Infiniti has refreshed its Q70 big saloon and added a four-cylinder diesel option for the first time

What is it?

The Infiniti Q70 is the premium newcomer’s large executive offering.

The line-up has been given a facelift for 2015, aimed at improving refinement and turning it into a car that warrants consideration against its talented rivals. 

Infiniti knows it has its work cut out getting people to ignore the various German offerings in favour of an understated, virtually unknown Japanese rival, but the facelift does herald a bit of a reboot for the range. It's now a more credible alternative to an Audi A6,  BMW 5-series or Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Alongside a freshening up of the trim levels, sharpening of the looks and some refinement improvements, the big news is the arrival of a Mercedes-sourced four-cylinder diesel option. Infiniti says 71 per cent of all big executive saloons sold in Europe are four-pots, and previously its only diesel offering was a 3.0-litre V6 that was too dirty and expensive to genuinely tempt buyers.

The sum of these changes gives the Q70 line-up an altogether different complexion. Prices now start at £32,650, rather than around the £40k mark as before, and it's more economical and cleaner than before. 

What's it like?

The Q70 is a very nice place to be. The cabin is nicely put together, visibility is generally pretty good and the range of adjustment on both front seats means that even the most fussy occupants will easily get comfortable. With the two front seats pushed all the way back, you can still squeeze a pair of six-footers into the rear seats, too. That said, the combination of a large transmission tunnel and heavily sculpted rear seat squabs mean this is a four-seater rather than a five-seat car.

Comfort is what this car is good at. The heavily sculpted bonnet makes the Q70 easy to place on the road and it happily smooths out poor road surfaces, insulating the occupants from all but the most severe chasms in the road surface.

If you want a car to drive enthusiastically, however, this is not it. The Q70 is comfortable and composed, rather than dynamically adept. If you try to press on down a twisty road, the Infiniti feels big and ungainly. Certainly, a BMW 5 Series is more rewarding to drive.

The lack of a small diesel engine has put previous versions of the Q70 on the back foot against European-focused rivals. The new 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel option allows for a significantly lower starting price for the range and promises much-improved fuel economy compared with the diesel V6, which remains in the line-up. That's good news for company car buyers. 

Performance from the new diesel is perfectly acceptable. The 170bhp output doesn’t look desperately generous, but the Q70 never feels slow or short on puff. The seven-speed automatic gearbox can be wrong-footed at times, but in general there isn't much to complain about. It’s quick enough off the mark in town and happily tramps along in the outside lane at motorway speeds. 

When pulling away and under load, the 2.1-litre diesel engine makes itself known, sure, but it isn’t massively obtrusive. Get the Q70 onto the motorway, however, and the engine noise is knocked back significantly, making wind and tyre noise more noticeable than anything from under the bonnet.

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In terms of practicality, all its main rivals have more boot space and you can’t extend it, because the rear seatbacks don’t fold down. A ski hatch improves things a touch, but there is no getting away from the fact that the German competition do it better.

Should I buy one?

The Q70 is never going to be the default choice in a segment where so much of the shortlisting process is done by the badge on the back. However, this facelift makes the big Infiniti a far more enticing prospect than before.

From the outside, it’s no looker, but it certainly has presence. In fact, the best view of the Q70 is from behind the wheel; while a little fussy in places, with a lot of buttons on a lot of surfaces, it feels plush and comfortable.

The standard specification is pretty generous, too, with electric leather seats, LED lighting and masses of safety kit, although the dated sat-nav and the omission of DAB radio are disappointing.

So back to the original question: should you buy one? There are certainly executives that are better to drive, but if you're prepared to look past the usual suspects, a visit to an Infiniti dealer could now be time well spent.

2015 Infiniti Q70 2.2D Premium Tech

Price £36,750; Engine 4 cyls, 2143cc, turbodiesel; Power 168bhp at 3200-4200rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1600-2800rpm; Gearbox 7-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1896kg; Top speed 137mph; 0-62mph 8.9sec; Economy 57.6mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 129g/km, 21% 

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