How far can you get in life with a giant V8 and a hot body?
That was the question we kept asking ourselves after a week behind the wheel of this 4.7-second rocket-limo.
The car is refreshingly innovative in its long-wheelbase variation -- bringing what is the best-selling global choice in luxury cars to the United States for the first time. What is this choice?
Best-selling? Allow me to explain.
The long-wheelbase variants of the A6/E-Class/5 series are easily the best sellers in the Chinese car market these days. For the most part, however, the LWB limos that luxury brands sell by the dozen in China are not shared with Euro or American buyers. The reasoning is simple: their huge back seats instantly cabbibalize the S-Class/A8 market segments on arrival. Keeping those breadwinners profitable in the US market has kept the Germans away from stretched midsize limos. Infiniti benefits here: the Q70 is their largest, flargship sedan line already.
So, it is here and it is huge! Perhaps not as wide as a 750 BMW, but also cheaper by $30k. The Q70L hopes to carve a unique niche for itself not by following Lexus and Jaguar, per the old playbook, but by being itself. A car no one else really rivals on backseat space for pricing from the $60s with a 416-pony engine.
HD DRIVE VIDEO
Slam dunk, then? End of story?
The Infiniti Q70L is a study in contrasts, and one whose fresh facelift hides some serious gaps in technology versus those rivals -- however much larger the Q70L's back seat may be.
Read on to find out if the fundamentals of a hot bod and giant motor are enough to overcome these limitations...!
The Q70L is stunningly beautiful. Its sleek new chin, wave-like grille details and cats-eye LED DRLs are all timeless, chic and very premium on the road. The cornering projector balls are LED-powered, while the massive crests in the hood and fenders are some of the most memorable on any road. It is truly feline-esque in its pouncing stance. The rounded shoulders out back even hide the ultra-long rear doors and stretched back seat. It is discrete, but clearly quite expensive on the road. No automatic highbeams on the Q70L, and the AFS cornering lamps are less precise than some rivals. LED fogs and blinkers are delicious in front, though.
An evolved version of the Q50's LED taillamp designs affirm this Q70 as the flagship of the marque. Discrete, dark-finish dual exhausts are visually and audibly a bit too quiet for such a top-spec model, however. The $1000 optional sport wheels and brakes are hot, though. They firmly plant the Q70L on the pavement both visually and at max-attack cornering.
What does every gorgeous gym-bunny worry about in their darkest hour? Those rock-hard muscles often hide a fear that they might be dumb....
Who knows? Are they? Let's do another few reps to shake off this funk!
The Q70L's cabin is a gorgeous flow of luxury designs, sweeping Japanese-ash woods with dark silver accents throughout. It is on-trend and certainly up to its luxury rivals on material and assembly quality. Same goes for the incredibly roomy, yet supportive, leather thrones all around. Vented seats and power tilt/telescope for the steering wheel deliver a drive mood and position that feels sports-car low. Nearly perfect, then! The touchpoints all affirm this superlux mission. We adore the brown leathers and taste levels inside the car, as well as its super-premium Coach-store aromatics. Even after 15k miles!
The back seat is indeed gigantic. And quite comfortable for two people. Giant doors open wide and let entry/exit be easy and elegant. Decent refinement up front does give way to some serious tire rumble for those seated in the back, however.
Other dings in the Q70L's armor start cascading to the surface the moment you start nitpicking. For one, this limo-like back seat does have great roominess. But for backseat drivers, there is woefully little control. No climate controls back there, no reclining seats, minimal vents and no way to really block out the hot sun -- or prying eyes -- that are such a menace to The Driven.
They will enjoy the thumping 18-speaker Bose audio, but perhaps scoff at the lack of rear USBs. Just a single socket outlet on back of rear armrest is the only electronic goody in back. That is barely above a Corolla in terms of amenities -- no matter the space available.
Still, it is huge. And for cross-legged comfort, the Q70L does stand alone versus the 550i or E550.
An ultra curious element of the Q70L was its spec level. The $7200 Tech package packs a giant laundry-list of active safety systems. The thing is: they are not up to snuff. The AroundView camera is indeed still nice. But the Infiniti's lane-keep assist, active cruise, parking sensors and other tech is seriously, seriously dated. The systems work as designed, but they work only as well as they did in about 2011 or so. Endless bings, bongs and warnings are silence-able by venturing deep in the menus. But these deficiencies are real versus the latest semi-auto drive tech on offer from rivals.
Example? The auto cruise is ridiculously jumpy and nervous, diving on the brakes unnecessarily and generally being unhelpful. And this you cannot disable: the cruise control actually slows down around highway corners. Then speeds up when straight ahead again. This is immensely irritating to some drivers, such as your scribe.
Second example? The Bluetooth audio streaming has a 3-second lag time, is hard to sync up, and then hard to actually turn off. So silly. Same with the USB. We found no way to avoid USB playing iPhone audio when we just wanted it to charge the phone. No aux-in cable -- rendered supposedly obsolete by the BT and USB links. But as a result, we drove down the road with 18-speakers silent. And the tiny, tinny iPhone speakers playing out the music videos we wanted to watch.
One step forward then, in the Q70L, but two steps back. The most glaring piece of old tech in the Q70L, unfortunately, stares you in the face at all times: a dot-matrix mid-cluster screen that does less, shows less and excites less than an Altima. Desperately in need of a full IT re-do, this Infiniti is.
These cabin-tech issues are somewhat subjective, and may never worry owners. For its pure purpose of ultra-smooth, fast and silent driving, the Infiniti Q70L does it as well as anyone might hope. Even BMW drivers. But expect some gaps in synapse connectedness in exchange for all the style, power and space.
Some cognitive limitations in the Q70L's technology make themselves known even when not ranting about the finicky auto cruise and lazy, untrusty lane-keep assist. This is a double-edged sword: Yes, the Q70L does not keep its driver on a tight leash. Little computer management for the throttle, nor invasive ESP interventions a la the Hyundai Genesis. Rock-solid steering and sport brakes are divine in the Q70L -- and are as good when driving calmly as they are when in a red rush.
The seven-speed auto is also fair excellent. It absolutely nails a throttle-jab downshift for passing maneuvers. The 5.6-liter V8 is smooth as glass even when on full throttle, jetting past slower traffic like they were stopped.
But the throttle/autobox interplay is not always happy and harmonious. The main problem is the electronic throttle. It is imprecise, jumpy in Sport but laggy in Normal. This same floor-mounted gas pedal acts pained and almost-dead in Eco mode... but this is as-designed).
Mostly, this tricky throttle makes itself known on a hard launch from a stop. There is a countable lag between when my foot hits the floor in the video above, for example, before the car takes off. This slight pause is also present in other, more trivial matters. Tap the off button on the car, and there is a yawning gap before the doors self-unlock themselves. The overall effect makes one feel like the Q70L is, perhaps, not a quick thinker.
The Q70 comes in AWD or RWD V6 versions, plus V6 LWB varieties too. The Q70 Hybrid is a unique offering in the marketplace, too. Our Q70L V8 model was rear-drive, but AWD is available with the V8 as well.
The test Q70L 5.6 stickered from $65k, with a few options taking the total to $74k in all. The big tech package did not win fans here for its functionality or value-for-money.
The long-wheelbase Infiniti Q70L is a study in contrasts. While beautiful and elegant, it whacks you with yestertech throwbacks when you lease expect them. Every exterior light, for example, is LED-powered --- right down to the license-plate lighting. But inside, tap on the overhead lamps? Yellow as a 40-watt Sylvania reading light -- and just as tacky.
Other examples are plentiful, but need not be wrangled here. Many buyers will not notice, nor care if they do. For someone driving the latest 2016 rivals to this car back-to-back, however, the Q70L creates much brow furrowing. Cognitive dissonance sets in with all these contrasts between past and future -- right in the present. On the plus side, the tech suite and all its buttons are fairly simple to use for climate, nav and audio functionality.
But what about that big kielbasa of a V8 plus huge traps of a back seat? Doesn't that heal all wounds?
The Q70L's tech and drive thrills are far off the world's best from Deutschland. Let alone Lexus, or even the Dodge Charger V8. We're down just 50 or so HP versus the GS-F, for example, but a world away in terms of driver rewards.
In closing, the Q70L's gorgeous jawline and buff V8 are a bit more enticing than the car's brains. For many, though, big power and roominess will be enough for years of happiness together.