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Infiniti Q70: First drive review

The Good

  • Well built
  • Hybrid is a pleasure to drive
  • Generous spec list

The Bad

  • Hardly pretty
  • Lack of badge appeal
  • Germans are better
3.5

With its Q70 executive saloon, Infiniti hopes to challenge the likes of the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. Ben Griffin hopped behind the wheel for a test drive to see if its German rivals should be worried. 

Infiniti only sold 734 cars in 2014 in the UK, but the posh arm of Nissan has big plans. It hopes the Q70 will prove a desirable alternative to the usual suspects – the sort of car that makes you feel special and comfortable in equal measure, while reminding the world you have made a few quid along the way.

It certainly has its work cut out. The old Q70 was met with strong criticism, so can the facelifted model elevate it from mediocre to magical? Will it put Infiniti on the map?

Design

“You will need years to learn what each one of the thousands of buttons do.”We can’t claim to be entirely enamored with Infiniti Q70’s looks. The slightly bulbous headlights and exaggerated bonnet curves give it an aggressive look from the front, but it’s rather generic in profile, and the rear isn’t much to shout about either. It does at least have the air of an executive car, and might appeal to those who have become tired of tried and tested German styling. 

Inside it’s more convincing, with premium materials and solid build quality reminding you this is a car that is unlikely to shake itself to pieces after a few hundred miles. You will need years to learn what each one of the thousand buttons do, but it feels dependable and gives of a luxurious vibe, particularly up front. 

Practicality

Nobody will complain about the Infiniti Q70’s cabin space, as the legroom and headroom is very generous in the front and back, which you would expect when it measures nearly five metres in length. Boot space is 450 litres, making it 50 litres shy of the Jaguar XF. The hybrid version’s boot is smaller again, at 350 litres – hatchback territory.

It has a lot of space inside for holding bits and bobs in its various storage areas, cup holders are in adequate supply and there’s even a sunglasses holder in the roof. Only the biggest hoarders will find fault.

Performance & handling

“The hybrid is £10,000 more expensive than the diesel, but it’s worth every penny as it’s a far more pleasurable drive.”One of three engines can be specified beneath the bonnet, a 2.2-litre diesel, 3.5-litre V6 hybrid and a 3.7-litre petrol. The 2.2d is the entry-level engine and is likely to be the biggest seller, given that it’s the cheapest and offers reasonable performance and efficiency.

We found the 2.2d diesel a bit sluggish to get going, even with 170PS and 400Nm of torque on tap. It is also quite grumbly and by no means as quiet as we’d like. But it is very happy cruising at motorway speeds, with the seven-speed automatic adept at keeping the revs down.

The transmission is generally smooth when left in automatic mode, and if you do take matters into your own hands using the magnesium paddle shifts (available in Sport trim) you’ll get a satisfying click with each gear change.

To say the 3.5h hybrid (comprised of a 3.5-litre V6 and an electric motor) model improves the Q70 is an understatement. A 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds and 546Nm of torque make it extremely capable given the size, with the back-end keen to break free from the shackles of traction control.

Infiniti says it’s prioritiesed performance over economy with its hybrid, so although it’s generally quiet when cruising on electric power, the petrol engine is eager to fire up and get involved. It makes a satisfying noise, too – never an orchestral howl, but enough of a din to make you want to coax even more from it.

The hybrid is £10,000 more expensive than the diesel, but it’s worth every penny as it’s a far more pleasurable drive.

Economy & environment

“It shows you how much CO2 emissions you saved each time it turns the engine back on, which makes you feel a little less guilty about driving it.”Stop-start helps keep the Q70’s emissions to a competitive 129g/km with a combined economy figure of 57.6mpg, so it matches the German competition in this regard.

Infiniti has designed the 3.5h hybrid with performance in mind, so look elsewhere if you want eco perfection. Even so, the claimed 44.9mpg fuel economy figure and CO2 of 145g/km makes it relatively thrifty if you drive sensibly.

The 3.7-litre petrol offers fewer than 30mpg and is slower than the hybrid, while proving about as expensive to buy. This was the one engine we were unable to test, but on paper it looks fairly pointless.

We found the stop start system is unobtrusive, even if you need to pull away sooner than expected. It even shows you how much CO2 emissions you saved each time it turns the engine back on, which makes you feel a little less guilty.

Equipment & value

“One employee joked Infiniti had probably helped sell more BT Infinity broadband connections than cars.”Infiniti has a fight on its hands when it comes to brand prestige, seeing as many people have never even heard of it. One employee joked it had probably helped sell more BT Infinity broadband connections than cars. But it tries to persuade buyers with a generous standard list of specs.

Every Q70 is fitted with navigation, which is responsive and easy to use. 18-inch alloys, meanwhile, help improve the looks and the rear-view camera makes parking the beast a lot easier. There are also front and rear parking sensors and leather seats with ventilation for a little extra comfort and LED headlights.

Sport models have a nicer front and rear bumper design, while Tech adds automatic wipers, 16-speaker Bose sound system, heated steering wheel and a host of other electric gizmos and gadgets – including the ‘Forest Air’ system. This not only purifies the air, it adds a pleasing scent and is meant to help keep the driver happy.

The level of equipment on the Infiniti Q70 would cost you some serious cash if you went to another competitor, but a few options like the £950 sunroof and £680 metallic paint options remind you there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Safety

The new Nissan Q70 hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP as yet, but its baby brother, the Q50, achieved a five-star rating, so we’re expecting it to be tough. The Q70 comes with a host of safety systems blind spot warning on the door mirrors, lane departure warning, lane departure prevention and intelligent cruise control with low-speed following.

Helping matters further is the sheer size of the thing, the length of the front crumple zone and the six airbags dotted around the cabin.

Verdict

Based on our early impressions, the Infiniti Q70 is unlikely to set the world on fire, but it is a step in the right direction for the manufacturer. It has an air of grace about it, a generous list of standard equipment and the hybrid powertrain in particular is excellent. 

Ultimately its German rivals still have the edge, but if you’re after a luxury car that and don’t want to be part of the herd then the Q70 is definitely worth considering. 

Specification

Engine2.2d / 3.5h
Power170PS / 364PS
Torque400Nm / 546Nm
Acceleration0 to 62mph in 8.9 seconds / 5.3 seconds
Emissions129g/km / 145g/km
Economy57.6mpg / 41.6mpg
PriceFrom £32,650

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