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2016 Infiniti Q70 5.6

Capable, aggressive, and rather elegant on the road.

It’s before dawn as I make my way up the coast, headed for the canyons. I’ve wanted to drive Malibu’s winding valley roads for as long as I’ve had a driver’s license, and thanks to the early hour the notorious Los Angeles traffic has yet to clog my path. I leave the Pacific Coast Highway and pull onto Topanga Canyon Boulevard, the skies warming with the early glow of sunrise. Behind the wheel of a stealthy Graphite Shadow Infiniti Q70 5.6, I’ve got the windows down and the stereo off. Awash in cool ocean breeze, all I can hear is the chirping of birds and the low rumble of this Infiniti’s 5.6L V8.

The Q70 is Infiniti’s largest sedan, comfortably seating four in a luxurious cabin. From heavy traffic to wide open highways and precarious canyons twists, the Q70 is a capable all-rounder, offering comfort and a wide array of technology. Then, at a moment’s notice, it’s capable of savagely delivering 420 horsepower accompanied by an engine note that satisfyingly echoes through the canyon walls in its wake.

Fitted with Infiniti’s Drive Mode Selector, you can have the Q70 set for Snow, Eco, Standard, or Sport. I generally switched between Eco and Sport, with the former well suited for relaxed cruising, and the latter helping me make the most of the empty road. In Eco mode, the Q70 is almost lazy, a heavyweight with nothing to prove. The transmission and throttle are at their most laid-back, with a small light in the gauge cluster changing from green to amber to signal the exchange of minimal throttle input in for maximum gas mileage.

In Sport mode, the Q70 takes on an entirely different character, the throttle becoming aggressive and the transmission holding a gear, allowing for the enjoyment of the noise that accompanies the V8’s sprint towards its 6750 RPM redline. For the best experience, put the Q70 in Sport and move the gear stalk to the left, engaging manual shift mode. The Q70’s seven-speed automatic boasts automatic downshift rev matching, so upon approaching a corner and pulling the lever to drop a gear, the engine receives a kick of throttle to ease the transition. The byproduct is a wondrously addictive shout from the engine as the next gear comes into play.

A large sedan with the soul of a grand tourer, the Q70 felt so happy in the canyons, delightfully eager to make some noise and have a little fun.

My Q70 was fitted with the Premium Select Edition package which, among a handful of aesthetic elevations like dark chrome exterior trim and 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels, also included upgraded sport brakes. While the general ride quality is likely smoother with the standard 18-inch wheels, it’s hard to deny the visual effect of the 20s, which are an eye catching match for the lovely curves and the athletic proportions of the Q70. With a wider track and longer wheelbase than its Q50 sibling, the Q70 manages to look capable, aggressive, and rather elegant on the road.

The cabin is a mix of plastics and leather that offers excellent ergonomics via a wide array of traditional buttons and a large eight-inch touchscreen display. Tech on this loaded tested included everything from navigation with traffic updates to Infiniti’s Around View Monitor, a four camera vehicle surroundings system that gives you a virtual 360-degree view of your surroundings when parking. While the tech options may have lacked the polish found in some of the German competition, the Q70’s impressive list of features was fully functional and through a week of driving around Los Angeles, I never got lost, lacked entertainment, or had any trouble fitting this large sedan into any available space.

Despite its size and 4039 pounds curb weight, the Q70 5.6 managed a sub five second sprint to 60 mph as I pushed deeper into the mountains of Malibu. Even on 245 section all-season tires, this powerful rear-wheel drive sedan was eager to hustle and its sport-tuned suspension proved more than happy to carve away a morning on some windy California back roads. With that V8’s howl ringing in my ears, I roared across the legendary Mulholland Highway, finally turning onto Latigo Canyon Road. This thin ribbon of a complex two lane roadway was where the Q70 really showed its fun side. Tight second and third gear driving provided a wonderful stage for the 5.6L’s 417 lb-ft of torque and plenty of opportunities to use the grin-inducing downshift rev-matching.

A large sedan with the soul of a grand tourer, the Q70 felt so happy in the canyons, delightfully eager to make some noise and have a little fun. Before long I had run out of road and was facing early morning commuter traffic back to Venice. With the windows up, seat cooling on, and Father John Misty’s “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” streaming its way to the Q70’s lovely 10-speaker Bose stereo, I rolled back down the coast in comfort—my heart rate slowly recovering from roads I won’t soon forget. For a sporty sedan like the Q70, flexibility is crucial and this big Infiniti manages a compelling mix of power and noise, comfort and poise.