Infiniti. It dawned on me that I’d driven the high-zoot Red Sport 400 Q60 (too expensive), as well as the economy level 2.0t (bad), but never the standard 3.0t in the middle of the range.

A half hour later, I was looking at the white one shown here. I wouldn’t buy this particular one — it had some bad paint match because of an accident history, and was equipped with unnecessary all-wheel drive. It also lacked the Premium Plus package for navigation (a must have). It was engaging enough to drive, had the sort of quiet isolation I desire, and felt well-made. In person, the looks impressed, as did the power coming from the smooth twin-turbo 3.0-liter. Used market Q60 options will be unfortunately limited by a rear-drive requirement, the navigation which should be standard, and the light colored interior. But the miles and price are right in line.

As of now, just one coupe and one sedan remain as options. The next task will be the test drive of a local GS350. It’s another white, all-wheel drive example (Ohio drivers have a type). Maybe I won’t hate it.

[Images: sellers]

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115 Comments on “Where Your Author Eliminates a Couple of Coupes...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    What is it with this pragmatic approach? You need a classic car :)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Oh just get the AWD model… (Q60 that is) 3.0 TT it will help you put the power down to the pavement in all weather conditions.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I had actually typed that you should look at a Red Sport Q50 in the last post but got distracted here at work and closed it out. I drove one recently listed for about $34k with low miles. I liked it a lot, though unlike you I would have preferred it be AWD. I’m going to guess you are trying to keep the price sub-$30k And probably closer to $25k.
    I’ve noticed the Q60 is thinner on the ground but usually priced a bit less spec for spec with the Q50.
    I think you and I have cross-shopped a lot of the same marks. My window was a little wider though so I was considering a new Charger 392, Kia Stinger GT, and oddly, a Mazda6. My top 5 after driving most of them are:
    1. Lexus IS350
    2. Q50 Red Sport
    3. Charger
    4. Stinger (admittedly the most fun to drive during the test drive when I had it step out making a turn)
    5. Mazda6
    I’ve been hot for the IS for a few years now – despite the looks. And if you haven’t been inside a 2014+ you should check it out. The old back seat was laughable and the current one is much more spacious – though still maybe not actually spacious.

    Oh, and I should point out that I haven’t bought anything.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, $25 is my current area of search. Thought the Q50 RS excited me, I don’t think the regular one has as much going for it, especially with the styling which I find just OK.

      I don’t hate the idea of the IS, but I don’t like the styling at all. And I want more (larger) sedan than that if I’m going that route.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      Hard pass on the IS350, its just too small. The Q50 Red Sport or Charger R/T Hemi would both be an absolute blast to drive. Id lean toward the Charger because it has actual usable infotainment.

  • avatar
    NG5

    I’m not surprised given your stated interests that the MX-5 was not for you, but I appreciate you checking one out and providing comments all the same. It’s good to have some perspective on them, since I drive a pretty loud unluxurious vehicle these days and am thinking of going MX5 someday haha.

    Have you looked at the BMW 2 series? I didn’t see that discussed but it may be a good fit. It’s on my to-consider list but doesn’t have many used ones with manuals.

    • 0 avatar

      Used BMW is not on the table for me, as I’m not willing to deal with the potential maintenance headaches.

      • 0 avatar
        NG5

        Fair enough. For a while the 2 series was tracking well in CR reliability metrics, but it was a new platform so they only had new cars in the sample. Now it’s about average. The E class Mercedes, however, is “worse than average”, so I figured I might as well mention the 2 series if you were considering that at one point.

      • 0 avatar
        The Ghost of Buckshot Jones

        You drove the previous car 15k over 10 years. What on earth “maintenance” costs are you worried about?

        Seriously, your 25k budget pretty much limits you to 50-70% depreciated 2nd or third owner entry level luxury cars. How on earth are you gonna worry about maintenance costs? Buy a decent 996 or go lease a Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      There was a time when a used, cpo warranty BMW made sense. That time ended around 2010.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    If the MX5 was a serious consideration, then you really need to test drive a new Mustang V8. Give the Detroit home team a chance!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I like this idea, but I’m not sure the Mustang’s interior would impress Corey. Given that he could probably find one new in budget might change his perspective. I wouldnt bet on it, though.

  • avatar
    ma93108

    I test drove a base 2017 Q50 and found it to be very fast but treacherous in the rain, can’t imagine how bad it would be in snow! Also I think its older M37 and M35 predecessors were built using better materials and higher quality overall. A pristine G37 coupe if you can find one that wasn’t abused would likely be fun and comfortable for 2 as the rear seat is very tight.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Dinging a Miata for having a cheap interior doesn’t feel fair. Used Q60 sounds good though. It’s a real stunner that hauls the mail, even if it isn’t the last word in refinement.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Buick Regal TourX wagon

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Actually, RWD RCSB Ram R/T

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Dave, are you just mad that you can’t buy a TourX in Canada?

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          I didnt even know that. I just like trolling my author.

          Personally I’ll never buy another sedan ride height vehicle while I live here. The road and transition grading is terrible. Even stock cars bottom out pulling off a parking lot to a main road all over the place.

          Our RVR has been rock solid and awesome (50k kms in 16 months, no issues). Our 02 Accent finally crapped its transmission, and I’m shopping for a 13 Avalanche to put the highway miles on to protect the 10 year warranty miles on the Mitsu. I really like the Avalanche and can happily maintain it on aftermarket parts, wrenching myself and Indy mechanics. GM gets no more of my money.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I can’t believe Dave’s recommending a Buick.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “The comments (some filled with unusual anger) prodded me to add another car to the list.”

    Anger? WTH?!?

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Corey I re-read the comments from your earlier piece . Apart from the old “stick vs manual” thing , I’ve certainly read a whole lot more anger in my years as a TTACer.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    For well under $25K there are loads of low mileage C5 and C6 Corvettes that have been babied and polished by their 70 year old owners. All reports I’ve seen say they are reliable, cheap to keep up, and even get good fuel economy if driven sanely, and the vast majority of automatics. You will never have anything more fun for the money.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Yep, ST or RF the MX-5 is loud AF. I have the ST and on long highway drives it’s actually more pleasant with the roof down (it’s louder, but for some reason less punishing). RF apparently is worse with the top open.

    I agree with whoever said Mustang GT. The interior is a little bit cheap but the car has so much personality and giddyup that you forgive it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’m a hard core domestic fan . As far as coupes go, a Camaro SS is pretty sweet. Having owned one for a short period of time I found it nightmare as a daily driver. Somebody mentioned a V8 Mustang ? If you can find an unmolested one, without the in your face graphics they’re kinda nice. I also wouldn’t rule out a Challenger .

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ahh…something told me Corey wasn’t going to be rollin’ in a Benzo. And I figured a Q60 was coming. That’s a good call!

    Hold out for one in that awesome cherry red color. With tan interior.

    Ever thought about doing Carvana or a similar service?

  • avatar
    ma93108

    Forgot to mention the 2015 GS 350 I tested had the highend nav package with the huge screen and the mouse like controller was simply awful. It makes the crummy I drive in our BMW 7 series a joy to operate in contrast. Check out the comments on the GS 350 electronics before buying one. Otherwise the GS 350 F-sport is fun to drive for a Lexus.

  • avatar

    Definitely would be okay with red, white, light ice blue, or dark blue.

    I’ve looked on their site, but even if they had what I want, as I understand it they do not negotiate at all. Feels like then the pricing wouldn’t be appealing.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    If you are looking at the Q50 and Q60, make sure you test drive them with and without the electronic steering to see which one you prefer, and shop accordingly.

  • avatar
    Fred

    During this winter I thought about getting a AWD car. I don’t want a SUV. Subaru Imprezza is popular around here, I suspect because they are pretty cheap. Since I currently drive a TSX Sportwagon the TLX came up, but it strains my budget a bit too much.

    Now the snow is melting and I discovered Instacart will deliver groceries to my place. So I’ll keep my Sportwagon a little longer, maybe get studded tires for the front.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      You should consider just getting 4 highend non-studded snow tires, likes of Michelin xi3 or Nokian R3.

      • 0 avatar
        Fred

        I already have Michelin, but there is a block long patch of ice on my road that I can’t get over without chains. So I drive about a mile with the chains, take them off for the rest of the trip. Then of course I have put them back on as I get close to home. I think the studs on the front will get me enough traction on the ice.

        • 0 avatar
          rpn453

          Just get a full set. If you’re quick with the wheel and careful about slowing only in a straight line, you might avoid ever spinning it. But the difference between studded and studless can be dramatic on warm, wet ice. For that reason, it is illegal in some Canadian provinces to have studded tires only on the front.

          http://www.skstuds.ca/2015/10/04/the-studless-tire-deception-ice-temperature-and-why-studless-tires-frequently-outperform-studded-tires-in-tests/

          I wouldn’t have any fear of personally running studless winters up front with a decent set of all-seasons on the back as long as nobody else ever drove my car. Car and Driver lapped considerably faster in testing with that setup than with four winters, using the persistent oversteer to their advantage. But I don’t think I’d want to drive anything with studded tires on the front only.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            Go with the Nokian Hakkas if you want to experience the best.

            http://www.skstuds.ca/2019/02/14/2018s-best-the-latest-and-greatest-winter-tires-tested-by-the-naf/

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Corey, that GS is likely the winner. Even in non F-Sport trim, it’s sport firm. No ‘even for a Lexus’ qualifier needed. Great seats. Base stereo is just ok… definitely worth springing for the Mark Levinson unless AM radio or audiobooks are your jam.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t need it to be too firm, so no worries there. I don’t like the metal interior trim on the F-Sport anyway, prefer wood.

      I’m discovering that both the adaptive steer and digital suspension are reserved for the Q60 RS, so I won’t have either of those on a 3.0t.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I think a used Genesis 5.0 2015 and above.Even the v6 is fast on paper.Nice, quiet interior. Updated tech.

    • 0 avatar

      I think if there was one local to check out I’d go have a look. But there are none.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        I’ve got a ’15 Genesis 3.8. It’s a fantastic car but it’s not really remotely in the same category as these others; it’s a luxury cruiser. It can turn if you ask it to, but it’s huge with a capital big, heavy, and relatively isolated. And the nature of the engine makes it not super fun at low speeds.

        A G80 sport with the 3.3T is probably a bit closer to the mark, but those aren’t in the price range.

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    How about a Caddy ATS? There are a surprising number of RWD examples available north of the Mason-Dixon line. Here’s a coupe, perhaps slightly above your budget, but it has the 3.6 V6.

    https://drivechicago.com/cars/2015-cadillac-ats%20coupe-schaumburg_1G6AB1R36F0125534

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Oops forgot you still want a coupe’
    btw JLR does have the best CPO warranty,6 yr 100k bumper to bumper . Which is why I bough a 6mon old LR in 2017

  • avatar
    Wei-An Jack Wang

    2016+ Honda Accord Coupe V6 touring
    CarPlay/Android auto standard
    Should find one in good condition between $20-25k

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Isn’t everything on the road today a “Coupe”? I’d normally give the Lexus GS the nod for it’s durability and reliability, but looking at current Lexus, I have my doubts, at least on the durability side.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Q60 strikes me as a watered-down, lesser version of what you’ve got now.

    I still think you should get the Cosmo. Check off those Autojourno Cred boxes!

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    If you are not into the Miata or the Mustang…
    And if you are not considering my prior suggestion of the Dodge Ram…

    Then how about the Alfa Romeo Giulia? If you get the non-Quadrifoglio model, it can be pretty reasonable in price. Sport leather seats and a nice color:
    https://cargur.us/rjl3L

    I know it’s questionable in terms of reliability, but you can actually be getting some factory warranty and still stay close to your price point.

    Also, you could consider the Porsche Boxster or Cayman.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Buying a used Giulia is like dating a super-hot woman with three baby daddies, and expecting not to be number four.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Giulia is an interesting car… it’s the only sedan I can think of I found difficult to get into and out of. There’s something odd about either the shape of the door opening or the amount of space to move in and out of it.

      This is a big problem as you’d be needing to get into and out of the car a lot at the dealer’s service dept.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    No no no….You are all wrong. Submitted for your approval:

    https://barnfinds.com/1982-chevrolet-camaro-z28/?fbclid=IwAR1c-nazUWbCjdIR3lmu44FyB31OLVpZCoBvDvDTUHBaILvOyw_82sTPHtk

    All she needs is a licence plate on the front that reads “B!+c#!n\'” and Night Ranger’s Greatest Hits.

  • avatar
    relton

    Corey,

    Mustangs with the premium level trim are very nice. My wife even paid extra for the 2 tone interior (black and red), and it is stunning. Even the rental convertibles,4 cyl, have a pretty nice interior. Had one of those the other day.

    Or, you could be really daring and buy my 2007 BMW 335i coupe, excellent condition and complete service history, for only $5500. Sure it may need some work in the future, though probably not for a while, but it’s a lot more fun to drive than any of the cars you’ve been looking at.

    Bob Elton

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Leather test: Press your index finger into the seat material perpendicular to the surface. If it forms an ‘even’ depression, it’s synthetic. It if wrinkles unevenly, it’s real leather. (Check all the panels separately, as ‘leather seating surfaces’ hardly ever means the entire seat is covered in leather.)

    Unsolicited buying guideline: If you do decide to go older, don’t go back past 1996 because OBD-II (and get a scanner with real-time data capability).

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    I wouldn’t put nav as a must have. Lots of options out there that work better than factory nav.

  • avatar

    Problem for the Q60 is that the nav is packaged with things which are required, like heated seats, remote start, and memory seats.

    2-Way Driver’s Seat Power Lumbar Support, Heated Steering Wheel, Remote Engine Start System, Auto-Dimming Exterior Mirrors, Memory System For Driver’s Seat, mirrors and steering column settings, Power Tilt & Telescopic Steering Column w/Memory, easy entry, INFINITI InTouch Navigation System, InTouch services, navigation synchronized adaptive shift control, SiriusXM Traffic including real-time traffic information and voice recognition for navigation functions including one-shot voice destination entry, Power Driver Torso Bolsters, Heated Front Seats

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Sorry to hear that the MX-5 RF was a letdown for you. I blame the automatic!!! (kidding…) Reading your feedback suggests you wanted something a little more substantial than an MX-5 – something built to a higher price point. Hopefully Sweeney wasn’t too much of an awful experience. Peak MX-5 buying season starts very soon so I’m wondering what kind of dealing will be going on this spring.

    My new boss JUST sold his 2016 GS350 (in Cincinnati, but wasn’t the same car from the earlier link) so I was asking him about it. He said two words: “Get one.” He’s already missing the car.

    • 0 avatar

      I think if the MX-5 had the sort of interior pieces and refinement from the 3, it would have been a very different story. But I know that’s expecting too much from a small, lightweight roadster.

      The salesman was a bit pushy, when I told him I wasn’t going to buy something that day, he replied “Why not?” in an incredulous tone.

      Hoping to make time Saturday morning and go check out a GS.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        And that’s where you hit the nail on the head. Every MX-5 I’ve driven (and earlier Miatas) always stood out as a little hollow on the inside. In Mazda’s quest to save every gram of weight, some materials do suffer. At least they are screwed together well – my BIL’s NB-generation weekend warrior Miata still feels solid, but the lighter, hard plastics are the norm.
        Have some fun – wait until the snow starts flying on Sunday, then go out and test some high-powered RWD cars! Just grab the keys with an evil grin and say “I’ll be right back…”

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    What about a later Jaguar XK if you want a coupe? Aluminum body for lightness and a very comfortable interior. From the friends I know who own them, very reliable too.

    Also very safe, one friend walked away after being T boned by a semi. This was on a very rainy highway in the mountains and a idiot in a Dodge pickup (is there any other kind of Dodge truck driver?) was going too fast and tapped the rear of the Jag in an effort to convince my friend to go faster. It was off center and spun the Jag, bounced it off the barrier where it spun again and was hit by a following semi. Car written off, friend fine except for bruising from the seatbelt. Dodge took off of course.

    • 0 avatar

      I am so afraid of maintenance and electrical nightmares. Though I think the XK is beautiful.

      • 0 avatar
        Jagboi

        Through one of the Jaguar clubs I am in I know some XK owners very well. The car seems solid, and nobody reports electrical problems. I think that’s more of a myth of Jaguars from 40 years ago, the XK was a flagship car that was well designed.

        I wouldn’t recommend an earlier XK8, partly because of ZF transmission issues, but a 5.0 XK absolutely.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    OK – since search didn’t turn up references and it’s all a bit TL;DR this morning I’ll be the one to do it.

    Many of your target vehicles appear to strike directly at the heart of pre-owned Model S territory. Purchased from the big T directly, these strike me as some of the biggest bargains out there considering models with less than 50k on then carry a new 4yr /50k warranty plus the balance of the 8 yr unlimited mile powertrain warranty. Some can be had in the $30k range which could leave you enough spare cash for a used Miata as a toy as well. Get into the $40k region and you can get into an 85D with 4.2 second 0-60 and “emissions testing mode”.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I think you should just stick with a GS based on what you describe.


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