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.