First Drive: 2015 Infiniti Q70

The 2015 Infiniti Q70 may be a work in progress inside the cabin, but the overall quality, performance, and practicality of this car are outstanding.

Driving in New York City can be a daunting task for a first-timer. In ‘The City,’ lane markers are suggestions, roads are as crowded as the F train at rush hour, and crosswalk signals are little more than street décor. Luckily, I had the perfect car for the job.

That’s not to say the 2015 Infiniti Q70 is without faults. There are some, but the Infiniti’s bold appearance, helpful – but not overbearing – driver aids, and impressive array of safety features make even a kid from Oregon feel right at home on the roads of the Big Apple.

In ‘The City’

First things first: the Q70 has been given a significant facelift for 2015, and it looks great. The front, sides, and rear have adopted the same sharp headlights, aggressive grill design, and a BMW 3 Series-esque aft section that highlighted the Q50S we tested earlier this year. The result is a distinct personality that makes the old car look average and plain in comparison.

It’s not a small car. The standard model is 194.7 inches long and the extended wheelbase Q70L (new for this year) measures in at 202.0 inches. However, even in executive form, which has best-in-class knee and legroom, the Q70 didn’t have trouble navigating through the frenzied ant colony that is downtown Manhattan.

As part of Infiniti’s ‘Safety Shield’ technology, the Q70 comes equipped with Distance Control Assist (DCA) as part of an optional technology package. DCA could also be known as ‘Traffic Stress Relief,’ as front-mounted lasers gauge the distance between it and the car ahead, sending feedback through the accelerator pedal and applying brakes to keep a safe distance.

So if the stop-and-go of rush hour is getting to be a bit too much, simply press the steering wheel-mounted button and put the road rage to bed. All a drive must do is focus on steering and acceleration and the car does to rest. In fact, according to Infiniti, the system is “transforming the realities of traffic.”

As Infiniti labors to be acknowledged as its own brand, this is exactly the type of car it needs: a car with character and grace.

In the country

Once we left the bright lights and skyscrapers of the city behind, we trekked through the lush landscapes of northern New Jersey. Yes, you read that right. New Jersey is the Garden State, after all. It is there, in the countryside, free of shiny outward distractions, that occupants begin to notice the subtle details of the Q70’s cabin.

Overall, I liked the interior. The leather seats were supple but consciously curved to keep the driver in place during aggressive cornering, and the 16-speaker Bose stereo is excellent.

The cherry on top for the Infiniti Q70 is its strong value-per-dollar.

However, there are a few problems. For every perfectly padded armrest or user-friendly infotainment system, there are cheap looking wood trim and chintzy-feeling materials on the dash. What buyers are left with is a cabin that has potential … but doesn’t feel quite finished.

Regardless, the driving experience drivers get with this car makes up for it. The Q70 is offered with either a 3.7-liter, 330-horsepower V6 or a 5.6-liter, 420-hp V8. Both models are available in either rear or all-wheel drive and there’s also V6 hybrid powertrain that nets 360 hp.

At over 16 feet in length, the Q70 isn’t exactly a Lotus Exige. However, it felt controlled, powerful, and eager on the windy roads of Bear Mountain, New York.

Both VQ series engines have a fantastic growl to them, especially during the downshifting throttle blips of the car’s ‘Sport’ mode. The center console’s control knob offers several other modes, but I bet it’s not hard to guess which one I was in most.

2015 Infiniti Q70

During ‘spirited convoy driving’ the stress-easing DCA allows the driver to focus on steering angles and throttle control because the function automatically slows the car as you near your leading vehicle. Like it does in traffic, the DCA minimizes one driver input in pursuit of maximizing more relevant, and frankly more enjoyable areas of the drive.

It’s important to note that the Q70L, a variant designed for executive passengers, suffered no discernible performance drops at the expense of a longer wheelbase. Turns out the Q70 isn’t just good for those who want to drive; it’s good for those who want to be driven, too.

In the future

No matter if driving in the city, through the countryside, or along the channel, Infiniti’s new Q70 is yet another look into what many people see as the future of driving: autonomy.

At over 16 feet in length, the Q70 isn’t exactly a Lotus Exige.

The aforementioned DCA helps take the burden off the driver in many areas, but it’s more than that. The Intelligent Cruise Control functions at a full-speed range and effortlessly integrates with the car’s Intelligent Brake Assist and Forward Collision Warning.

The Infiniti will start itself, stop itself, keep itself in the lane, and even detect accidents before they happen by monitoring speed differentials of the vehicles ahead.

What makes the sedan so special is the fact that these systems so seamlessly and subtly operate in the background. They’re always there when needed, but in no way do they get in the way of the riveting, comfortable, and stylish driving experience the car provides.

Conclusion

The cherry on top for the Infiniti Q70 is its strong value-per-dollar.

The standard Q70 starts at $49,850 with the V6 and rear-wheel drive. The hybrid lands in the middle with a $55,900 base price, and the upgrade to the V8 costs $62,850. All non-hybrids ask about $2,500 extra for the bump to AWD, however the hybrid is only available in rear-wheel drive.

The long wheelbase Q70L is available for a $1,500 premium over standard models.

All models now come with the once-optional Premium Package, which separates the Q70 from many of its competitors by offering a premium sound system, sonar, heated leather seats, navigation, and a full 360-degree monitor as standard.

In short, the new Q70 is, as Infiniti says, “for those with drive.” With the addition of the executive Q70L, though, it doesn’t matter what seat you’re in.

Highs

  • Excellent performance from V6 and V8 models
  • Appealing and aggressive exterior styling
  • Impressive array of driver aid technology
  • Fantastic Bose stereo
  • Smooth ride

Lows

  • Some interior materials look chintzy
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