Like most of their Japanese rivals, Infiniti has been on a hot streak lately. However, with Lexus’ introduction of spunky models bearing the F-Sport moniker, many models from Nissan’s luxury division tend to be overlooked. In order to keep up with tough competition, Infiniti gave their full-size sedan a mid-cycle refresh for the 2015 model year. This generation of the Q70 (formerly known as the M35/M37) debuted in 2011 as the M35 and M56. Now offered in two wheelbases, we decided to sample a pretty uniquely spec’d car. I borrowed a 2016 Infiniti Q70L 3.7, equipped with all-wheel-drive, during a blizzard-shod week in early March.
This chassis, codenamed Y51, was a stunner from day one. Even before the refresh last year, I considered it to be a very elegant sedan. The revisions allow the Q70 to adapt some of the smaller Q50’s aggressive styling traits while maintaining its classiness as a large sedan. Infiniti emphasizes that the Q70 is not a replacement for the flagship Q45 – this is a car intended to compete with the BMW 5-series, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class (see review here). The lengthened wheelbase is a testament to the car’s popularity in China, where it’s commonly used as a limousine.
Surprisingly though, the 5.9-inches of extra length don’t hurt the Q70’s styling in the slightest. If anything, it causes the large sedan to look a bit more substantial and the new profile suits its image even more. LED lighting front and rear is fresh and bright, with the adaptive headlights illuminating the road ahead clearly while maintaining a crisp cutoff. Subtle chrome accents around the exterior are equally appreciated, and don’t look chintzy or take away from the overall sophistication one bit. I’m glad that Infiniti hasn’t added faux-sporty bits all over the body in an attempt to make it seem like more of a performance luxury car.
I like that the Q70L is an honest, well-sorted luxury sedan, and this carries forth to the interior. The entire cabin is upholstered in nice semi-aniline leather and has subtle glossy wood accents. I would have liked to see matte wood like in the Hyundai Genesis (see review here) or the Volvo XC90, but the Infiniti accents certainly look the part. The fit and finish is perfect, and the seats are very comfortable with ample adjustment. One thing I always like to see is the prevalence of compartments to put things. Infiniti does a great job of this, with a neat little cubby in front of the cupholders that held my garage remote.
The length extension on the “L” model also goes a long way for rear legroom. I actually tested the BMW 750Li a few weeks prior to the Infiniti, and while the two vehicles are incomparable in most other aspects, the spaciousness for rear passengers was quite similar. The Q70L also has heated rear seats, but the controls are hidden within the armrest console, which must be opened to access them. The leather on the seats (front and rear) also has stylish patterning stitched into it, making for a unique touch. Rear passengers are also given a bit more comfort by a powered rear sunshade, though there are none on the side windows.
Beneath the hood lives an engine that will always have a warm place in my heart, and a podium spot on many award lists. The familiar VQ-series 3.7L V6 is a Nissan family favourite; seen in hot numbers like the Infiniti Q50 and the Nissan 370Z (see review here). It’s an older motor and has already been replaced in the Q50 by the new VR-series block, but the VQ is still one of my guilty pleasures. In the Q70L, it puts out 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque, and is coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Those craving more power can opt for a 5.6L V8, as well. This combination is good for a 5.7 second run to 100 km/h, and the Q70 certainly feels the part of a powerful luxury sedan.
Throttle response in Sport and Standard modes are excellent, but in the “Eco” setting, the accelerator pedal has serious resistance, making it difficult to get anywhere in a hurry. Regardless, in the normal settings the car accelerates with authority and reflects the rev-happy, energetic nature of the VQ engine. It’s responsive and a pleasure to drive – peak horsepower arrives at 7,000RPM, while the 270 lb-ft of torque is available at 5,200RPM. The seven-speed automatic is capable of rev-matching downshifts, but no paddles are available on the long-wheelbase V6 model.
Ride quality is quite good too, albeit a bit firm for a luxury sedan – the trendy 20” wheels on low-profile tires certainly don’t do much to soften the ride. Suspension is an independent double-wishbone setup in front, and multi-link with coils in the rear. There are anti-roll bars front and rear that do their level best to eliminate body roll. The steering is hydraulic rather than electrically assisted, which is a throwback to the purity of older cars. It’s definitely dated when compared to Infiniti’s Direct Adaptive Steering on the current Q50 (see review here), but it has great, natural feel to it and is nicely weighted.
Fuel economy though, isn’t a forté of any Nissan or Infiniti product with the VQ V6. The throaty, roaring engine is excellent for power, but it drinks premium fuel at a rate proportionate to power output. Infiniti suggests ratings of 13.2L/100km city and 9.7L/100km highway for the Q70L. Our test took place in cold temperatures, but was also 70% highway driving, with generous use of “Eco” mode. I averaged 12.8L/100km overall, and the large fuel tank will accept 76L of premium unleaded. On extended road trips with all highway driving, I could see the 9.7L/100km highway rating being attained under ideal conditions.
Pricing for the Q70L is $64,300 for the 3.7L tested here, and $68,800 for the 5.6L V8. There are no options or packages available – the only available choices are colours. All models come with heated and ventilated seats, dual-zone climate control, leather interior, 20” wheels, AroundView monitor, navigation system with 8” touchscreen display, soft close rear doors and trunk, 16-speaker Bose surround sound system, and a suite of driver aids. Things like forward collision warning, blind spot detection, and radar-guided cruise control are also on board.
The Infiniti Q70 is a very competent luxury sedan, and will definitely find its way into many homes. Unfortunately though, its main challenge is that it feels dated when compared to its rivals. This is offset by the relatively low cost of entry, but the infotainment system and multimedia in the car, along with the powertrain, definitely show signs of age. The VQ37 is still a very proficient motor in every sense of the word, but with all competitors going towards smaller displacement and forced induction, the Infiniti doesn’t feel quite as refined. This will soon be fixed when the next-generation VR-series motor makes its appearance on the Q70 in the near future.
After spending a week with the 2016 Infiniti Q70L, I was reminded of all of the time I spent with the first-generation G35 Coupé. That addictive exhaust note, the comfortable seats, and the involving driving experience make recent Infiniti models favourites in my heart. A recent mid-cycle refresh and new name pushed this large luxury sedan up into the same league as its competition, but it still has a bit of distance to cover if it wants to be a segment leader. I do think though, that every single example built should be sold in this gorgeous colour known as Hermosa Blue…