Infiniti Q70 premium sedan road test and review
EUROPEAN luxury car makers had it easy for a long time. Up until about 1990, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Jaguar were masters of their own domain.
It could not last though because, as they had shown with popular small and medium cars 30 years earlier, the Japanese car makers reckoned they could make luxury cars better or cheaper. Or both.
Lexus struck the first blow, then the Nissan-owned Infiniti arrived - and left, waiting another 24 years before coming back with an interesting family of sports-oriented coupes, SUVs and sedans.
Perhaps the most appealing member of the Infiniti range is the Q70 because it rivals everything from Audi's A6 and Merc's E-Class to Jaguar's XF midsizer and the Lexus ES and GS pair.
Q70 has just been given a model realignment and facelift, meaning the Renault-sourced diesel engines have gone and the range has been trimmed from five models to three.
Physically, the front fascia has been made more dramatic with a double-arch radiator grille, and a new front bumper gets integrated fog lights.
The flanks seem a little shapelier and at the back a , more horizontal tail light design gives the car a wider, flatter look and that is helped by a flatter boot line and a slimmer bumper that make the car look lower.
Inside, the car is almost the same as its predecessor but is quieter courtesy of extra sound insulation. Even with 20-inch wheels fitted to the range-topping car (the others get 18s) carrying-on a conversation at highway speeds is not a hard job.
So impressive are the Q70's standard features, it soon becomes a case of looking for what the car doesn't have.
The entry-point GT has a thick-rimmed leather steering wheel, shift paddles and comfy front seats that are a happy blend between sporty and lounge chair. The back seat? Roomy enough and only the really tall or truly miserable will complain.
Almost oddly, Q70 misses out on an automatic boot lid, which is almost a standard feature in this class.
Premium and Sport Premiums also get intelligent cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot warning, forward emergency braking, predictive forward collision warning, distance control assist, backup collision intervention, around-view monitor complete with corner parking sensors, moving object detection, parking guidance and adaptive lighting.
The thing is, the base car is well-equipped enough not to notice the omissions.
On the road
The Q70 feels like what it is: a mid-sized luxury sedan, so Infiniti could have come up with something other than a 'GT' moniker for two variants and a 'Sports' handle for the third.
Put another way, it does not meet the generally accepted criteria for either name and the fully independent suspension seems calibrated more for comfort than cut-and- thrust.
Which means it carries itself with a nice degree of dignity that gives a comfortable ride and there is not a lot to complain about there.
The speed sensitive, power-assisted steering felt a bit too light at low to middling speeds and a bit vague when speeds got up to the higher end of the scale, and even the huge 20-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tyres fitted to the Sports Premium failed to correct that feeling to any major degree.
Preferred powertrain? For me the hybrid, with its extra power and bulkier torque output compared to the conventional V6 engines is a winner, even if it does lose 150 litres luggage capacity because of the battery pack.
The 3.7-litre V6 is nice, but power and torque come in a bit too high in the rev range, meaning it has to be worked hard when it needs to get up and boogie.
What do you get?
In a word, lots. The GT has active front head restraints, auto lights and wipers, a full electronic brake and chassis suite, auto-levelling headlights and daytime running lights, a full colour, 20cm central display screen and rear view camera.
Move up the range and potential Q70 buyers will be dazed at the dealership then spend countless happy hours at home figuring-out how everything works.
The usual German suspects, Audi A6 ($79,990), BMW 5 Series ($82,300) and Mercedes E Class ($80,400), or try the Jaguar XF ($82,800) and Lexus GS range ($75,000).
At 4980mm long and 1845mm wide the Q70 is roomy and its 500-litre boot (350-litres for the hybrid) ensures it can easily cope with a trip away or a big shopping excursion.
Inside, the car has not forgotten its Nissan roots with a control layout that has all the sophistication of a European thoroughbred but the useful practicality of a Micra and that, believe it or not, is an admirable quality.
If nothing else, this latest Q70 shows that Infiniti is getting there. Not that long ago you did not have to scratch the surface too deeply to find the Nissan donor car hiding underneath. Now? The family relationship is more like Lexus and Toyota or Audi and VW.
The car is loaded with plenty of kit to cover both safety and comfort levels and while its styling is bland it is easy on the eye and, unlike Lexus, Infiniti knows how to get the nose design right.
Pricing is not about to slap anyone senseless but the pick of the bunch is the most expensive one, the GT Premium hybrid. Why? Because the conventionally-powered GT and Sports Premium pair feel a bit stodgy by comparison.
What matters most
What we liked: Loads of equipment, powerhouse audio, comfy seats, ride quality.
What we'd like to see: A less-sombre colour palette.
Warranty and servicing: Four year/100,000km warranty.
Model: Infiniti Q70 GT, GT Premium, Sport Premium.
Details: Four-door, rear-wheel-drive, mid-size premium sedan.
Engines: (GT and Sports Premium) 3.7-litre V6 with maximum power of 235kW @ 7000rpm and peak torque of 360Nm @ 5200rpm; (GT Premium Hybrid) 3.5-litre V6 with 268kW @ 6800rpm / 546Nm at 5000rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Fuel consumption: 6.9-litres/100km (GT Premium hybrid); 10.2-litres/100km (GT); 10.8-litres/100km (Sports Premium).
Performance: 0-100km/h 5.3-seconds (GT Premium hybrid), 6.2-seconds (GT, Sports Premium).
Bottom line (not including on-road costs): GT $68,900; S Premium $78,900; GT Premium hybrid $82,900.