Infiniti Q70

Still a left-field alternative to the Europeans

JAMES WHITBOURN

TODAYíS premium-large establishment knows it needs to offer a pampering ride and a sports-sedan drive, but the 2012 relocation of Infinitiís headquarters from Yokohama to status-obsessed Hong Kong served to underscore that the brand and the Q70 are not so certain.

The Infiniti Q70 has solid fundamentals in that its big, rear-drive platform possesses DNA from parent Nissanís 370Z and GT-R, and is underpinned by double A-arm front and multi-link rear suspensions.

The Sports Premium version duly ticks the high-performance boxes.

A smooth 3.7-litre V6 produces 235kW and 360Nm, sounds subtly snarly, and delivers a once-wasquick 6.2sec for 0-100km/h. Firmer sports suspension and sticky Bridgestones on 20-inch wheels, wrapped around big brakes with four-pot front calipers, add to the perception.

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE The Japanese sedan turns in with speed and immediacy thatís almost disconcerting, assisted by the Sport Premiumís active four-wheel-steering system, and it powers with authority via a sevenspeed automatic.

But in a straight line itís the GT Premium Hybrid thatís the sports star (as well as the miser at 6.9L/100km, compared with 10.2- 10.8 for the 3.7). With a 290Nm electric motor allied to a smaller, 3.5-litre V6, its combined 268kW and 546Nm outputs make it an effortless and quick (5.3sec to 0-100km/h) limo.

Curiously, though, despite this being the most potent version Ė and the most costly at $82,990 Ė the Hybrid misses out on the fourpot brakes, sports suspension and big wheels, rolling instead on 18s.

The entry-level GT, like the Hybrid, drops the sports pretensions (and features) and emerges with a distinctly different personality. Without the petrol-electric modelís speed, the GT is a cruiser that offers more relaxed steering and a suppler ride.

The variants align, however, by being superficially entertaining as long as you donít ask for too much, particularly on tight or bumpy roads, because the Q70ís cabin is quieter than it is cushy, especially on the sports suspension and 20s.

Where the Q70 excels is in cabin space and appointments, features and value. While the former have changed little in the facelift Ė the broad cabin already boasted semianiline leather, 10-way powered, heated and ventilated front seats, and a heated steering wheel on a powered column Ė the value equation improves thanks to unchanged pricing and big boosts in equipment centred on safety and fashion (see breakout).

Ultimately, though, the Q70ís sports/luxe indecision means it falls short of Europeís best against either measure. peed, s uppler ride

Safety upgrade

Beyond the restyled exterior and extra LED bling, the updated Q70 majors on advanced safety. To the outgoing versionís suite, the new model adds (from the GT upwards) Ďpreventioní to the lane-departure warning system and Ďinterventioní to the blind-spot warning system, as well as forward emergency braking, forward-collision warning and back-up collision intervention systems.