Infiniti’s redesigned and renamed Q70 has its work cut out for it. This particular class of cars is the original class of heroes. Since the early oughts, it’s been pretty well populated entirely by impressive, well-built, good-driving vehicles, and choosing one over another isn’t easy. This isn’t a place for slackers, and Infiniti knows that. (It knows from experience, in fact; just ask the handsomely forgettable M45, this car’s predecessor, which lasted just two years in the U.S. market.).
The Q70 is significantly updated and renamed for 2014 and it’s dressed to impress from the first glance. Infiniti has adapted the curvy, feline style that sets its smaller sedans and crossover vehicles apart to the larger Q70, and the result is a pretty cool, athletic-looking design. The front fenders are dramatically arched, with glass-faired LED headlamps featuring a distinctively animal appearance. The family grille has a big Infiniti badge, of course, and the lower fascia and flanks are elegantly fluid, with hints of the Infiniti-sponsored race cars in the ground effects. Twenty-inch wheels are available, and look natural under the curvy fenders. The rear end is a little less distinctive, but the LED taillights and dual exhaust are sporty enough. The Q70 is the most fun from the front, and it was sexy enough to get the nod from a Fifties- and Sixties-centered car club that I ran into at a classic-style Sonic drive-in, of all places.
That good first impression continues on the inside, where Infiniti’s kitted the Q70 out with handsome leather, a seven-inch display screen and a shelf-like dash that gives the front of the cabin a distinctive shape compared to the typical cockpit-like high console found in many sports sedans. The Q70 has more of a comfortable, room-like feeling to it, even while offering a driving position that encourages alertness and is cozy enough for an all-day trip. I like Infiniti’s shelf-like dash. At night all of the dash lights are like a starry sky. Depending on your taste, this is either annoying or pleasing. A happy blend of piano-black trim and wood gives it the requisite look of elegance. For some reason, I had terrible traffic-karma during my week with the Q70 and got stuck in traffic jams almost daily; fortunately it’s a nice relaxing environment. Pleasant tunes on the upgraded Bose sound system (accompanied by speakers mounted in the seats themselves) and a quiet cabin made for stress-free navigation through the congestion. Rear-seat legroom is equally generous–and it’s even better in the available long-wheelbase model. Sound deadening has been improved, so the Q70 is quieter on the road. Active Noise Control is also available, helping to cancel out whatever road noise does come through. The Intelligent Key has the ability to remember the last-used climate, audio and navigation system settings, which is pretty sweet.
Infiniti also offers a 24/7 personal concierge system, something common to high-end luxury vehicles. Coupled with the intelligent navigation system that uses real-time traffic and weather updates (the Q70 will yell at you if inclement weather is headed your way) and includes a Zagat Survey restaurant guide, this car’s ready to act as a lifestyle-enhancing accessory as well as transportation.
Unleashed on the road, the Q70 feels a bit less athletic than Volvo or Audi, but the sportiness is still strong with this one. The view over the curvy hood is delightful, and it frames an enthusiastic drive. There’s a double-wishbone front suspension, backed up by a multi-link independent rear. It’s sporty and responsive, and it’s been set up to reduce the bobbing that’s common to sporty cars on uneven pavement. The Q70 has a feeling of tightly-compressed technology under the skin, rather like the Mercedes E-Class does, but with a slightly more organic feel. This is a big car, and probably not the sort you’ll be throwing hard into corners anyway, but it’s got enough grip to make the experience a confidence-inspiring one.
One thing hasn’t changed about the updated Q70, and it’s under the hood. The 3.7 liter V6 is a fantastic engine, smooth and powerful, but it’s also obviously an upgraded carryover and gives up a bit of smoothness and ultimate power to the competition. It’s producing 330 horsepower thanks to variable valve timing. The Q70’s two-ton bulk gets the better of it sometimes, and the endless surge of power that Infiniti likes to bake into its cars is somewhat blunted in the V6. Fortunately for fans of performance, there’s also a 5.6 liter direct-injection V8 on the menu. That engine’s got 420 horses and probably provides significantly more urge. Both engines feature a seven-speed automatic transmission and a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. A hybrid is also available, featuring a 3.5 liter V6 supported by an electric motor for added performance. The base 3.7 liter engine is good enough, but if there’s an aspect of the Q70 that can be accused of lagging behind the competition, it’s the powerplant. For a $30,000 car, it’s fantastic…but the Q70 prices out a bit higher than that.
Competing with players like Mercedes and Audi requires a high level of available technology, and the Q70 delivers. Infiniti’s goal with this car was to make the driving experience “more intuitive.” Has it succeeded? Perhaps, if my generally relaxed time behind the wheel is any indicator. Infiniti’s Vehicle Dynamic Control combines traction and stability control, and the optional Active Trace Control adds engine torque and braking adjustments to improve cornering. A forward collision warning system, collision-prevention braking, Infiniti’s Around View Monitor 360-degree camera system, and a lane departure warning system are all available. The lane-departure warning is noisy, but there’s an easily-found button to shut it off. Intelligent cruise control is also on the menu. The Q70 can also be had with a lane-departure prevention system, which applies braking to keep the car in its lane when it detects drift. Mercedes still out-techs it, however: the E-Class’ intelligent cruise control has a stop-start feature, while the Q70 can only bring itself to a halt. Nitpicking? Sure. That’s about all you’ve got when dealing with these cars.
Thanks to the updates, the Q70’s keeping pace with its challenging competition nicely. The Infiniti is generally less ambitious-feeling than Mercedes or Audi. This car isn’t about world domination, it just wants to make sure you’re comfortable and having a good time. Q70 pricing starts at $49,500, which is reasonable enough for what you’re getting, but be cautious with the options–the price walks up quickly. Equipped with the Technology package, Sport and Sport Touring packages, and the Premium package, my tester was a world-class ride, but as $64,600 the competition gets pretty stiff.