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Infiniti Q70 offers beauty and luxury, but performance?

Scott Sturgis, Auto Columnist

Updated: Saturday, October 21, 2017, 3:01 AM

The 2018 Infiniti Q70 might just be one of the most beautiful sedans on the road today.

2018 Infiniti Q70 5.6 AWD: Such a gorgeous sedan.

Price: For the 2017 model tested, $75,270 ($65,700 for the trim level; options included the $3,300 Technology Package and the $4,900 Sport Package, as well as $465 for illuminated kick plates).

Marketer’s pitch: “The art of luxury.”

Conventional wisdom: Consumer Reports really likes the Q70. “Good blend of luxury and sportiness for less than many competitors; elegant and comfortable interior; especially roomy backseat in the extended-wheelbase models; strong engine and braking performance,” but not that “controls can be cumbersome; some active safety gear is intrusive; trunk space is limited.”

Reality: Sometimes beauty is only skin deep.

What’s new: We tested a 2017 Q70, but the 2018 model receives just minor changes. The sedan was last face-lifted in 2015.

A long test: We took the Q70 across Pennsylvania, so I feel confident in my analysis.

Driver’s Seat: Make no mistake — the interior is a beautiful place to be. Lots of polished wood, leather, and soft chrome make for a pleasant cockpit.

Up to speed: The 5.6-liter V-8 engine produces 420 horsepower, an impressive number for any sedan, but par for the course these days. What differentiates the good from the great is how they harness those horses.

The Q70, though, lacks the refinement to make all the zoom effective. The suspension doesn’t stand up to the power, so it feels fairly uncontrolled while zipping 0 to 60 open throttle (which it does in 4.9 seconds, according to a Motor Trend review of a 2015 model).

Shifty: Another drawback to the sedan is the 7-speed automatic transmission. A hesitation from standing start and some confused shifting makes the Q70 less smooth than its counterparts.

The shiftability also leaves a bit to be desired, as the force required to move the lever is pretty sizable, and the arm position a little awkward.

On the road: A complaint I’ve often had with Infinitis and Nissans — the handling can be a little quirky. The vehicle’s speed-sensitive steering may just take some getting used to, but again, we bonded over close to 1,000 miles.

The Infiniti Drive Mode Selector offers a range of settings. Sport was a little rough on highways, while normal had a lot of roll on turns.

Friends and stuff: From his first ride in the passenger’s seat, Sturgis Kid 4.0 quickly noticed the large armrest, so large it’s kind of in the way.

While both “leather-appointed 10-way power climate controlled front seats including power lumbar support” seats can move up higher, 6-foot-1 (when tested, taller now) 4.0 can’t squeeze his head at a certain point, and I found sitting high enough to be comfortable with the armrest meant my feet were awkward at the pedals.

The seat is not uncomfortable but is a bit on the firm side. The test vehicle, though, had just over 1,000 miles total when starting, so it may just need some breaking in.

Young 4.0 is also whiny beyond his years (how proud I am) and noticed from his perch in the rear seat a rear armrest quirk. Riders can use the armrest or use the cupholders, but not at the same time.

Rear legroom and headroom are great, even better than the Volvo S90. Being all-wheel drive, the hump is fairly severe, and really squared off. Spring for the Q70L and even more legroom comes along for the ride.

Night shift: The LED headlights illuminated the road nicely, although the cutoff was a little steep at the top, so distance vision was a little hard on low beam.

Play some tunes: The Infiniti Q70 has a fairly old-fashioned interface, with a bevy of buttons. It’s easy enough to use, but the sedan was lacking in ports for phone charging, unforgivable at this level.

Sound was just slightly under par.

Steady as she goes: Here’s something I’ve noticed in some other Nissans and Infinitis, but the Q70 offered the most striking example: The cruise control really sped up and slowed down while climbing hills, almost giving me motion sickness.

This could be an issue specific to this unit — or even to my specific brain — but it’s worth testing out if you’re a cruise-control addict like myself.

Fuel economy: I averaged just above 20 mpg in a long haul across Pennsylvania at Turnpike speeds. Feed it premium.

Where it’s built: Tochigi, Japan.

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the Q70’s reliability will be 5 out of 5.

In the end: Obviously, the Infiniti Q70 has a lot to recommend it. I’d like to — mainly because it’s really beautiful and I’d like to have the money to afford it — but can’t offer that recommendation.

Scott Sturgis, Auto Columnist

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