Some can carry people in the back, others just pretend they do

All sub-$50,000 luxury grand touring coupes these days have a seating capacity of four, which means they can theoretically carry two additional people in the rear. The manufacturers usually show a smiling young couple blasting through the countryside in the press photos, and rarely, if ever, four people having a blast. In fact, you wouldn’t even know there were people in the back of most of the cars on the list below.

There are five names on it: the names of the five most important models in the segment and the purpose is to compare their ability to cosset rear occupants... or not, as the case may be. Spoiler alert, none of them are particularly apt at doing it, even though they do have actual full-sized back seats, but if you were to pick yours based on this alone, this is how they stack up - I’ve arranged them in order from least to most spacious.

Lexus RC

2015 - 2016 Lexus RC Interior
- image 567281
Headroom 884 mm
Hip room 1140 mm
Legroom 693 mm

If you want one of the best riding cars in the segment, then the Lexus RC should be on your list. It does a good job of carrying people in the front, with large, comfortable seats and plenty of room around. In the rear, however, legroom is the poorest in this comparison, as is hip room. It’s actually not the worst when it comes to headroom, but it’s not far off.

And the reviews confirm this - nobody is saying you should carry people in the back of an RC; nobody.

Cramped is the word most frequently used to describe it, and realistically these seats can only be used by children or as a base to mount a child seat.

But at least the rear seatbacks are split folding, so you can use the space if you ever need to carry bigger items that wouldn’t fit just in the trunk.

Read our full review on the 2018 Lexus RC.

Infiniti Q60

2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe
- image 801020
Headroom 876.3 mm
Hip room 1217 mm
Legroom 823 mm

More legroom is what the Infiniti Q60 offers over the Lexus RC, but all other values aren’t really that impressive. It too is rated poorly in reviews for its levels of rear passenger space, and it actually has the least headroom out of all cars mentioned here.

It’s also slightly harder to see out of when sitting in the back of the Q60, due to its high window line and kink design element which blocks off exactly the closest piece of glass to a rear passenger’s face.

It does have child seat mounts, though, and the seat back can be folded for extra cargo space, albeit as a single unit - you couldn’t have both extra cargo room and space for one passenger at the same time in the Q60.

Read our full review on the 2018 Infiniti Q60.

Mercedes C-Class Coupe

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe High Resolution Interior
- image 640345
Headroom 905 mm
Hip room 1358 mm
Legroom 813 mm

Mercedes may have a reputation for making cars that are comfortable to travel in, yet its C-Class coupe is only bearable for rear passengers. Sure, it’s better than the two Japanese entrants, but that’s not really saying much. It has only marginally more headroom than they do, but hip room is much improved.

The Infiniti actually beats it for legroom (by exactly 10 millimeters), and like the others, it has child seat mounts and a useful split-folding seat.

Some reviews also point out that it is a bit tricky to get into the back of a two-door C-Class, although it is rated as bearable for medium-sized adults and for short journey.

I have been in the back of one of these, and let me tell you it felt tight: I couldn’t sit straight against the backrest because my head would touch the headliner and the seat was short, and I felt perched on top of it, instead of sitting in it more.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes C-Class Coupe.

BMW 4-Series

2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe High Resolution Interior
- image 702145
Headroom 917 mm
Hip room 1400 mm
Legroom 856 mm

The BMW 4-Series coupe has the most hip room and legroom out of all cars assembled here, losing out only just in terms of headroom - that’s not to say it’s a car adults could travel comfortably in the back of, but it is one of the better choices in the segment in terms of rear space.

It is also far easier to get into the back of, thanks to large, wide opening doors and the shape of its roof.

Unlike its rivals, the 4-Series offers an optional heated rear bench, which shows that BMW actually thought you might try to carry people in the back of it.

And I have been in the back of one of these, and it is certainly better than the C-Class, although visibility and headroom limitations keep it from being recommendable to travel in the back of.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW 4 Series Coupe.

Audi A5

2017 Audi A5 High Resolution Interior
- image 678432
Headroom 920 mm
Hip room 1378 mm
Legroom 830 mm

Audi A5 has the most accommodating back seat in the small luxury coupe segment, and even if it’s by no means great for long journeys, it is the best here. Access is a bit more difficult than with the BMW, but once aboard it’s really not that bad (unless you’re really tall) - it also offers the best visibility of the bunch and even an armrest, showing Audi really did want you to carry people in the back and not just kids or cargo.

But it does both of those things, as well, as it has child seat anchor points and the only 40/20/40 split rear seat in this roundup.

It also has an optional heated rear bench - the only other car to offer it aside from the BMW 4-Series. When I rode in the back of an A5 coupe, I remember being surprised that I didn’t feel cramped - the seats felt especially comfortable for a vehicle of its type, and I could just about lay back with my head on the headrest and only graze the roof.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi A5.

Conclusion

The A5 Coupe is the best at carrying two adults in the back out of all cars in the segment and it has the most going on back there (40/20/40 split, heated rear bench, rear climate controls) and along with the BMW 4-Series is the only car here that wouldn’t become unbearable after 10 miles.

The Mercedes is nowhere near as good as its two German rivals, due to its beautiful sloping and tapering roofline which severely limits headroom and really compromises it as a car to carry two of your friends in the back of. It can be done, and maybe three people can sit comfortably in it if the front passenger’s seat is slid forward far enough, but the fourth passenger won’t be happy.

The two Japanese contenders here don’t really have usable back seats. This is evident in the numbers, as well as actually having a seat in one. With these two cars, you really wouldn’t want to seat friends (or people you care about) back there - they could be used as instruments of torture, especially the Lexus which really has no room for your legs in the back.

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: