What is it?
It’s a China-only Infiniti M that’s been stretched between the hubs and renamed to fit the luxury brand’s new naming structure. Infiniti saloons, coupés and cabrios will shortly get a ‘Q’ prefix, and its SUVs will start with ‘QX’. We’ve already had an early turn in the Q50 (replacement for the G-series compact saloon), which is the only model in the range to benefit from a thorough reworking to coincide with the name change.
When the M becomes the Q70 (which will, conversely, be no more than a badge change), there won’t be a long-wheelbase version in the UK, but Infiniti’s continuing quest to be a leader in the luxury sector and to gain a foothold against the likes of the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and Jaguar XF in the mid-size saloon sector could conspire to bring a Q70L to our shores at a later date.
We already rate the M-series for its big-car agility, luxury interior finish and hushed touring ability, but despite generous levels of kit, the price tag is hard to justify, and it falls marginally short of the competition in myriad other ways. One of those criteria is rear cabin space, which is tackled head-on by the Q70L’s extra 150mm in wheelbase.
What's it like?
For two back seat passengers, the extra length pays dividends, with occupants of 6ft 2in finding their legs in plenty of fresh air behind someone of the same height. But while the car’s sleek and swooping exterior aesthetic masks its additional length neatly, it does limit headroom, especially towards the doorframes. A fifth occupant of the same size will also benefit from plenty of legroom, but will have to stoop.
Packing five into such a car will be a rarity, but any saloon with limo pretensions shouldn’t want for headroom, and the boot remains quite small for its class and awkward in shape thanks to intrusive wheel arches.
The rest of this car’s package is less relevant to our enquiries due to its Chinese focus. But for the record, it uses a 2.5-litre petrol V6 that’s not seen in any application on our shores but shares much with the 3.7-litre V6 of the UK-spec M37. Both employ 24 valves with variable timing and lift, but the Chinese-market car produces 84bhp less at 232bhp and 78lb ft less at 187lb ft, despite similar economy and emissions figures.
The powertrain is smooth but quite loud at higher revs, and you’ll need to endure that prominent, not-quite tuneful soundtrack to extract decent performance from the car; stay below 4000rpm and progress is slovenly. Like UK M-series cars, the Q70L has a seven-speed automatic gearbox, but there are no paddles, and while shifts are smooth, kickdown is leisurely and manual override is slow during upshifts, if passably swift during downshifts.
The chassis tuning also shies away from the agility we enjoy from UK-spec M-series cars, with hesitant turn-in and a fair amount of roll. Likewise, the steering is overly light and lacking in feel. Aside from some tyre grumbles over rough surfaces, though, the ride is comfy and lateral body control is still respectable, while the helm is reassuringly consistent.