2016 Infiniti Q70 S Premium Review

Rating: 7.0
$78,900 Mrlp
  • Fuel Economy
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If you consider luxury to be a side-effect of scarcity, then the newly updated Infiniti Q70 sedan is your height of opulence.
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If you consider luxury to be a side-effect of scarcity, then the newly updated Infiniti Q70 sedan is your height of opulence.

Infiniti sold only 22 of these large sedan rivals to the Lexus GS, among numerous others, in 2015. Almost four-times as many Lamborghinis found homes. Even cottage car brand Morgan sold 21.

The question is whether this Japanese luxury car is one of those really well-kept secrets or not. Is it a worthy entrant into a crowded segment, or does it just make up the numbers?

Here we test the Infiniti Q70 S Premium variant with the 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine option, which retails for $78,900 before on-road costs. This puts it between the Hyundai Genesis Sensory ($71,000) and Ultimate ($82,000), or the Lexus ES350 Sports Luxury ($71,500) and its sportier GS350 F Sport sibling ($94,000).

It also undercuts less powerful and well-equipped base Germans — the Audi A6 1.8 TFSI, BMW 520i and Mercedes-Benz E200 — by a few grand apiece, but with far less badge cache, it needs to. The new Jaguar XF petrol range kicks off at a shade under $90,000.

We mentioned equipment levels just now. The Infiniti comes with a lot of features, something the update launched in February this year only enhanced.

Basics include satellite navigation, rain-sensing wipers and dusk-sensing headlights, heated and ventilated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, keyless go, reverse-view camera, around-view monitor, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, a 16-speaker Bose sound system and upmarket touches such as an air purifier and electric seat belt retraction.

You also get a swathe of safety equipment including adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system with a new system that nudges you back between the lines, blind-spot monitoring and intervention, and low-speed autonomous braking in both drive and reverse gears.

Keep in mind, you can get many of these features with the notable exceptions of the active safety tech, smaller 18-inch wheels and a 10-speaker audio system, on the Q70 GT that retails for an impressive $68,900. And we reckon you could haggle to get better than that.

Read our full 2016 Infiniti Q70 pricing and specifications for more detail here.

The cabin is a bit of a mixed bag. There’s lovely soft black leather all over the place, notably the door inserts, and the general tactility of the plastics and metals inside, as well as the build quality, are all good.

But there’s also the fairly downmarket switchgear on the fascia and steering wheel, as well as the key fob and starter button lifted straight from parent company Nissan. These things hamper the ambience. As does the foot-operated parking brake.

The driving position is without flaw, but the ergonomics of the infotainment, and its UX, are not. The 8.0-inch screen software is controlled by a series of buttons and a rotary dial halfway up the fascia, but also via the touchscreen, while the audio controls are situated further down.

We can’t help but feel that had Infiniti moved the driving mode dial, and the wasteful seat temperature controls, from their position aft of the gear shifter, and replaced them with a proper rotary dial to control the infotainment, everything would be cleaner and simpler.

It’s not the clean and simple experience of BMW’s iDrive or even Mazda MZD Connect. Even Lexus’ slightly confusing mouse-like toggle on the transmission tunnel is easier to figure out. The Q70's Bluetooth re-pairing is also faithful, but a little on the slow side.

The bulging, protruded dash design lacks the sporting driver-orientation of a BMW 5 Series, the clean simplicity of the Genesis or the edginess of the Lexus GS. The Infiniti feels more upmarket inside than the Jaguar XF, at least.

The sound system is also highly impressive. There are speakers everywhere, including the front seats and atop the dash. There’s little distortion, and good clarity, across the volume and bass spectrums.

Rear seat space is about on par for a large rear-wheel drive sedan, though the sunroof eats into headroom. Rear occupants get their own vents, as well as anachronistic ashtrays in each door. The seat don’t flip, though you get a ski port. There are also two ISOFIX anchors.

The boot is 500 litres, which is on par for the segment and enough for a few big cases or golf bags though bizarrely smaller than the supremely capacious Nissan Pulsar. Under the floor there’s only speed-limited temporary spare wheel.

So how does the Q70 drive? Under the bonnet is a 3.7-litre V6 — something Nissan tends to do well — producing up to 235kW at 7000rpm and 360Nm at 5200rpm. Those figures tell you that this is an engine that likes to carry high revolutions.

In proper naturally aspirated V6 style, it delivers torque to the rear wheels in a linear and responsive fashion with a keening note. It makes a nice contrast to the point-and-surge nature of modern downsized turbos. It’ll punt the 1700kg-plus Q70 from 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds, which is respectable.

Infiniti claims combined-cycle fuel economy of 10.8 litres per 100km, while our stint at the wheel yielded a return of 12.8L/00km. Considering our driving included some spirited inputs, it’s not all that bad.

It’s worth mentioning here that you can have a Q70 in GT Premium hybrid specification with this engine matched to a 50kW/290Nm electric motor for a system output of 268kW/546Nm, and a 0-100km/h time of 5.2s. You also get four-wheel steering. And it’s only an extra $4000.

Matched to the Q70 test car’s V6 is a seven-speed automatic with an algorithm that ‘learns’ and adapts to your driving style — always dangerous in a press car driven by God knows who before you. It generally behaved well enough, in a non-intrusive manner. It also has tactile magnesium paddles mounted to the column, though this is no sports car.

The handling is reminiscent of cars from its North American target market. It lacks the razor sharp turn-in and body control of the Germans, or even a Holden Commodore, while the steering (with a sports mode that adds resistance) is uncommunicative and a little lumpy. It also never offers the appropriate amount of weight/resistance when called upon to do so. In this sense, it’s a hard car to ‘place’.

The Q70 also has a fairly intrusive stability control system that feels as though it’s cutting off torque delivery. It doesn't take overly enthusiastic driving to throw the sensors into action, needlessly. This is a highway cruiser, not a mountain road bruiser.

It’s a lovely companion eating up the highways though. The active noise cancellation and ample soundproofing materials make it superbly hushed even on 20-inch wheels with low-profile Bridgestone tyres, while the ride quality is generally cushy, though can get a little brittle over sharper edges thanks to said wheels.

The S Premium’s sports brakes (four-piston front with 355mm diameters, two-piston rear with 350mm diameters) offer decent bite, but not much pedal feel. Additionally, they heat up fast.

All told, if your daily driving comprises urban duties with highway runs, the Q70 is fine. Not class-leading, but just fine. And uber-quiet. But it’s no sports sedan like that design might indicate.

From an ownership perspective, 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.

Keep in mind, though, that Infiniti has only a handful of sales centres nationwide, in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and WA, with some service centre support in South Australia.

The Infiniti Q70 S Premium is an interesting car to review. Because it doesn’t really excel in many areas, nor does it spectacularly drop too many balls — provided you aren’t expecting the last word in corner-carving.

It’s comfortable and well-made, has lots of equipment and offers plenty of road presence. Its engine is linear and free-revving, though not exceptionally fast, and it’s a hushed driving experience as befits a premium car.

But it’s also beset on all sides by rivals, from Germany above it, and from Lexus and the Hyundai Genesis alongside it. The issue as ever for Infiniti is brand awareness, and the Q70 doesn’t really mount a case that goes beyond ‘acceptable’ and into ‘compelling’.

By all means go and have a test drive, it’s just fine. But the Q70 also is not the vehicle to help Infiniti blast into the public consciousness either.

Click on the Photos tab for more images by Tom Fraser.