“SoHo is an ideal locale for the launch of a flagship vehicle from a premium automaker that aspires to many of the same ideals as those driving the district’s renaissance…”

By Rob Rothwell

New York, NY.

Avant garde, the SoHo District of New York City on the densely populated island of Manhattan is home to a culture of creativity, artistry, and some of the best high-end shopping in the world. SoHo is an ideal locale for the launch of a flagship vehicle from a premium automaker that aspires to many of the same ideals as those driving the district’s renaissance.

Infiniti’s flagship Q70 sedan has undergone re-engineering to improve refinement and road characteristics while also exhibiting a striking design refortified end to end. Perhaps most noteworthy for 2015 is the availability of a segment-exclusive long wheelbase version denoted by an “L” affixed to the Q70’s badging.

With an additional 150 mm of stretch inserted into its rear seating area, the Q70L’s leather-lined cabin supplies limo-like legroom to its rear-seat luminary, and is the only sedan within its segment to offer expanded real estate. While a CEO may feel at home in the rear quarters of the Q70L, family buyers are bound to enjoy the stretch as well, which eases the burden of inserting kids into car seats.

Despite benefits of a lengthened cabin, the standard Q70 is expected to lead sales. And based on my day of driving both examples through the lush beauty of historic New Jersey, it was the regular-length car that delivered a perfect balance between sportiness and luxury.

And aghast I should say this, but the V6 engine in the Q70 Sport was my power plant of preference unless finding myself in the passing lane with tarmac running short. Left of the centre-line is where eight cylinders effortlessly outmatches six. Otherwise, the V6 is an exceptionally refined power plant, which pierced the bubble of contempt I harbour for V6 engines of less polish.

Displacing 3.7 litres, the DOHC V6 engine develops 330 horsepower and 270 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s rated under the government’s revised standards at 13.2L/100km city and 9.6L/100km highway. Infiniti’s liquid-smooth 5.6L V8 engine jacks performance considerably with the production of 416 horsepower and 414 lb.-ft. of torque, however, economy slips to 15L/100km city and 10.2L/100km highway.

Both engines are mated to Infiniti’s seven-speed automatic transmission combined with all-wheel-drive (AWD), which is a Canada-only conformity. I’m a proponent of AWD, so this limitation gets traction with me.

Final in the power triad is a hybrid arrangement utilizing a 3.5L V6 engine combined with a 50 kW electric motor. Total available output is pegged at 360 horsepower – directed exclusively to the rear wheels. I didn’t have an opportunity to drive the Q70 Hybrid, which is rated at a thrifty 8.0L/100km city and 6.9L/100km highway.

Beautifully stitched leather and genuine Japanese Ash appliques greet the senses as one settles into the Q70’s driver’s seat. From the days of the storied Q45 sedan introduced in 1990 to today’s Q70 flagship, Infiniti cabins have always been top contenders in both quality and engineering.

Infiniti emphasizes user-friendliness in the functionality of its technology and the layout of controls and switchgear, and such is the case in the new Q70. Yet there’s more tech here than ever before, and it’s largely designed to prevent collisions and protect occupants. Infiniti’s Safety Shield is the constellation of these programs. Highlighted among them is predictive forward collision warning paired with intelligent brake assist.

With a few quick seat and mirror adjustments, I was hurled into the thick of Manhattan traffic headed to the Holland Tunnel, which carries vehicles under the Hudson River on which Captain ‘Sully” Sullenberger safely landed his Airbus A320 after losing both engines due to multiple bird strikes. Far less stressful for me was the challenge of coping with Manhattan’s congested roads, which was made remarkably manageable by the Q70’s quiet cabin and its ability to blunt the incessant horn honking that is NYC.

Main takeaways from our New Jersey jaunt and return to New York via Bear Mountain State Park focus on the Q70’s underpinnings. The retuned suspension exploits the sweet spot between comfort and handling characteristics without generating suspension noise. In fact, the entire chassis feels unified and composed while delivering lively, engaging handling dynamics. Particularly worthy of praise is the Q70’s retuned steering, which delivers bright, clear messaging from street level.

The 2015 Infiniti Q70 and Q70L truly deserve the Big Apple’s spotlight. Though pricing has yet to be finalized for the Canadian market, expect it to be highly competitive, especially when Infiniti’s Safety Shield technology and the use of all-wheel-drive are factored into the mix.

**********

Specs

Format: 4-door luxury sports sedan equipped with AWD, available in short and long wheelbase configurations

Engine Q70: 3.7L DOHC V6, 330 hp. 270 lb.-ft. torque

Engine Q70L: 5.6L DOHC V8, 416 hp. 414 lb.-ft. torque

Engine Hybrid: 3.5L DOHC V6 with 50 kW electric motor, combined 360 hp.

Fuel Economy Q70: 13.2L/100km city / 9.6L/100km highway

Fuel Economy Q70L: 15L/100km city / 10.2L/100km highway

Fuel Economy Hybrid: 8.0L/100km city / 6.9L/100km highway

Pricing: TBA

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