Battle of the silica based nano coatings: CarPro CQuartz UK vs GTechniq Crystal Lacquer.
Disclaimer: Any conclusions that I reach in this article must be read with the caveats in mind that 1) I am not a seasoned pro as far as car detailing is concerned; 2) the two cars I tried these products on have very different paint—my 2005 Ford Explorer has very hard silver paint with lots of metallic flake and my wife’s 2014 Hyundai Tucson has very soft pitch black paint with almost no flake.
Both cars were properly prepped for application of the products (the Ford with CQuartz and the Hyundai with GTechniq respectively) with a thorough degreasing wash using Dawn dish soap, multi-step paint correction/compounding/polishing with dual action polisher, and final wipedown with CarPro Eraser and isopropyl alcohol.
CarPro CQuartz UK On Ford Explorer
As I applied CQuartz to the Ford I thought it was tedious and a bit finicky. Not difficult by any means, but you have to pay attention to ensure complete coverage (especially on the light paint) and also to make sure any excess product is completely buffed off to avoid streaks when the product cures. After application it is recommended to wait an hour before applying a coat of CarPro Reload (an easy mist on/wipe off procedure) for best protection.
It took me about two hours total. After the CQuartz was applied I was in no way super impressed by the level of gloss and slickness to the paint (in all fairness, the final result is much more dependent on the quality of your polishing than anything else). It looked good, but I didn’t think the CQuartz added much visually. The application of CarPro Reload changed this noticeably; the paint became much slicker and gave it a glassy look.
GTechniq Crystal Lacquer On Hyundai Tucson
If I thought the CQuartz was finicky, I wasn’t at all prepared for the level of difficulty I encountered with GTechniq Crystal Lacquer. The product applies easily enough with the included cotton pad applicators, but it flashes very quickly and it is important to spread it out and buff off excess residue quickly and completely in order to avoid visible streaks, particularly on darker paint colors. As if that wasn’t enough, the complete process includes two layers of Gtechniq EXO to be applied no less than 3 hours and no more than 12 hours after the Crystal Lacquer. EXO is even more finicky than the Crystal Lacquer and extreme care must be taken to avoid streaks that can only be removed by physically buffing them out and reapplying the product.
From start to finish this was a 10-hour+ project, not including the time it took to correct mistakes I didn’t catch until I pulled the car out of the garage and inspected it in daylight the next day. Similar to the CQuartz, the results weren’t mindblowing after the Crystal Lacquer alone, but after EXO the transformation was nothing less than stunning; the black got blacker, the entire car took on a glass-like sparkle, and slickness was very impressive.
Comparison Between CarPro CQuartz and GTechniq Crystal Lacquer
Application: CarPro CQuartz wins, hands down. While both require more finesse and care than a tradition wax or sealant, GTechniq Crystal Lacquer + EXO gives new meaning to the word “finicky”, with severe penalties for not paying attention.
Results: GTechniq may be harder to work with, but the results make it worth it. While the before/after with CQuartz was noticeable, it was nothing compared to the stunning difference (at least on black paint) I got with the GTechniq/EXO combo.
Cost: GTechniq/EXO is a fair bit more costly than than CQuartz/Reload.
Protection/durability: Both products claim 2+ years durability, protecting against water spots, the effects of harmful pollutants, and even minor scratches. Obviously I’m not able to report on these claims yet.
Is it worth it? Final judgment on that will have to wait until I see how these coatings perform and hold up, but if the marketing claims are true, then the answer is a firm “maybe”. It all depends on how much time and money you are willing to put into your daily driver, and how important it is for you to preserve perfect or near-perfect paint. If you are happy to run your car through an automated car wash (aka “motorized paint flogging machine” or “automated swirl installer”) once or twice a month, I wouldn’t bother. These products are not for you. If you want to preserve that new-car look for as long as possible and are willing to, and capable of, making the (considerable) effort, give it a try.
For the sake of full transparency, when saying “I” while discussing the prep and application on the Hyundai, I really mean “she”, as in Marianne, my wife, who did 90% of the work and 100% of the mistakes.