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2015 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 First Drive Review

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 9/11/2015 Zach Gale
2015 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 First Drive Review 2015-Infiniti-Q70L-37-front-three-quarter© Provided by MotorTrend 2015-Infiniti-Q70L-37-front-three-quarter

The Infiniti Q70 isn't your average midsize luxury sedan—it's way less popular. Exclusivity is another way to describe that, and it's part of what makes the Q70—previously known as the M37, M56, and M35h—so appealing. After a drive up the California coast in a 2015 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 with highway driving, stop-and-go traffic, and winding roads, I understand what makes this car worth a look for Lexus GS 350, BMW 535i, and Mercedes-Benz E350 buyers, but I also understand what holds it back.
The 2015 Q70's enormous advantage over better-selling competitors is the long-wheelbase model's rear-seat space. Although the new Q70L lacks a reclining feature in the back seats, there's still far more space for two than you'll find in the back of a 5 Series, A6, CTS, E-Class, or GS. Throw in the fact that the long-wheelbase costs less than $2,000 more than the regular Q70 with a V-6 or V-8 or with rear- or all-wheel drive, and the Q70L's value comes into focus. Because the Infiniti nameplate commands less respect at the country club than BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the Q70L with a V-6 is also less expensive than the less spacious six-cylinder versions of those German competitors.

With the money saved compared to the BMW and Mercedes, you might decide to splurge on every option, but I'd caution against that. Our $60,605 2015 Q70L 3.7 tester was loaded for a rear-wheel-drive six-cylinder model, with a $3,300 Technology package, $3,900 Deluxe Touring package, and a $1,150 tire, wheel, and brakes upgrade package. The first two are great, but I'd reluctantly skip the last one if this were my daily driver, as the road noise caused by those big wheels and tires might not be worth the added sportiness and curb appeal for those who often travel over roads with less than perfect surfaces. It's a shame, but at least the Q70L's standard 18s feature an attractive design you won't find on the regular-wheelbase Q70s.
On the road, the 2015 Q70L 3.7's seven-speed automatic proved refreshingly quick to respond to wide-open throttle blasts, just like the eight-cylinder Q70 5.6 sedan we tested last year. In those lead-footed moments, I appreciated the car's strong engine note, though others might find it loud and coarse, as we did in a 2012 comparison. (The Infiniti finished fourth of four cars) The car's naturally aspirated, 330-hp, 3.7-liter V-6, which makes 270 lb-ft of torque, provides respectable Motor Trend-tested performance. In that 2012 comparison, the Infiniti with the same engine and the bigger wheels accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. That's the same time as a 2012 BMW 535i, 0.1 second slower than a 2013 Lexus GS 350 F Sport, 0.3 second quicker than an all-wheel-drive 2013 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic, and 0.8 second quicker than a 2014 Cadillac CTS with a 3.6-liter V-6. The surprisingly quick 2016 Audi A6 3.0T with all-wheel drive hits 60 in 4.7 seconds but carries a much higher base price than the Q70L 3.7.


The Q70's steering feels on the heavier side and is reasonably responsive. I really like some of the design details, from the wavelike pattern on the front grille to the curved pattern featured on the speedometer and tachometer. As Jonny Lieberman wrote in our First Test of an eight-cylinder Q70, the chrome accents in the foglight surrounds are cool, too. A special-edition 2016 Q70 will feature real aluminum interior trim, but I'm a bigger fan of the Deluxe Touring package's glossy Japanese White Ash wood trim, which has silver powder accents. The wood accents give the interior a richer appeal, as does the package's suedelike headliner.
Back to the business of driving. Our Q70L featured Infiniti's Drive Mode Selector, with Standard, Eco, Sport, and Snow settings that alter the transmission and throttle sensitivity. The selector adjusts settings for the Active Trace Control system that can brake an individual wheel to keep the car in line around a curve, and also tweaks settings on the Eco Pedal, which can forcefully push back on the accelerator pedal if you're driving inefficiently. Don't worry—one of the three settings is Off. The Q70L's ability to apply brakes to keep you in line makes possible the lane departure prevention system. Although it's helpful, I look forward to the next-gen Q70 offering a similar system to that of the Q50, which is steering-based in its help and a tad less intrusive. Still, the $3,300 Technology package is worth it for the rest of the active safety tech that helps the Q70 achieve Top Safety Pick+ status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The car is also rated five stars overall (out of a possible five stars) in testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

No matter how much you spend on a Q70, the center-stack screen is 7 inches, plenty big if your daily driver predates the march toward gigantic Tesla Model S-size screens but not so big if you just test drove a Lexus GS with its 12.3-inch screen. I'm also looking forward to seeing an instrument cluster screen with better graphics and more info or an available head-up display. Better fuel economy would be a plus, too, as the rear-drive 2015 Q70 with the V-6 is EPA-rated at 18/26 mpg city/highway, lower than the 2015 Lexus GS 350 (19/29 mpg), Mercedes-Benz E350 (20/29 mpg), BMW 535i (20/31 mpg), and Cadillac CTS (18/29 mpg).
When passenger space is more important than fuel economy, the Q70L should rise toward the top of your search. Avoid those flashy 20-inch wheels, and you're left with a somewhat exclusive sub-$60,000 luxury sedan with a back seat like nothing else around.

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