Now here’s an innovative idea. Rather than invest big money on a full-size luxury sedan that probably won’t sell very well anyway, why not simply stretch your midsize sedan to full-size proportions to give owners with tall passengers the roominess they require? That’s what the 2016 Infiniti Q70L is.
The Q70 was actually lengthened last year, but it was only available in V8-powered Q70L 5.6 AWD guise. That model continues for 2016 along with this new V6-powered Q70L 3.7 AWD, a trim that will likely be more popular due to a lower initial price point and reduced running costs. The latter starts at $64,300, while the former adds $4,500 for a suggested retail price of $68,800. Either model represents a significant upgrade over the base Q70 3.7 AWD at $57,300.
It all starts with that 150mm (5.9”) wheelbase extension, adding considerably more rear legroom for a much more luxurious experience in the back. The Q70L is actually longer overall than some of the F-segment Germans, but due to E-segment underpinnings it’s narrower and therefore doesn’t offer quite as much interior volume. Still, for the majority of luxury buyers seeking extra rear legroom rather than XXL mass, the Q70L’s more easily maneuverable XL size could be the perfect fit.
Equipped like a castle
From a features perspective, the lengthened 2016 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 AWD builds on the already well-equipped, regular-wheelbase Q70. Included are 20” alloy wheels (instead of 18”), adaptive and auto-leveling headlights, front fog lamps with unique chromed bezels, more exterior chrome trim, a leather-like stitched meter hood, more upscale soft-touch synthetic used for the armrests, door inserts, centre console and knee pads, a rich suede-like headliner, unique White Ash silver-powdered wood trim, upgraded semi-aniline leather upholstery in a quilted pattern, additional side bolstering, heated rear outboard seats, soft rear-door closure assist, a power rear-window sunshade, and six extra Bose speakers for a total of 16.
Safety in the Q70L 3.7 AWD is enhanced by adaptive cruise control, active trace control, blind spot monitoring with intervention, lane departure warning and prevention, predictive collision warning, forward emergency braking, backup collision intervention, and more. All of this earned the car a “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the IIHS.
Also standard, the 2016 Infiniti Q70L’s 3.7L V6 puts out a stout 330 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque. This mill is not as energetic off the line or during passing maneuvers as the 5.6L V8 (with 416 horsepower and 414 lb-ft of torque), but its output was more than I could legally use anywhere I drove it, and certainly powerful enough to put a smile on my face anytime I planted my right foot to the floor.
At least as enjoyable is Infiniti’s superb 7-speed automatic transmission complete with adaptive shift control that actually learns your personal driving styles and adapts accordingly. The shifter-controlled manual mode allows for downshift rev-matching to make you look and sound like Kevin Magnussen rowing through the gears of his Renault F1 car.
Like me, you might be a bit disappointed that paddle shifters aren’t included (I kept hunting for them all week). They are reserved for regular-length Q70 Sport buyers only, which is a strange choice being that it’s such a sporty car even without the Sport model’s performance upgrades. Also, paddles are expected in the Q70L’s price range, not to mention Infiniti could use a few extras to lure in would-be buyers. Still, I adapted and the Infiniti Q70L 3.7 AWD was plenty rewarding just the same.
An advanced Attesa ET-S all-wheel drive system is standard fare, along with a Drive Mode Selector that lets you choose between Standard, Sport, Snow, and Eco modes and then controls throttle response and shift points to make the most of the available traction. Speaking of which, the massive 245/40R20 Bridgestone Potenza tires offer a good compromise between dry-weather performance and year-round grip.
How does it drive?
Truly, the 2016 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 AWD is a deft handler for such a long, compliant, luxury-focused vehicle. While ultimately comfortable and smooth on all but the worst road surfaces I encountered, it was brilliantly sporty when called upon. Of course, the regular-wheelbase Q70 feels a bit more tossable through the corners, but this long-wheelbase version remains plenty planted through tight, twisting two-laners while that added length improves high-speed stability, which is ideal in this car. I don’t know whether to refer to it as a performance-oriented luxury car or a luxuriously appointed sports sedan, but it sure is one of the more entertaining cars in its class.
I particularly like the way the Drive Mode Selector sits within easy reach of the right hand while resting my elbow on the armrest, this allowing me to quickly switch between Standard and Sport modes, or over to the left for Eco (Snow wasn’t needed).
On this last point I must say that I’m still not a fan of the Q70’s Eco setting, which is unusual because I normally leave any given vehicle in its thriftiest, most environmentally friendly mode most of the time. This one is so intrusive, however, adding disconcerting backpressure to the throttle when pressed down “too far” for its liking, while dulling all of its senses so much that it’s no longer even remotely enjoyable. Overall, the Q70L 3.7 AWD’s claimed fuel economy is 13.2L/100km city and 10.2L/100km highway, which is certainly an improvement when compared to the 14.9L/100km city rating of the Q70L 5.6 AWD, although their highway mileage is identical.
A few more complaints
I should now mention a couple of other issues that might turn off first-time Infiniti buyers (never a good thing as salespeople probably have about five minutes max to either impress or lose a potential customer on the test drive). If it’s a winter drive you may want to warm up the heated steering wheel, but the switch is located out of sight down by your left knee where you could just as easily turn off the stability control (not a good idea in cold conditions), disengage some of the active safety features (ditto), power up the rear sunshade, or open the trunk (which would be a ruddy pain in the arse as you’d have to get out and walk around back to close it). Somewhere on the steering wheel seems more convenient, doesn’t it Infiniti?
Additionally, I wasn’t able to listen to my usual financial/investment podcasts via Bluetooth streaming audio (they’re on my smartphone), which is the first time this has happened. No doubt there’s some internal setting that needed adjustment, but I couldn’t find it.
I suppose the only other criticism would be slightly dated electronic interfaces. The electroluminescent primary gauges are gorgeous in their deep purple backlit radiance, but missing driver-configurable TFT displays as is the norm in today’s luxury market. The multi-information display in the centre is even more of a monochromatic letdown. The large 8” infotainment screen isn’t the highest in resolution or richest in contrast either, while it has yet to be updated with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Infiniti was the first with a 360-degree parking camera, but even this superb feature gets marred by poor image quality, especially when compared to the crystal-clear systems on offer from most rivals. By the way, the Q50 does a much better job of infotainment all around, so expect Q70 models to improve when updates arrive.
Rich interior accoutrements
Where the 2016 Infiniti Q70L 3.7 AWD excels most is in interior design and execution. It looks certainly more traditional than some others in the class, with stunning glossy wood, chrome and brushed metal accents and sumptuous leathers, not to mention one of the classiest analog clocks in the auto biz.
For starters, the big Infiniti includes more soft-touch surfaces than the majority of its E-segment peers, including the entire dash top (the primary meter hood is even padded with a French-stitched leather) and instrument panel facing. The high-quality, pliable materials reach all the way down both sides of the centre stack and even along the lower console, not to mention across the glove box lid and underneath the dash where the front passenger’s knees reside.
The front seats in the Infiniti Q70L are wonderfully comfortable and commendably supportive with large side bolsters. Meanwhile, the rear seating area delivers first-class legroom, wonderful comfort from the outboard positions with superb lower back support, and a nice flip-down, leather-covered armrest with dual integrated cup holders. The aforementioned rear-seat heaters are nice, too, and ideal for warming up after a day on the slopes with skis sticking out of the centre pass-through.
Of course, the 2016 Infiniti Q70L isn’t about to make a Mercedes-Maybach S-Class or BMW 750Li owner forget their ride. Rather, it was designed to be driven, not necessarily driven in, while providing ample rear-seat room for your family and friends.
This was a very smart choice for Infiniti. While a dedicated full-size luxury model would certainly bring some attention to the Japanese brand, at least over the short term, it wouldn’t sell very well and would eat up valuable resources that could otherwise be spent developing models that target popular segments. The Q70L serves full-size luxury buyers who want to keep a lot more money in their wallets, which makes it the intelligent full-size alternative. The fact that it’s also an excellent luxury sports sedan is just a bonus.