THE INFINITI BRAND MAY STILL BE A TAD INVISIBLE IN THIS MARKET, BUT IT HAS SOME GOOD CARS TUCKED AWAY BEHIND THAT SCREEN OF INVISIBILITY.
The large and luxuriously equipped Q70, at the top of the Infiniti range, is one that deserves more attention from buyers.
Bedecked with a premium features list, with a lusty 3.7 litre V6 tucked under the bonnet (or an equally lusty hybrid), and superbly crafted, the updated Q70 has both the feel of quality and the beans at the accelerator to stake its claim in the premium sedan segment.
Q70 GT: $68,900 (or $77,803 driveaway),
Q70 S Premium: $78,900 (or $88,323 driveaway)
Q70 GT Premium: $82,900 (or $92,430 driveaway)
Q70 GT: 3.7 litre V6 petrol: 235kW/360Nm; 7-spd sports auto
Q70 S Premium: 3.7 litre V6 petrol 235kW/360Nm; 7-spd sports auto (with paddle shifts)
Q70 GT Premium: 3.5 litre V6 petrol/electric: 225kW/350Nm+50kW/290Nm; 7-spd sports auto
S Premium: 3.7 litre V6 petrol claimed: 10.8 l/100km; tested: 9.9 l/100km
GT Premium: 3.5 litre petrol/hybrid claimed: 6.9 l/100km; tested: 7.1 l/100km
Not greatly changed, the new model sharpens up the Q70’s front and rear styling, adds LED headlamps, LED turn-signals and tail-lights, and brings some new features and equipment to the range, without sending the price northward.
Originally launched here in 2012 as the M37 and M30d range, with 3.0 litre diesel, V6 petrol and hybrid drivetrains, Infiniti has since clipped the range, if not clipping its expectations for the big sedan here.
“This is an important car for us,” Australian Infiniti head, Jean Philippe Roux, said at launch.
Now there’s just a three-model range, and no diesel. The Q70 GT sits at $68,900 ($77,803 driveaway), the S Premium at $78,900 ($88,323 driveaway) and the GT Premium, with V6 petrol and hybrid drive, tops out price scale at $82,900 (or $92,430 driveaway)
At $77,803, Infiniti puts an E Class-sized competitor within reach of buyers gazing into the premium medium-sedan segment.
With the Infiniti dealership footprint to expand this year from the current three – in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – to ten, extending to Adelaide and Perth, the brand will need to develop some momentum if it is going to ‘feed’ those new dealerships.
But, with the Q60 and Q30 headed this way, it would appear to have the armoury. For its part, the Q70 is no beauty, but it is beautifully built and the coachwork is flawless. It also drives very well.
You could certainly do worse than check this one put.
The top-spec model in the Q70 range is the S Premium (though it sits mid-range on price, below the GT Premium). The difference in price is explained by the hybrid drive in the GT Premium, which pushes it above its more luxuriously-specced conventional V6 stablemate.
- Standard features: Keyless entry and ignition; memory function for system-settings including audio, climate control, seat and steering wheel settings; 10-way powered driver and passenger seat, climate control air-conditioning with 'plasmacluster' air-purifier; active noise control (utilising sound-wave cancelling technology); rain-sensing wipers, light sensor; rear view camera and surround cameras with bird's-eye view
- Infotainment: Bluetooth and audio streaming, 30GB HDD satellite navigation with traffic message channel, 160Watt audio system (upgradeable to a Bose surround system), high resolution touchscreen, CD/DVD reader with MP3 WMA compatibility, 10GB Music Box.
- Cargo volume: 500 litres S Premium, 350 litres GT Premium
Each in the new Q70 range is beautifully trimmed with sumptuous fine-grained leather, flawless piano-black and metal finishes and, with the doors closed, the snug cosseting feel of an exclusive club.
The interior is basically unchanged from the previous model, except for some new toys among the above feature list.
Depending on the model, sunburst wood-panelling adorns the centre-stack, console and doors – highly polished and also flawlessly fitted and finished.
The latter might not be on everyone’s list of must-haves, but it’s deep and lustrous and looks pretty smart.
The swoopy curving dash is a bit over-blown (and lacks the simple elegance of an Audi interior), but the detail and feel of the chrome-rimmed controls and instrument bezels, and the jeweller’s chronograph-style clock, puts the big Infiniti firmly in Lexus territory for craftsmanship and quality.
The S Premium also gets crafted magnesium paddle-shifts at the wheel should you decide to ‘unleash the beast’.
We drove both the S Premium and GT Premium models. Each did not disappoint with deep supportive seats, soft leathers and an enveloping luxurious feel. There is also lots of room in the back, and two nicely contoured buckets for outboard passengers (the middle passenger does not fare so well).
There are cup-holders aplenty, front and back, and the boot of the conventional V6 S Premium is huge at 500 litres. The hybrid GT Premium has a compromised boot (thanks to the battery) but still manages an acceptable 350 litres.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine/transmission: 3.7 litre V6 petrol 235kW/360Nm; 7-spd sports auto (with paddle shifts), or 3.5 litre V6 petrol/electric: 225kW/350Nm+50kW/290Nm; 7-spd sports auto
- Performance: S Premium: 0-100km/h in 6.2 seconds; GT Premium (hybrid) 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds
- Suspension: Double wishbone front (twin-tube shock absorbers); multi-link rear, with twin-tube shock absorbers and anti-squat/anti-dive technology
- Brakes: 320mm ventilated discs (front)/308mm ventilated discs (rear) with two-piston callipers
- Tow rating: 750kg (unbraked), 1500kg (braked trailer)
If the intent of a premium luxury sedan is to be comfortable, quiet and swift, then the Q70 has each box ticked.
The S Premium is whisper quiet and feels every inch the luxury chariot, but the GT Premium hybrid carries with it a special ‘cone of silence’. When the soft-close doors ‘thuck’ tightly shut, the rude intrusions of the world outside are all-but banished.
The extra weight afforded by the battery low down in the chassis, and the counter-balancing and dampening effect it has on NVH, gives it a special serenity on-road that has its direct German competitors beaten all-ends-up.
Even on the coarse bitumen we encountered on launch, both Q70s were impressively quiet with little of the road-roar we’d otherwise expect from the big 20-inch rubber down below, but the hybrid is something special.
And, though the Q70 is a big car, it’s no slouch in either configuration when asked the question.
The 3.7-litre DOHC 24-valve petrol V6 with hydraulically-controlled variable valve-timing and lift puts out a very respectable 235kW @ 7,000 rpm and 360Nm of torque @ 5,200 rpm that sees the S Premium spearing to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds.
Put the shoe in, and it lifts with a satisfying howl, gathers its skirts and bolts.
The GT Premium, which combines a 3.5-litre alloy V6 with 225kW/350Nm with a lithium-ion driven 50 kW/290Nm electric motor, is quicker again. It will gallop to 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.3 seconds, and has an immediate reserve on tap, even at low revs, thanks to the intervention of the electric motor.
For what it’s worth, it takes the gong with the Guinness Book of Records as “the world's fastest accelerating full-hybrid car” (September 2011).
Interestingly, or not, it doesn’t feel as fast on road as the S Premium… perhaps because it doesn’t sound as rorty, having a thinner bleat when under the whip.
Each features customisable driving modes – Standard, Eco, Sport or Snow – which adjust throttle sensitivity and transmission mapping. Essentially, in Sport, the transmission hangs onto lower gears and kicks down a little more readily when setting up for a corner.
If pushing things along in the S Premium, there is a quick blip with each downshift (which can pass unnoticed).
The suspension is ‘just right’ for a larger luxury sedan. While it points well enough, and feels reasonably alert, it doesn’t have quite the front-end balance of the more firmly sprung ‘benchmark’ Germans, nor even of the Holden Calais.
It is however more comfortable than both, and certainly more serene on a pitted or undulating secondary road.
Strangely, the steering in the GT Premium feels a little more wooden than the S Premium and has a slightly heavier detent in the degrees away from dead ahead.
But while it might be swift and have some sporting pretensions, the Q70 is not about being a sports car. It is however about being a balanced, satisfying and comfortable saloon.
And it does this effortlessly well.
We got very good fuel consumption from both models – 9.9 l/100km in the S Premium, and 7.1 l/100km in the hybrid GT Premium, despite giving things a nudge when the opportunity presented. Not bad for such a large, heavy car.
ANCAP: Not as yet rated
Safety features: The Infiniti Q70 range comes with a premium safety feature list including six airbags, four-wheel steering with active steer (low-speed steering assistance); intelligent cruise control, blind-spot warning, blind-spot intervention, forward emergency braking, and lane departure warning.
It also features Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), Traction Control System (TCS), and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC).
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The closest rivals to Infiniti’s Q70 are clearly the three Germans – Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E Class – and the Lexus GS350.
But you will have to spend quite a bit more on the German contenders to match the Infiniti’s straight-line performance and premium feature list. The closest BMW is the 528i with 180kW and 350Nm, and a dash to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds.
But it will set you back $109,173 by the time you get it on road. An Audi A6 with just 1.8 litres under the bonnet (at $88,913 driveaway) is barely a competitor, unless you step to the S Line quattro 3.0 litre diesel at $112,013.
VERDICT | OVERALL
This big Infiniti, the Q70, is something of a well-kept secret at the moment. It has struggled for sales, but is certainly a far better car than buyers would seem to realise.
Its styling may have a few too many creases and bulges for some, but the coachwork and the quality of the build are simply superb. We feel that, should you give this car a chance, it will grow on you in a whole lot of ways.
Serenely quiet, it certainly is. It is also both comfortable and swift, and quite effortless to drive.
In fact, when you start to stack it up feature for feature, the Q70 looks a lot like "the value buy" in that large sedan premium segment.
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