6.5 / 10
If you value getting your money’s worth in luxury cars, the 2016 Infiniti Q70 is hard to ignore.
The updated 2016 Infiniti Q70 mid-size luxury sedan is now on sale with more standard equipment than it previously came with, and with prices unchanged on their already aggressive levels.
It’s an understandable position for Infiniti to have taken with this update, given the fact the Q70 (previously known as M) has never sold well here.
And that, too, is understandable when you consider the competitive set against which the Q70 is positioned. The Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class are just some of the cars that it competes with, and these are big-name models upon which brands have been built. Then there are the other models in this crowded segment: Lexus GS, Jaguar XF, Hyundai Genesis and the much dearer Maserati Ghibli.
So, why does Infiniti even bother with such a model with such strong competition? Especially considering that it only managed to sell 22 examples of the Q70 in 2015.
Infiniti Cars Australia managing director, Jean-Philippe Roux, indicated that it’s a segment that simply has to be participated in if you’re a luxury car manufacturer. After all, luxury sedans of this type were once the be-all and end-all of premium brands.
Roux also made it clear that value for money is something the Infiniti brand stands for. As such, it has a point to make in this segment, as well as all the others in which it competes.
The result is a starting price that is the second-most affordable in the segment behind the circa-$60,000 Genesis, at $68,900 plus on-road costs. You could also argue that if a luxury sedan is what you’re after, the consideration set could expand to the Holden Caprice (from $60,990) and the Chrysler 300 (from $55,000).
Those aforementioned competitors have engines ranging from 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinders up to mammoth turbo V8s under their bonnets in the high-end performance variants.
But Infiniti offers two drivetrains, both with six-cylinder engines at their core: the entry-grade GT and mid-range S Premium models have a 3.7-litre petrol V6, while the flagship GT Premium is powered by a hybrid drivetrain with a 3.5-litre V6 teamed to an electric motor and a battery back in the boot.
All Q70 models sold here are rear-wheel drive, and the two powertrain options both make use of a seven-speed automatic gearbox, though the hybrid version has an electric motor as part of the assembly.
We sampled both versions at the launch of the updated model in Victoria this week.
First up was the petrol, with its 3.7-litre engine producing 235kW at 7000rpm and 360Nm at 5200rpm.
This is an engine that feels suited to its body, while not offering excessive amounts of grunt given the weight of the Q70 (starting at 1675kg for the entry level petrol, 1719kg for the S Premium and a beefy 1820kg for the hybrid).
It’s a smooth, refined petrol engine, with a nice linearity to its power delivery that some rival models – with their downsized turbocharged engines – cannot match. It does its best work higher in the rev range but doesn’t feel underdone down low, and there’s a nice engine note that is never intrusive. Indeed, it’s near-silent at cruising speeds.
There are sport, snow and eco modes for the engine and gearbox calibration, but we mainly stuck with normal mode during our drive. The roads we were on didn’t call for much else.
The ride of the petrol GT base model – which sits upon 245/50/18 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber – was reasonably compliant, though in the rear seat there was more jittering over bumps than was noticeable up front.
The steering, too, was mostly fine at lower speeds but lacking a little precision and accuracy as momentum built. There is a nice amount of nibble at the front axle over differing road surfaces, though.
The S Premium model was a different experience to the GT, due in no small part to its 20-inch rims which were lacquered in 245/40 Bridgestone Potenza rubber and its revised damper tuning which has an impact on the ride. It is sharper over bumps in this top-spec guise than it is in the base model designation, though still not uncomfortable.
Instantly the steering feels much heavier, though oddly there’s no difference in the rack-and-pinion systems between models and the tyre width is identical. The weight of the steering can be frustrating at low speeds, as it requires quite a bit of arm work for what should be easy manoeuvres.
The hybrid version features four-wheel-steering, and there’s definitely a noticeable difference in terms of cornering precision and the reaction of the steering wheel. We’d like to spend more time in the car to get a better idea of whether this is a real strength or not, but our time was limited to traffic snarls and slow-moving highways.
In that traffic, though, we noticed that the hybrid certainly felt its weight over bumps – despite riding on the smaller 18-inch wheel and tyre package, it didn’t so much glide over bumps as transmit all the unevenness of the road below to those in the cabin. Not ideal for something that’s supposed to be luxurious.
Another noticeable difference between the hybrid and the regular V6 was its throttle response. Admittedly, with a maximum 268kW of power and 546Nm of torque available, it should be great, and in sport mode it seemed reasonably perky … perhaps not 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds perky, though.
But our time behind the wheel showed that in the normal drive mode, the Q70’s throttle response was doughy and dull, the switch between electric driving (up to 100km/h and for up to two kilometres, according to the brand) and petrol propulsion was hardly smooth.
The braking response of the hybrid model was average, too, with the pedal feeling initially a little grabby at low speeds, and then more and more wooden the further the pedal travelled.
Fuel use for the hybrid is rated at 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres, and we saw exactly that across a mix of roads. The V6 claims 10.2L/100km for the GT and 10.8L/100km for the S Premium – we saw 10.5L/100km in both cars, albeit mainly during highway motoring.
While the outside has been freshened up somewhat, the interior hasn’t seen much love.
The stepped dash layout is either coated in piano black trim (S Premium) or white ash wood, but the design means the centre console intrudes on the cabin space somewhat. The 8.0-inch media screen is large, but the graphics on the menu screens and satellite-navigation maps aren’t as crisp as most other rival cars.
The screen is touch-sensitive and also has a simple button system below to make syphoning through menus simple.
The electric seats with memory function and electrically-adjustable steering column give all the right impressions, and there’s a level of luxury to the fact that there is heating and cooling for the seats, and heating for the steering wheel.
The beige leather trim in the S Premium looked very, er, premium, but strangely you can’t get the wood trim with this fabric coating.
Rear seat space in the Q70 is certainly adequate, but not exceptional. In some markets there’s a long-wheelbase version that aims to please rear-seat occupants, but we don’t get that here.
Still, there’s enough head room and leg room for two six-foot-tall adults to be comfortable, but toe room is a little tight. As well as that, the seat itself may be a tad too reclined to be comfortable for all tastes. Three could be a squish, particularly due to the bulky transmission tunnel.
There are no rear door pockets, but there is a fold-down centre armrest with cup holders and a storage box, and while generally the fit and finish of the Q70 was exceptional, the elasticised map pockets in our test cars were wonky.
The petrol models get a load-through ski-port and a boot capacity of 500 litres, while the hybrid models – because of the battery bank in the boot – miss out on the ski-port, and have a tight boot space of just 350L.
While there are new inclusions in terms of safety equipment – including a forward collision monitoring system that can apparently see what’s happening ahead of the car you’re following, and a reversing system that will brake autonomously if an obstacle is detected – we didn’t sample them at launch.
Still, the S Premium and GT Premium models have all the boxes ticked, including a surround-view camera system (on top of the base model, which gets a reverse-view camera and front and rear parking sensors), blind-spot monitoring and intervention, and lane-keeping assistance. All models have ISOFIX child seat anchors and six airbags (dual front, front-side, full-length curtains).
All Infiniti models come with a four-year, 100,000km warranty and four years of roadside assistance. Servicing is due every 12 months or 10,000km (whichever occurs first) with the brand’s Infiniti Assurance program spanning eight years. The average service cost over that time is $512 for the V6 and $515 for the hybrid.
In conclusion, the 2016 Infiniti Q70 is good value – that’s hard to deny. But while it isn’t offensive in any way, it certainly doesn’t change the game in the luxury segment.
Click the Photos tab above for more images of the 2016 Infiniti Q70.