It's hard to make a sensible case for Infiniti's QX70 but it's a large, luxury 4x4 that most would love to own. Jonathan Crouch checks it out
Ten Second Review
Infiniti's QX70 is the model that must represent the brand in the large luxury SUV category, with the 3.7-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel versions taking on BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class sector rivals. Plus there's the larger-engined 5.0-litre petrol V8 to deal with super-luxury 4x4s like Porsche's Cayenne or the iconic Range Rover. You'd certainly like one - but like one enough to choose this unusual brand over more established rivals? Let's find out.
There's something refreshingly honest about large, luxury SUVs, especially if they're petrol-powered. No eco-friendly pretences, this is perhaps the ultimate expression of in-your-face I-don't-care consumer choice. The green lobby may howl with protest at cars like the Range Rover, Porsche's Cayenne or this one, Infiniti's QX70, but you can bet that deep down inside, like the rest of us, they'd really rather like one. If you're shopping for a car of this kind with upwards of £45,000 to spend, there are two real groups in the playground. The first offers you large, plush and in many cases really rather dynamic SUVs, models like BMW's X5 and X6, Audi's Q7 and Mercedes M-Class - maybe even a Range Rover Sport. Most of these sit in the £45,000 to £55,000 sector and are tackled by the V6 petrol and diesel Infiniti QX70 models we're looking at here. But this new Japanese brand also wants a slice of super-luxury SUV sales where more exclusive cars like Porsche's Cayenne and the Range Rover mop up buyers with well over £60,000 to spend. For these people, Infiniti's even more powerful V8 QX70 5.0-litre petrol model is designed to fit the bill.
An intelligent all-wheel-drive system, which distributes torque automatically to the wheels where it can be put to the best use, is a standard part of QX70 ownership but Infiniti restricts its clever active rear wheel steering to the QX70 3.0 diesel and the top QX70 5.0-litre petrol V8 model, which needs it to adequately direct all of its 385 braked horses onto the tarmac. This system turns the back wheels slightly when you turn those at the front to improve manoeuvrability at low speeds and stability on the open road. For most though, the 316bhp V6 QX70 we tried, also petrol-powered, will be quite sufficient, getting to sixty from rest in 6.8s, just a second slower than its V8 stablemate, on the way up to its 145mph limit. In fact, with less weight to carry around and careful use of light aluminium and plastic body panels, it actually feels a fair bit sportier, with better cornering turn-in than you'd expect from a vehicle of this size and weight, particularly if you go for the sporty S model with its standard CDC Continuous Damping Control. CDC can be left in automatic, for optimal ride and handling at all times, or switched to Sport mode where it stiffens up the suspension to reduce bodyroll in the unlikely event that you want to throw the thing around a bit. Both petrol engines have the kind of prodigious pulling power you might expect - 360Nm in the QX70 3.7 and a thumping 500Nm in the QX70 5.0-litre. Tasked with marshalling all of this is a standard fit seven-speed automatic gearbox, with lovely steering wheel paddle shifters fashioned from pure magnesium. You'll search in vain for any evidence of off road capability - a low range gearbox, hill descent control and the like. Infiniti describes this car as a 'crossover', a broadbrush term usually applied to SUVs with almost no mud-plugging ability whatsoever. Few potential buyers will be unduly concerned.
Design and Build
With its elongated shape and small glass area, the QX70 has the look of a coupe on stilts rather than a conventional large 4x4. There are obvious similarities in the basic styling approach to the BMW X6 but the detailing is very different, with the FX displaying curves and bulges in place of the BMW's sharp, angular lines. The long bonnet, steeply raked windscreen and vents behind the front wheel arches contribute to the sporty appearance. In the metal though, the car's sheer size means it still has the imposing presence of a 4x4. Luggage space is adequate for this size of vehicle - 410-litres with the rear seats in place and 1305-litres with them folded. Where potential buyers will really want to be reminded of how much money they've spent is inside. Sure enough, pull one of the lovely satin finish door handles and you'll enter a cabin that's beautifully built and looks very classy with touches like its oval analogue clock, though the use of some Nissan switchgear and a proliferation of buttons are amongst the reasons why it can't quite match the priciest offerings in this sector. You can access many of the functions through standard-fit switches on a steering wheel that moves with the instruments, combining with the multi-adjustable leather seats to help you get really comfortable.
Market and Model
List prices suggest that you'll be paying somewhere in the £45,000-£48,000 bracket for the V6 FX37 model, which is slightly pricier than the QX70 diesel, with a premium of around £2,000 for the more dynamically-styled S version. If you want the V8 QX70 model that, apparently, Russian billionaires are particularly fond of, then you'll need just under £55,000. About the same as you'd pay for a Porsche Cayenne GTS that's nearly half a second slower to sixty and much less than a comparable Range Rover. The asking prices aren't cheap of course - but then, neither are those of this car's direct rivals. And with them, the kind of complete specification list that Infiniti throws in as standard will probably cost you a lot extra. On all QX70 models, customers receive Bi-Xenon adaptive headlights that turn with the steering wheel, full leather trim, heated and cooled front seats with electric adjustment, cruise control, an electric sunroof, a 2Gb music jukebox, a rear view camera and cruise control. In addition, QX70 3.7S buyers get huge 21" alloy wheels, sports seats and the CDC active damping system. Go for the Premium upgrade and there's Intelligent Cruise Control which can maintain a set distance to the car in front and Intelligent Brake Assist which can warn of a potential collision and brake the car if necessary. At this level, there's also the Connectiviti+ package which combines a DVD player, satellite navigation, a 10Gb music jukebox and a Bose premium stereo with 11 speakers.
Cost of Ownership
Fuel economy and emissions are about what you'd expect from big petrol engines in big four-wheel-drives. The QX70 3.7 returns 23.4mpg on the combined cycle and emits 285g/km but it is Euro V compliant. Owners, in other words, may need to make their contributions to saving the planet elsewhere. The diesel manages 32.8mpg and 225g/km. Infiniti build quality surveys in the States (where the brand has been on sale over twenty years) suggest that nothing is likely to go wrong. In the unlikely event that it does, the importers have created something called 'Total Ownership Experience', intended to guarantee that you'll be treated like royalty, whatever the age of your car. That in turn should help residuals.
We can see where Infiniti is going with this car. The QX70 model challenges large, plush German prestige SUVs that emphasise a sporting demeanour in a class of car that to be honest, really isn't very sporting at all. This Infiniti also prioritises everyday luxury and long distance comfort, even if you go for the more dynamic-looking S model. In the end, as always with Infiniti, a lot will come down to whether buyers will be prepared to try something different. If so, this is a car you could be very comfortable with.