Infiniti Q70L 2.5

Infiniti broadens the appeal of its 5-series rival with a long-wheelbase model

INFINITI’S Q50 COMPACT saloon is the brand’s vanguard model during its nomenclature rebirth (‘Q’ prefixes for saloons, coupés and cabrios, ‘QX’ for SUVs), and by default it’s the only one that immediately backs up its new badge with engineering changes. So the BMW 5-series, Mercedes E-class and Jaguar XF-rivalling M-series saloon won’t change a jot when it starts being called the Q70.

However, Nissan’s business plan calls for Infiniti to become a leader among luxury brands by 2016, so without a large luxury saloon in the line-up, it’s possible that the UK will benefit from a long-wheelbase Q70 in the medium term. To that end, we’ve sampled the Q70L, which benefits from an extra 150mm in the wheelbase. For the moment, though, it’s a China-only model.

We’ve previously found the M saloon frustrating not for its lack of ability but for its marginal failings in the face of its supremely competent and well established European rivals; generous equipment and winning refinement haven’t been enough to make the M more than an interesting left-field alternative thus far. One such concession to the class stalwarts is space, in that the standard-wheelbase car’s rear cabin only adequately accommodates two adults. The boot is relatively small, too, especially in the M35h hybrid with its additional concessions to battery storage.

The Q70L’s extension is all in the wheelbase, so while the boot is still stingy, rear legroom is more than generous, allowing a 6ft 2in passenger to sit comfortably behind a driver of the same height. The car’s massaged bodywork accommodates the extension nicely, too; there’s a hint of Porsche Panamera about the lengthened silhouette. But while the Q70L’s swooping roofline may aid aesthetics, rear headroom is tight – a particular sin in a large executive saloon with limousine pretensions.

This car’s 2.5-litre engine (not available in any UK Nissan or Infiniti) shares its architecture with the 316bhp 3.7-litre V6 in the current M37, with 24 valves that benefit from variable timing and lift. There’s not much action to be had under 4000rpm, and the car’s peaky 232bhp is accentuated by a kerb weight in excess of 1800kg. The engine is also quite vocal and thirsty, if smooth.

Like UK M-series cars, the Q70L has a seven-speed automatic gearbox, but no wheel-mounted paddles. But these are winning assets in the car’s home market, and judging them by more familiar wants would be unfair.

Offered in unison with the UK-spec Infiniti M’s impressive handling package and respectable drivetrains, the extra space offered by a Q70L, offered at a gentle premium, would help redress the current car’s marginal subservience in our market.

INFINITI Q70L 2.5

Price na

0-62mph 9.2sec (est)

Top speed 143mph

Economy 28.3mpg (combined)

CO2 239g/km

Kerb weight 1810kg

Engine V6, 2495cc, petrol

Power 232bhp at 6400rpm

Torque 187lb ft at 4800rpm

Gearbox 7-spd automatic

FIRST VERDICT

Extra cabin space gives competent saloon a much-needed boost

SO GOOD

— Generous rear legroom

— Retains aesthetic balance

— Brakes

NO GOOD

— Tight rear headroom

— Doughy dynamic tuning

— Peaky power curve

TESTER’S NOTE

Active seatbelts limit body motion and reduce drama during emergency braking.

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