Tired of the usual executive car contenders? Infiniti could be the answer. Jonathan Crouch reports on their Q70 luxury saloon.
Ten Second Review
Bristling with advanced technology and packing quite a punch from its 2.2-litre diesel and 3.7-litre V6 petrol engines, the Infiniti Q70 means business in the executive car market. There's even a hybrid option. the brand isn't exactly looming large off the radar of buyers but exclusivity and value for money can go a long way.
Infiniti's Q70 executive saloon (previously known as the Infiniti M line) is being offered for sale in all of the brand's 34 markets around the world, so it's an important car. Its rivals will be the same in most of those with the BMW 5-Series, Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class cropping along with the Jaguar XF and Lexus GS. In Western Europe, Infiniti must battle the big German brands on their home turf. To do that, it's putting its faith in technology, customer service and a level of exclusivity that only an Infiniti can offer. Will it be enough?
The rear-wheel-drive Infiniti Q70 is powered either by a 320PS 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine in 3.7 guise, or by a 170PS 2.2-litre diesel in the 2.2d variant which boasts 400Nm of torque to rival the class best. There's also a 364PS petrol hybrid version. A 7-speed Adaptive Shift Control gearbox takes care of gear swapping duties and includes further driver assistance in the shape of DRM Downshift Rev Matching which blips the throttle on down changes and a Drive Sport mode which brings the wheel-mounted paddle shifters into the equation.
The Q70 is fitted with Infiniti Drive, a system by which drivers can alter the set-up of the car between four modes. There are Standard, Eco, Sport and Snow settings which adjust the throttle sensitivity, the transmission mapping, the level of ESP stability control intervention and the 4WAS 4-Wheel Active Steering system. There's also a BSI Blind Spot Intervention system which uses radar to detect when there's a vehicle in the blind sport, warn the driver and intervene if the car is steered in that direction. BSI can actually brake selected wheels to create a yaw effect and move the car back into its lane away from danger.
Design and Build
The need to offer something different from the established German alternatives is not lost on Infiniti and as well as a host of technological features, the Q70 showcases the brand's distinctive styling themes. The curvy lines and sportscar design cues aren't what we've come to expect in the executive car sector. The rear has an element of Jaguar XF about it and elsewhere there are hints of Hyundai Coupe.
Underlying the bodywork is a layout that's clearly geared towards an involving driving experience. The engine is at the front of the ladder-frame chassis but mounted behind the front axle to optimise weight distribution. The suspension is a double wishbone set-up at the front with a multi-link system at the rear and a pair of anti-roll bars provide additional bracing.
The long wheelbase of the Q70 yields better cabin space than its swooping exterior lines would suggest. There's also a luxurious air about the place with standard leather trim with a mix of aluminium and piano black detailing. There's an analogue clock at the centre of the dash (an Infiniti trademark) and a large display screen above through which the various ancillary systems are controlled.
Market and Model
With its large petrol engine, the Infiniti Q70 is forced to compete at the upper end of the executive saloon market but value for money is still integral to its strategy. There's a lot of equipment as standard that should help the car stack-up well on paper alongside other big saloons with potent diesel engines or petrol units with more than 300PS. Most will opt though, for the 170PS 2.2d diesel model, which should make this car more attractive to business buyers with its greater efficiency and lower up-front cost, priced from just over £32,000.
Equipment levels are lavish of course. Most models get niceties like climate controlled seats, bi-Xenon adaptive headlights and a range of Bose stereo options amongst the available features. The upmarket sound systems have Active Noise Control. It detects unwanted low frequency noise in the cabin and plays sound waves of the opposite phase to cancel them out. There's also a Forest Air climate control system which gives an extremely high level of control over temperature, humidity and pollution levels.
Safety equipment provision is equally comprehensive. As well as the full complement of crumple zones and airbags, there's a raft of electronic aids including Intelligent Cruise Control and a Forward Collision Warning system.
Cost of Ownership
Infiniti is committed to making an impact in the European market but it's going about it in a measured fashion, easing itself in rather than going for the big splash. It means that Infiniti models will remain a comparatively rare sight in the UK market for some time to come and that exclusivity should help protect the crucial residual values of the car. The availability of diesel and hybrid models will also have a major impact on its viability for fleet customers.
Most will want the 2.2d diesel which manages CO2 returns of 129g/km. If you can afford it, the hybrid version improves that showing to 145g/km.
The major players at the top end of the executive car market have a habit of squeezing out newcomers but Infiniti is confident of getting a piece of the action with its Q70. High technology and a sporting focus make the car an intriguing choice but it's the element of exclusivity that may appeal most to buyers who've grown tired of the usual suspects in this sector.