2016 Infiniti Q70L road test: A luxury sedan wrapped around serious muscle

2016 Infiniti QXL

2016 Infiniti Q70L

After spending a week with the 2016 Q70L, Infiniti’s top-of-the-line sedan, I must say the experience came across as somewhat of a guilty pleasure.

The guilt, or at least a trace of it, came from traveling a couple hundred miles to nowhere in a mid-size rear-wheel-drive sedan that returned an average of less than 19 miles per gallon of premium unleaded gasoline.

The pleasure, of course, was in having a car that boasted a powerful 5.6-liter V-8 engine, a beast that churns out 416 horsepower and 414 pound-feet of torque.
There is no logical need for a 4,129-pound car that can race from a stoplight to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds, but need and desire are two different things. Any car nut will admit that old-school, American-style thrust can be exhilarating.

Infiniti Q70L instrument panel

Infiniti Q70L instrument panel

Oh, you can try to make a case that the power comes in handy in certain passing situations, but it will fall on deaf ears to anyone who understands the need to conserve natural resources and curb air pollution.

I must confess, too, that there is another downside to the Infiniti’s V-8 powerplant, which is teamed with a 7-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted manually and offers rev-matching downshifts. Floor the accelerator from a stop and the take-off is very abrupt. Once the car is underway, however, the power flows smoothly.

So, with that slight twinge of guilt and minor complaint out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what Japanese auto manufacturer Nissan is offering as part of its premium brand. To put things in focus, let’s note that the Infiniti Q70 was known as the MX when it first hit the road back in 2011.

Since the 2015 model-year upgrade, the gasoline-powered sedans comes in two sizes. The standard Q70 has a wheelbase of 114.2 inches. The Q70L I drove stretches the distance between its front and rear wheels to 120.1 inches. That translates to an extra 5.9 inches of leg room for rear-seat passengers. Rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available with both models.

Infiniti also offers a rear-wheel-drive hybrid version of the Q70, but that’s a story for another day.

Q70L front seats

Q70L front seats

The test car’s interior featured high-quality appointments, including leather seating and white ash wood trim with silver powder accents. The upscale ambience of the test car was accentuated by such expected features as dual-zone climate control, a premium 16-speaker sound system, navigation, an easy-to-operate infotainment system with an 8-inch color touch screen, Bluetooth hands-free phone operation, a tinted-glass sunroof and a rear sun shade.

The enticing back seats can be heated and there are rear heating and air conditioning controls, but no rear entertainment system.

The driving dynamics are controlled by an independent suspension, double wishbones up front and a multi-link setup at the rear; variable ratio, power rack-and-pinion steering; and, on the test car, optional sport brakes with vented discs all around, 4-piston calipers up front and 2-piston calipers at the rear. The test car was also fitted with optional 20-inch aluminum wheels.

If all of that sounds like the ingredients of a true sports sedan, you may be disappointed. Despite its ample power off the line, this Infiniti is more a highway cruiser than a back-roads carouser. The steering comes across as numb, with little information telegraphed from the road to the driver. Ride quality is acceptable on smooth highways, but less than luxurious when the road surface exhibits even slight deterioration. Brakes, however, are excellent.

Q70L back seat

Q70L back seat

The less-than-inspiring handling is all the more surprising because of the optional Active Trace Control, which adjusts engine torque and braking at each wheel to increase cornering ability; and a sport mode, which adjusts accelerator response and transmission shift points to maximize performance.

In addition to the standard and sport modes, the Q70L has an Eco mode, to increase fuel efficiency, and a snow mode, which reduces or transfers power when the driving wheels lose traction. The test car also had the optional Eco accelerator pedal. It pushes back slightly when it detects that the driver is calling for more power than needed. In my limited experience, the Eco assists did little to improve fuel mileage.

Not surprisingly, the Infiniti Q70L comes with a long list of safety features. In addition to the expected seat belts and side curtains, standard equipment includes an around-view monitor with moving object detection, rear-view camera, electronic brake force distribution, emergency brake assist, traction control and stability control. Optional features include backup collision intervention, forward collision warning, blind-spot warning and intervention, lane departure warning and prevention, and adaptive cruise control.

Q70L trunk

Q70L trunk

Base price of the Q70L is $64,550. Add the Deluxe Technology Package ($7,200); Performance Tire and Wheel Package ($1,150); Illuminated Kick Plates ($465); and delivery charge ($905) and the suggested retail price comes to $74,270.

If you are looking for a less expensive version, the base Q70 is also offered with a 330-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine and starts at $49,850. The rear-wheel-drive-only, hybrid-powered Q70 generates 360 horsepower, is rated at 34 mpg and has a base price of $55,900,

Generally speaking, that puts the Infiniti Q70s in the mix with the mid-size premium sedans offered by German manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, not to mention the British Jaguar and American Cadillac. And that means a prospective buyer has a lot to think about.

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