by Roger Biermann
Lexus isn't the only Japanese provider of alternatives to the BMW 5 Series. Infiniti offers its flagship Q70 up to the fray, too. Though the new Q denomination may have only arrived in 2013, but its origins start before that as the Infiniti M from 2011. What was once the Infiniti M35h has now become the Q70 Hybrid LUXE, available in standard and long wheelbase – pairing a familiar Infiniti/Nissan V6 with a dose of electric power to reduce city fuel consumption and add a slight element of extra performance to the mix. But in an age of plug-in hybrids, can a mild hybrid still cut the mustard?
3.5-liter V6 Hybrid
For a platform as old as this, the ergonomics and layout are still surprisingly great. Relatively wide door apertures lead to high mounted seats – relative to the floor level – that are supple and comfortable. Not just soft and cushy, but all day cross-country comfort. The wrap-around dashboard and elevated center console make for an impressive driving position that feels sportier than the large sedans overall impression might suggest, and it doesn't come at the price of visibility which remains excellent, forwards at least. A high belt line diminishes rear visibility somewhat, though it doesn't have too negative an effect.
Cabin trim feels, for the most part, up market, with quality leathers paired to quality switchgear. The dated infotainment system has come in for much criticism, and with no 2018 Hybrid model planned, it will remain a sore point as it misses out on an infotainment upgrade.
Though vastly larger, the Q70 Hybrid's platform is shared with the Nissan 370Z. Sling it through a series of corners and those sporting roots become apparent. On winding roads, it has the tendency to shrink around the driver – a valuable trait in this segment. In standard guise, the ride is soft and comfort biased, though over larger bumps the ride can become bouncy. The secondary ride is also jittery and the body shell rattles over poor roads. Without the available Sport Package from other models body lean is pronounced and contact with the road surface isn't always a surety. The 18-inch alloys do however make the ride more supple than the Sport's 20s would..
The Q70 Hybrid scores strongly in steering and brake feel – the former offering a lightweight and responsive turn-in, though the weighting is a bit light. The brake pedal drips with feedback and has a reassuring weight to it, along with strong stopping power.
Unlike the QX60 Hybrid, the Q70's mild hybrid system makes use of an almost full-size motor compared to standard models. Just 0.2-liters is all you sacrifice, packing a 3.5-liter V6 under the hood that generates 302 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, mated to an electric motor that develops 67hp and 214 lb-ft. Combined outputs are 360hp and 403 lb-ft, paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. 28/33 MPG are the city/highway consumption figures rated by the EPA, but can be tricky to achieve as the transmission is easily confused with the additional electric torque.
Like all Infiniti models, the Q70 Hybrid is subject to options packages rather than standalone upgrades. Standard specification is decent though, offering dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control (adaptive is optional), power adjustable heated leather seating and steering with memory, and a power sunroof. The Q70 Hybrid scores favorable safety ratings as an IIHS Top Safety Pick, thanks to optional extras such as forward collision warning, cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, 360 degree camera, and blind spot warning all as a part of the Premium Package of options.
With no plans to renew the Q70 Hybrid for 2018, it begs the question of whether Infiniti is planning a plug-in hybrid in future. This mild hybrid offers sporting dynamics, but ultimately feels dated – not exactly unexpected for essentially a 6 year old design.