2015 Infiniti Q70 Expert Reviews

Expert Reviews

2015 Infiniti Q70

Ted West
© 2015 NewCarTestDrive.com

The 2015 Infiniti Q70 includes nine different models of the luxury brand's flagship sedans, including a hybrid, all-wheel-drive variants, and a brand-new Q70L long-wheelbase configuration, with impressively increased rear seating room.

New to all 2015 Q70 models are restyled front and rear fascias and a new grille, giving the Infiniti Q70 a family identity closely harmonized with the recently debuted Q50 sedan. Also new for 2015 are LED headlights, taillights, and turn signals integrated into the side mirrors.

Prior to the 2014 model year, the Q70 was known as the Infiniti M.

The overall appearance of the 2015 Infiniti Q70 has the muscular, expressive styling language of the contemporary Japanese luxury-sedan school, which continues to separate itself from more traditional European luxury sedans. The Q70 has voluptuously modeled flanks, interestingly sinister headlight clusters, a distinctive face typical of this emerging design language, all combining to produce an exceptionally low aerodynamic coefficient of drag of 0.27.

But the Q70's componentry, design character, and performance profile are highly evolutionary, closely related to successful previous Infiniti luxury-sedan offerings. With the expected addition of new contemporary driver aids, such as available predictive forward-collision warning, surround-view rear monitor with moving-object detection, forward emergency braking, and back-up collision intervention, the Q70 maintains its competitive stance on the technology forefront. The list of Q70 driver aids and luxury furnishings is long and lavish.

Performance continues to be exciting, as well. Two conventional powerplants are available, a 330-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, and a large 420-hp 5.6-liter V8. Neither of these engines takes advantage of the current trend toward more fuel-efficient turbocharged small-capacity engines, as featured by some Q70 competitors. While delivering excellent responsiveness, these engines' mileage ratings range from 23-26 mpg on the highway, and 16-18 mpg in the city. The Q70 Hybrid, by contrast, achieves exemplary efficiency of an EPA-estimated 29/34 mpg City/Highway.

Q70L models feature a wheelbase nearly six inches longer wheelbase, adding 5.6 inches of rear-seat legroom, 5.9-inches of rear-seat knee room. These longer versions are available across the board.

As a contemporary performance sedan, the Q70 is a spirited, high-quality over-the-road thoroughbred. Driven vigorously, it is agile, responsive, and well balanced. In more sedate conditions, it is comfortable, smooth, and rewardingly quiet. And because Infiniti has priced the Q70 very carefully in the market in comparison with its main competitors, such as the Lexus GS, it represents very good value in a mid-size luxury performer.

Model Lineup

Infiniti Q70 3.7 ($49,850), Q70 3.7 AWD ($52,000); Q70 5.6 ($62,850), Q70 5.6 AWD ($65,350); Q70 Hybrid ($55,900); Q70L 3.7 ($51,350), Q70L 3.7 AWD ($53,500); Q70L 5.6 ($64,550), Q70L 5.6 AWD ($67,050)

Walk Around

The impression the Q70's voluptuous styling makes may change with your mood. At times, it has a kind of sunny-day dynamism that makes you beam with approval, especially if you've just had a good, long enthusiast's drive in this excellent performance car. It has a full-blooded go-for-it temperament that is entirely endearing.

But in another mood, maybe on a cloudier day, the Q70's unrelenting curvaceousness may remind you of something you can't quite put your finger on. It's slightly heavy-looking, with sensuous bulges and pronounced modeling that, you realize, don't serve any real purpose; they're just there to make you quiver. In an odd way, it's reminiscent in both shape and tone to the exuberant designs of the late Pontiac.

Of course, this is a finely assembled, peerlessly engineered, mid-size performance luxury sedan; it has none of the haste and slapdash fit and finish of the deceased GM brand. The look is obviously more modern, with a long, low hood line that communicates serious performance. Pronounced wheel arches around the standard 18-inch wheels (or the even more stylish 20-inch wheels) communicate a muscular, well-planted stance, correctly denoting the Q70's fine handling qualities.

Infiniti's Q70 designers have taken full advantage of the contemporary LED headlight cluster's styling potential. Formed like leering, upturned eyes, with not a little menace in them, they give the Q70 a determined expression that it backs up fully with its strong over-the-road character. Furthermore, the lavishly modeled side panels of the sedan leave the impression of being formed by hurricane-force winds. This is a no-nonsense studio styling exercise that will win its share of buyers.

Yet to the more conservative eye, the Q70 may be trying too hard. It certainly succeeds at being spectacular. It is sleek and dramatic by the most up-to-the-minute standard, a road warrior of singular character. But like the GM product in years past, Infiniti stylists could easily claim the old Pontiac slogan: We Build Excitement.

Interior

The Infiniti Q70 cabin is its own best advocate. Furnished with beautiful leather seating in all but the minimum base model, its excellent 10-way heated power front seats, both with lumbar adjustment, prepare you for a first-class driving experience. The instrumentation is handsome white-on-black, crisp, flawless. A generous 7-inch information display delivers all the usual secondary onboard data you want, including individual tire-pressure readings for each tire. The onboard memory system delivers seat, steering wheel, and mirror settings, and Infiniti's advanced intelligent-key system also remembers the last climate control, audio and navigation settings.

Of particular interest is the Q70's standard Active Noise Control. This system delivers sound from the door speakers which actively cancels unpleasant engine harmonics, promoting a serene riding environment. Our test Q70 3.7 Sport featured the no-cost Premium Package, delivering Infiniti's invitingly usable navigation system, surround-view rear monitor, front/rear sonar, climate-controlled front seats, and heated steering wheel. The excellent Sport Package included paddle shifters, sport-tuned suspension, Sport brakes, and supportive, snugly bolstered sport seats. The Sport Touring Package added superb Bose 5.1 Surround Sound 16-speaker audio, and a rear sunshade.

Finally, the Technology Package bundled all the latest Infiniti driver aids, such as, intelligent cruise control, lane-departure warning and prevention, distance control assist, intelligent brake assist with forward collision warning, blind-spot warning and intervention, back-up collision intervention, and more. The majority of these systems are welcome safety aids to most drivers. Some, however, such as the lane-departure circuitry, may seem intrusive to drivers used to paying keen attention and not wishing to be told what they are doing intentionally. And as with most intelligent cruise control, in heavy traffic, this system dictates larger gaps than are practical between you and the car ahead, encouraging you to cancel the system and drive by throttle until traffic lessens.

We also drove the new Q70L stretch chassis. For buyers expecting a lot of rear-seat passengers, the Q70L version offers a very considerable advantage in rear-passenger space and comfort, and this added comfort is available for a reasonable premium. The L has another unexpected payoff: The added 5.9 inches of wheelbase stretches the car's proportions visually, making its overall appearance noticeably more graceful and less chunky than the standard, short chassis.

Outward visibility is excellent in the Q70, and the quality of the interior materials and switch gear is first-rate. For a mid-size luxury car, furthermore, roominess is good, and especially so, as mentioned, in the Q70L. The one controversial interior furnishing is Infiniti's premium silver-powdered White Ash wood trim package. This finish is a highly prized feature to Japanese eyes, but to Western eyes, it may be less attractive than conventionally finished wood.

Driving Impressions

We drove the Q70 models with the 5.6-liter V8 engine and the 3.7-liter V6 and, somewhat to our surprise, we preferred the V6, particularly in a Q70 Sport.

The 5.6-liter is a powerful, old-fashioned road-burner V8, and its acceleration is certainly impressive. However, we were conscious of the heavier engine giving the Q70 a much heavier feel than the V6 package. The trade-off, particularly in back-road handling, argued strongly in favor of the lighter V6's better balance. Figuratively, the Q70 5.6 felt like an older American V8 sedan, while the Q70 3.7 was more agile, more European.

The ground-pounder Q70 5.6 was a fast car, but the Q70 3.7, particularly in the Sport configuration with paddle shifters, was just plain fun.

The Infiniti 7-speed automatic transmission used throughout the line is a thoroughly modern unit with excellent performance. One of its greatest strengths is its very aggressive Downshift Rev Matching, which rapidly brings the engine up to the correct rpm for a fast downshift, executing the entire process practically as quickly as you can operate the paddle shifter. Exciting and very well done.

The Q70 3.7 Sport loved to be driven aggressively in the Sport driving mode, which was programmed with higher transmission shift points and stronger acceleration. But the minute driving conditions changed, the driver could switch to the Eco driving mode, which programmed the transmission for more fuel-efficient shifts, and even provided a slight push-back through the throttle pedal, indicating that throttle use should be moderated for greener results.

The Q70's front-mid-engine layout, with the engine behind the front axle but in front of the driver, results in good front-to-rear weight distribution. With slightly more weight on the front axle than the rear, the car still had excellent turn-in response and directional positivity. It's a thoroughbred sports sedan. But it should also be remembered that these same high-spirited engineering dynamics produce heightened stability in emergency maneuvers, delivering a significant safety advantage for even the least enthusiastic daily commuter. A finely engineered sport chassis benefits all drivers.

The Q70 Sport's special brake package was extremely powerful and fade-free in extra-heavy use. This is significant, because at around two tons, the Q70 is no lightweight and stress on the brakes is considerable. The standard brake packages we drove were also excellent and powerful, fulfilling the car's role throughout its model range as a trusty traveler.

There are two significant changes to the Q70's driving characteristics for 2015. The first was a recalibration of its throttle tip-in, which is to say, its responsiveness when you begin to press the gas pedal. For years, Japanese luxury cars have used an unrealistically sudden initial response at tip-in, giving the driver the impression of more acceleration than is really on hand. And to drivers who pride themselves on control and smoothness, this was particularly irritating. The 2015 Q70's throttle tip-in is dialed back to where it should be: linear, realistic, excellent.

The other major change is in the calibration of Infiniti's electronic stability control system. Before 2015, it was overly sensitive, and at the slightest indication of rear-wheel slippage, it would come on full force, applying braking and canceling all slippage. Well, frankly, a little slippage is fun, and constant stability-control braking is not fun. Like the Europeans, Infiniti has liberalized its stability control to allow a little fun, while still invoking full control if slippage grows risky. This perfectly suits a sports sedan for enthusiastic drivers. Well done.

The Infiniti Q70 continues to be a performance sedan well-engineered for discerning enthusiast buyers. For 2015, the Q70 has taken even closer aim at those buyers. And because Infiniti has always priced its offerings very carefully, Q70s offer excellent value in the mid-size luxury category.

Ted West filed this NewCarTestDrive.com report after his test drives of Q70 V6 and V8 models.

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