For 2015 the Q70 receives a refresh to reflect Infiniti's latest styling direction and gains a new long-wheelbase version. The resulting increase in rear passenger space puts it in the same league with full-size luxury sedans, but that unfortunately turns out to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise puzzling execution.
What Is It?
We can thank the Chinese market — where having a longer car is an indication of wealth and status — for the recent explosion of long-wheelbase car variants. The extended Infiniti Q70 L was built to meet the Chinese demand and is now coming Stateside, making it the sole long-wheelbase sedan in its class. Prices start at $50,755 for the standard-wheelbase V6-powered Q70 and rise to $67,955 for the V8-powered long-wheelbase Q70 L with all-wheel drive.
We had the opportunity to drive this range-topping Q70 L in and around the New York City area. Options on our test car included the $7,200 Deluxe Technology package (including everything from a 16-speaker Bose audio system to a power rear sunshade, to multiple autonomous safety and convenience systems) and the $1,150 Performance Tire and Wheel package with 20-inch wheels, performance tires and upgraded brakes. The as-tested price came to a substantial $76,305.
How Does It Drive?
The 5.6-liter V8-powered model with all-wheel drive that we drove was a bundle of contradictions. Its 416 horsepower and 414 pound-feet of torque proved more than adequate in reaching highway speeds with confidence. As a range-topping drivetrain choice, though, it comes up short relative to its competitors.
With a solid prod of the gas pedal, the Q70 gathers speed smoothly and purposefully, but lacks the pin-you-to-the-seat acceleration of others in the class. Switching to Sport mode quickens throttle response and gearchanges somewhat, but the difference from normal mode was marginal. It's very likely that the 3.7-liter V6 will be adequate for most drivers.
On Manhattan's broken pavement, the Q70's ride quality did little to isolate us from the city's harshness. We attribute some of this to the car's optional Performance Tire and Wheel package, which also includes larger brakes. The ride smoothed out a little once we escaped New York for the rolling New Jersey countryside, but seams in the concrete highways were still noisy and bordered on intrusive given the silence demonstrated by most competitors.
Usually, this kind of ride stiffness translates to better handling performance, but other factors kept us from exploring its potential. The steering effort was unusually heavy, regardless of speed. At the same time there was very little feedback coming through to our hands to let us know what the front tires were doing. When the road began to curve, the vehicle simply felt heavy, ponderous and not at all athletic. The Q70 did execute driver commands well, but not to enough of an extent to justify its harsh ride.
Wind noise is significant. Even at sub-highway speeds, a subtle whoosh that builds in intensity as speed increases is obvious. After an hour it became tiresome. After a day it would be unacceptable.
What Is the Interior Like?
For the most part, everything from the front seats forward carries over from last year's Q70, and that has both benefit and burden. The numerous leather surfaces have a premium look and feel, and interior elements have a sturdy construction. The front seats are shaped for comfort, and after several hours of touring, fatigue never set in. This is due in no small part to the standard heated and cooled functions for the chairs in V8-powered models.
In terms of overall design, the cabin has an abundance of organic shapes that squeeze and bloat the many surfaces, making it rather unique among other flagship luxury sedans. Rivals tend to stick to traditional horizontal shapes and wood trim finishes for a more understated appearance with broader appeal. The Q70's interior is much more polarizing, with a slightly overdesigned and flamboyant flare that some may find awkward. The optional silver-powdered White Ash may also strike an odd chord with its fish scale-like shimmer.
The centrally mounted infotainment center dominates the dash and returns mostly unchanged from the prior year. We've previously praised this system for its clarity and simple operation, but without any significant improvements, it is beginning to show its age. Screen resolution isn't as sharp as some rivals and the control knob remains mounted awkwardly just below the display. Most other manufacturers have located the main controller in a natural position just below the driver's right hand. We were also a bit disappointed at the system's sporadic slow responses to commands.
Storage options for beverages and other personal items are acceptable, but not particularly generous. The Q70's class-average 14.9-cubic-foot trunk will accommodate plenty of luggage, and loading is made easy with a large and low opening. The rear seats do not fold, but a center pass-through will help with longer cargo.
Does the Long-Wheelbase Model Make That Much of a Difference?
As with the recent rash of long-wheelbase models coming to market, the Q70 L's added length reaps rewards for rear passengers. The 120.1-inch wheelbase and 202-inch overall length are both 5.9 inches greater than the standard Q70 and add 5.6 inches of rear legroom. The standard Q70's interior volume and cargo capacity place it in the midsize sedan segment, but the Q70 L's measurements classify it as a large sedan. In terms of overall length, the L is almost as long as the long-wheelbase versions of the BMW 7 Series and Jaguar XJ.
The resulting space is positively abundant, with plenty of room to stretch your legs out fully, even with the front seat travel at the rearmost extension. Headroom is also accommodating enough for 6-footers, and the seat cushion height is tall enough to provide agreeable amounts of thigh support on long journeys.
An unfortunate byproduct of all of this space, however, is that it points out what's missing. Separate rear climate controls are not offered, nor are ventilated seats, foot/leg rests or sliding and reclining adjustments. A rear entertainment system is also notably absent, as are rear USB ports. Only a single 12-volt outlet is placed almost out of reach at the rear of the front center armrest.
A power rear window sunshade is optional, but side shades are not available. Further compounding matters is a center floor hump that is inelegantly carpeted over clumsy sharp corners and outdated incandescent lighting. Considering these oversights, the Q70 L's rear accommodations seem unfinished when compared to its rivals.
What Safety Features Does It Offer?
Standard safety features on all 2015 Infiniti Q70 models include antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front seat active head restraints. Absent are supplemental knee, torso and pelvic airbags that some rivals feature. V8-powered models also receive emergency telematics, rear parking sensors and an around-view camera system with moving object detection as standard fare.
Additional features like a lane departure warning and prevention system, a blind-spot warning and intervention system and a forward collision warning and control system that can detect if the driver two cars ahead slows are available at extra cost. In theory, these systems show promise for accident avoidance, but their hypersensitivity and erratic reactions make them more of a nuisance in practice. We ended up disabling them after a very short time behind the wheel.
What Kind of Fuel Economy Can You Expect?
For the 5.6-liter V8-powered Q70 L with all-wheel drive that we sampled, fuel economy is estimated at 18 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway). The rear-drive version is rated at 19 mpg combined (16 city/24 highway), while the 3.7-liter V6 models are estimated to better these figures by about 2 mpg across the board. These figures are below average among rivals, but for those who place a premium on fuel economy, a standard-wheelbase hybrid model is available and is estimated at 31 mpg combined (29 city/34 highway).
What Are Its Closest Competitors?
BMW 5 Series: Like the Mercedes, the BMW 5 Series has a solid reputation for luxury, though with a slightly more athletic interpretation. It also comes in a variety of engine choices, including a very efficient and powerful diesel. Nothing in this class can compete with the Q70 L's rear passenger space, but the BMW can accommodate 6-footers.
Lexus GS 350: As one of the most direct competitors to the Infiniti, the GS 350 does a better job of combining a refined ride with capable handling. Lexus also offers an abundance of high-tech features, though its interface can be clumsy at times.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class: Representing the gold standard in midsize luxury sedans for almost three decades, the E-Class is also about to receive a complete makeover for 2015. Traditionally, this model has leaned toward comfort, with some performance-minded variants in the mix. The current E-Class features hallmark traits like German solidity, innovative technology and best-in-class interiors, and the next model should build from there.
Why Should You Consider This Car?
If rear passenger space is a primary concern for a midsize luxury sedan (though technically it's a large sedan), the 2015 Infiniti Q70 L is the only vehicle that can fill that need.
Why Should You Think Twice About This Car?
Given the numerous drawbacks noted, the Q70 L falls well short of the standard set by its chief rivals. For the price, alternatives like the Hyundai Genesis and Kia K900 will deliver more complete and feature-rich packages with more agreeable on-road characteristics.
|Year Make Model||2015 Infiniti Q70 L 5.6 AWD|
|Assembly location||Tochigi, Japan|
|Configuration||Longitudinal front-engine, all-wheel-drive|
|Engine type||Naturally aspirated V8, gasoline|
|Displacement (cc/cu-in)||5,600 / 342|
|Valvetrain||DOHC 4 valves/cylinder, variable timing and lift|
|Compression ratio (x:1)||11.5|
|Horsepower (hp @ rpm)||416 @ 6,000|
|Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)||414 @ 4,400|
|Fuel type||Premium unleaded required|
|Transmission type||7-speed automatic with console shifter with sport mode|
|Transmission ratios (x:1)||I: 4.783; II: 3.103; III: 1.984; IV: 1.371; V: 1.000; VI: 0.871; VII: 0.4776; R: 3.859|
|Final-drive ratio (x:1)||2.611|
|Suspension, front||Independent double wishbone, coil springs, stabilizer bar|
|Suspension, rear||Independent multi-link, coil springs, stabilizer bar|
|Steering type||Electric power assist, speed-sensing, rack and pinion|
|Steering ratio (x:1)||16.6|
|Tire type||All-season performance|
|Wheel size||20 x 9|
|Wheel material||aluminum alloy|
|Brakes, front||14.0-in, ventilated discs with four-piston fixed calipers|
|Brakes, rear||13.8-in, ventilated discs with two-piston fixed calipers|
|Fuel economy, mfr. est. (mpg)||18 Combined (23 Hwy/16City)|
|Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)||20|
|Audio and Advanced Technology|
|Stereo description||16-Speaker Bose surround sound|
|iPod/digital media compatibility||Standard|
|Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)||Not available|
|Rear seat video and entertainment||'Not available|
|Bluetooth phone connectivity||Standard|
|Telematics (OnStar, etc.)||Standard|
|Adaptive cruise control||Optional|
|Night Vision||Not available|
|Driver coaching display||Not available|
|Dimensions & Capacities|
|Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)||4,345|
|Track, front (in.)||62|
|Track, rear (in.)||61.6|
|Turning circle (ft.)||37.4|
|Legroom, front (in.)||44.4|
|Legroom, rear (in.)||41.8|
|Headroom, front (in.)||39.1|
|Headroom, rear (in.)||37.7|
|Shoulder room, front (in.)||58.4|
|Shoulder room, rear (in.)||56.7|
|Trunk volume (cu-ft)||14.9|
|Ground clearance (in.)||5.7|
|Free scheduled maintenance||Not available|
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.