Review of: 2015 INFINITI Q70L 4dr Sdn V8
2015 Infiniti Q70L: More room and vroom, but back-seat gloom
By Jil McIntosh
Mar. 9, 2015
One of the oddities of the auto world is that the largest cars occupy the smallest segment. Only a handful of manufacturers make long-wheelbase sedans, and Infiniti is now among that number.
The Q70L is the stretched version of the company’s flagship Q sedan line, which also includes the regular-wheelbase Q70 and Q70 Hybrid. In the U.S. you can order the Q70L with a V6 engine and rear-wheel drive, but in Canada’s much smaller market, there’s only the top-line model: a V8 with all-wheel drive and a single trim for $68,400. You can pay extra for paint, though, and my tester’s coat of Hermosa Blue added $385 to the tag.
Pros & Cons
- + Well-matched engine/transmission
- + Interior design
- + Styling
- - Driveability
- - Ride comfort
- - Steering feel
The Q70L certainly looks the part. The signature Infiniti grille curves up into bulging front fenders that look great when you’re behind the wheel, along with angry-looking LED headlights and elegant chrome fog lights. The wheel wells flare out over the 20-inch wheels and the car looks good in profile, as the longer rear door doesn’t look exaggerated.
At the rear, the LED taillights wrap around the fenders and illuminate with a gorgeous and unmistakable double-curve pattern. There’s just enough chrome at the rear to keep it interesting and elegant. But that said, when you pop the trunk button on the key fob, the lid unlocks and nothing more. It’s bad enough that there isn’t a power trunk, but couldn’t it at least spring up and make it easier for me to load my groceries?
The cabin is equally impressive as well, with gentle curves on the dash, quilted door panels, and wood trim that has silver dust embedded in it. Yes, it sounds gaudy, but it isn’t, and the soft glimmer is lovely. Unlike many premium models, the Q70L also has easy-to-find and easy-to-use controls in the centre stack, including heated and cooled seats that operate with dials instead of through the touch-screen.
But all is not perfect in this paradise. The front door armrests are so wide that it’s almost impossible to fit your hand—including my tiny paw—down to reach the seat controls.
And while that extra wheelbase gives you an incredible amount of rear-seat legroom, you don’t get much more than that back there: heated seats, a power outlet, reading lamps, and a sunshade on the back glass (but not on the side windows). I expect that’s because the Q70L was designed for the Chinese market, where the long wheelbase itself is the status symbol, rather than over here where those in the back seat expect to find numerous amenities.
The Q70L contains the usual infotainment system you’d expect at this level: 16-speaker Bose Surround Sound system, satellite radio, navigation system, streaming audio, and available Infiniti apps for your phone. You also get the company’s Personal Assistant, a 24/7 program that connects you to a concierge service through your phone, even if you aren’t in the car. And it’s not just about the car: when I tried it as part of a company promotion a few years ago, the operator made a restaurant reservation for me in Pennsylvania before I set off on a trip there.
The car also comes with a full suite of active safety and efficiency features, for better or for worse. These include active cruise control, bird’s-eye-view camera, forward collision warning and emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot monitor, an “eco pedal” that pushes back against your foot if you’re not driving efficiency (it’s very annoying and can be dialled back or turned off), and a backup collision intervention system that kept jamming on the brakes when I backed into my carport alongside another car but nowhere near collision-close. It seems like there’s always something pushing, pulling, beeping or chiming, and the overall impression is that while Infiniti may have intended to give me a powerful car, it doesn’t really want me to drive it.
The 5.6-litre V8 pumps out 416 horsepower and 414 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. It’s a great engine: smooth, quiet, torquey, and perfectly mated to that seven-cog autobox. It also returned an impressive 13.5 L/100 km in bitterly cold driving for me, against its published figures of 15.0 in the city and 10.2 on the highway.
But for all that I love this engine, the driving performance overall is lacking, especially if you’ve driven the Q70 or my favourite of the three, the even perkier Q70 Hybrid. The Q70L’s steering feels heavier and not as immediately responsive. And while its ride would be considered just fine in a $20,000 car, it’s far too noisy for something that’s more than three times that much. Luxury should waft, not bump, and the Q70L’s suspension bottoms out too easily, and at the passengers’ expense.
If all you want is extra floor space for the rear seats, then the Q70L is a bargain. Long-wheelbase versions of the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class start around $100,000 and go up from there, sometimes to more than twice that much.
But they also include numerous features for the rear-seat passengers that the Q70L does not. And so the spoiler for this Infiniti, believe it or not, is Hyundai and its top-line Equus sedan, which pulls more power out of its 429-horsepower V8 and is virtually the same length as the Q70L. The base Equus Signature model is $63,900, which is $4,500 less than the Q70L’s tag of $68,400.
But if you step up to the Equus Ultimate, at $71,000, you get most of the Q70L’s electronic safety features and its front-seat amenities. And then Hyundai gives you a boatload of things that Infiniti doesn’t: head-up display, air suspension, dual-screen rear-seat DVD, rear side window sunshades, a power trunk (that pops up automatically when you stand beside it with the key in your pocket), power-closing doors, and heated and ventilated rear seats with power recline, lumbar support, and power head restraints. Yes, a $2,600 difference is a lot of money, but at this price point, it’s really a no-brainer.
It’s going to be a hit in Hong Kong, but I’m not so sure about the Q70L’s prospects here in Canada. The long-wheelbase market is already extremely small, and it’s a niche one where buyers usually want as much impressive stuff in the back as they do in the front. I give Infiniti points for trying, but time will tell whether bringing this Chinese-market model to Canada is actually going to pay off.