Infiniti is a relative newcomer to the UK, but already it hopes to challenge established rivals like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6 with the Q70, the executive saloon formerly known as the M.
That’s a bit of a tall order given consumers’ love of German machinery, but is the posh arm of Nissan onto a winner? We’ll admit to being in two minds after our first drive, but 500-odd miles of testing later it’s begun to win us over.
At first glance it could appear Infiniti has been a little too bold with its design decisions, but the Q70’s looks grow on you. Neat touches like the wave-like bonnet arches, meaty front grille and sleek daytime running lights give it a likable mix of aggressive and stately.
The Q70 is quirky and different, so it stands out, unlike some of its commonplace rivals. From some angles you could go as far as calling it striking. Few people will know what it is and that will be a turn-on for some.
The Q70 Hybrid offers so much headroom you will feel like Warwick Davis when sat inside it, while the legroom is generous in the front and back. The seats are very comfortable and ventilated, which should make long trips less arduous.
The petrol and diesel models have a 450-litre boot. In the hybrid you get 350 litres because of all the electrical bits hidden behind the rear seat, which means you may struggle with Ikea trips. You could probably get golf clubs in, just not three or four suitcases. The rear seats don’t fold down, and the middle seat is raised, limiting the amount of headroom for taller passengers.
“It’s almost impossible to reach the seat adjuster controls while the door is closed.”
Little touches like the curved dashboard and glovebox really maximise the interior space. There’s plenty of stowage in the front and rear arm rests, centre console, door bins, pockets on the backs of the front seats and various other cubbies.
Other quirks might make you think less of an otherwise sensibly laid out, well-built cabin. For instance, it’s almost impossible to reach the seat adjuster controls while the door is closed, but such things aren’t dealbreakers.
German interiors are easier on the eye and boast better attention to detail, but the Q70 delivers a luxury feel in its own quirky way.
Performance & handling
Of the three engines available, the Hybrid is easily the best. The combination of a 3.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor makes for a ridiculous surge of pace when you need it, but the linear power delivery means it’s gloriously smooth and very torquey. You may find it hard to resist burying the accelerator in between meetings. 0 to 62mph takes 5.3 seconds, which is considerably faster than the 3.7-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel alternatives.
The V6 sounds fantastic, though we do wish it was a tad louder at full pelt.
Its nearest competitor, the BMW ActiveHybrid 5, is nearly as powerful but achieves 0 to 60mph (not 62mph) in 5.6 seconds. The Mercedes E300 BlueTec Hybrid, meanwhile, takes 7.1 seconds.
“The V6 sounds fantastic, though we do wish it was a tad louder at full pelt…”The Q70 feels less planted than its German rivals and does little to inspire high-speed cornering, owing to a lack of steering feel, but it has decent body control when asked to change direction rapidly.
At slower speeds it eats up bigger bumps with ease, is surprisingly easy to manoeuvre given its size and generally rewarding to drive and around town.
The seven-speed gearbox is smooth and seamless, while sport mode is relatively quick to react. Optional paddle shifters can be specified, but we never felt they were necessary.
Equivalent German rivals offer a more clinical and composed drive, but at the expense of straight line fun. The Q70 is agile enough when it needs to be and will leave most cars for dust, while keeping astonishingly quiet around town.
Economy & environment
The Infiniti Q70’s electric motor is there to improve performance, not save the planet. Even so, Infiniti claims up to 44.9mpg and 145g/km of CO2 emissions.
While you are unable to drive in electric only by choice, the Infiniti Q70 is happy jumping back into electric-only if you accelerate gently or keep to a steady pace. The eco and normal driving modes really do soften the accelerator response, helping eke out a bit more fuel.
We seemed to average around 25mpg around town with careful driving and in the thirties at motorway speeds. This is hardly the car of choice for penny-pinchers, then, even if your tax bill will be pretty low for a car with such a large engine.
For those who want to appease Mother Nature, the Mercedes E 300 BlueTec Hybrid is cheaper and has fuel economy of 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of just 109g/km.
Meanwhile the £47,790 BMW ActiveHybrid 5 manages 149g/km at best and 163g/km at worst, depending on the wheel size and gearbox. Fuel economy ranges between 40.4 and 44.1mpg.
There’s no Audi A6 hybrid, but for the same money you could get a 3.0-litre TDI quattro tiptronic with 315bhp, CO2 emissions of 159g/km and a claimed 47.1mpg if you fancy a diesel.
Equipment & value
£44,000 is a lot for a saloon but the Infiniti Q70 scores well here. You get a lot for your money in terms of equipment. Navigation is standard, for instance. Then there are the 18-inch alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, LED headlights and the aforementioned leather seats with ventilation.
This particular model is fitted with two optional extras, a £680 metallic paintjob and a £950 sunroof, bringing the total to a cool £48,230. We actually found the grey a bit drab so you might be better off with one of the free alternatives.
Six airbags, Japanese build quality, a long bonnet and an array of safety systems should help the Q70 come out of a crash in better shape than most cars, but without a EURO NCAP test we can only speculate.
Fortunately the Q70 will do its best to prevent an accident from happening in the first place using intelligent cruise control with low-speed following (it works very well), Approaching Vehicle Sound for pedestrians, rain and light sensors, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane departure prevention.
The Infiniti Q70 Hybrid is a great option for those who want something effortless and smooth. It could be a good company car choice as it has low CO2 emissions, yet is also thrilling to drive.
But there’s a catch. Badge snobbery goes a long way in justifying nearly £50,000 and most people will think you have lost the plot if you buy a car made by a manufacturer no one has heard of. Just 734 Infinitis were sold in the UK in 2014. Ferrari sold 6,922 cars worldwide in 2013. They’re not exactly a common sight, then.
A BMW or Merc might be the more sensible choice, particularly if you’re interested in showing off to those around you, or if you’re concerned about resale value, but you will feel like a sheep.