Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover review – Can Sporty SUV Keep Up With Rivals?

Infiniti QX70?

Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review-9992

Known formerly as the Infiniti FX, the original Infiniti QX started life out in 2003 and offered some advanced systems, even being the the first passenger vehicle to offer a lane departure warning system in the United States market. Being primarily aimed at the U.S. market, they were offered with powerful V6 and V8 engines, had capable handling and surprising performance to match.

2008 saw the Infiniti available in Europe, alongside with a major redesign to give a more aggressive and modern look to the car. 2010 saw Europe gain a V6 diesel version, whilst in 2012 Infiniti gave the QX another slight facelift to make it even more modern, aggressive, and sporty. With plenty of competition to battle against, what makes this Crossover SUV stand out from its rivals? We were sent the Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D to find out just that…

Exterior. Butt ugly or beauty?

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The QX70 is indeed a striking-looking vehicle, and while I wouldn’t describe it as beautiful, there’s certainly a muscular handsomeness about it. The huge chrome front grille and badging leave you in doubt as to the marque of the car, and actually the entire front end is relatively uncluttered. The narrow cat-like headlights stare aggressively, while below the chrome-edged fog lamps give the distinct impression of fangs.

The wings protrude high before cascading back down onto the bonnet impressing further the hunkered sportiness of the Infiniti. From a side profile, the QX70 looks like it’ll be slippery through the wind, and again it’s a clean design, with no swage line cutting into the doors or wings, and even the gently-protruding wheel arches are almost flush with the rest of the body.

The sizeable air vents behind the front arches only emphasise the QX70's sporting edge - Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

Walk past in the right light, and the eye naturally takes in body as it flows gracefully from the jutting wings, over up the raked windscreen, light catching the chrome trim around the side windows, taking in the discreet satin roof rails and roof spoiler, before observing the large 21-inch alloy wheels.  The only interjection are the sizeable air vents behind the front arches, but these only emphasise the QX70’s sporting edge.

Around to the wide rear, and it continues to grab attention with similar assertive LED light clusters to the front, and two huge exhausts poking out, the QX70 making sure that its “I mean business” message comes across clearly.

Rear 3/4 of the Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

Viewed on its own, the Infiniti QX70’s size can be deceptive, as its car-like aesthetics trick you into believing it’s not that big. However, park it next to the average mid-size Euro saloon and you quickly notice its bulk.

It’s not a high car vertically, and it’s no longer than your average large SUV. Instead, it’s actually the width of the QX70 which is most obvious. As Infiniti’s traditional stomping ground it the U.S., where parking spaces and road lanes are huge, it perhaps fits in easier, but on our small UK roads the QX70’s width is plainly obvious. I parked it an inch from the kerb by the side of the road, and it was still outside the parking lines by a full tyre-width.

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Drive up behind a compact hatch, and you can see the driver do a double-take as the QX70 fills not just their rear-view mirrors, but the sides as well. Wide-boy, would be a good term to describe it actually. Because of its unique styling and sheer width, the Infiniti QX70 grabbed attention wherever we parked it, and what we did notice was that people driving other luxury SUVs – Range Rovers mainly – were particularly interested in its looks, one even stopping in the middle of the road to take in its curves, before crawling past to get a good front-to-rear viewing.

On looks then, the QX70 is appealing. There’s nothing that really looks like it on the road, and if there’s one thing that these are going to get sold on, I think it’s the rather cool exterior design.

Interior. Neat or nothing special?

Driver's seat and controls. - Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

If you’re an American manufacturer bringing luxury cars over to Europe, you’ll better make damn sure that the interiors on them come up to par with Euro expectations. It’s a fact to say that up until very recently, the majority of US luxury car manufacturers offered their vehicles with interiors that simply didn’t match the competition from Germany or the UK in terms of quality or class.

Weigh the cabin of, say, a 2010 Cadillac Escalade or Lincoln Navigator up against one from a Range Rover, BMW X5, or Audi Q7 of the same age, and there’s simply no comparison. The Navigator and Escalade: Lacklustre cabin design? Tick. Tacky and cheap-looking switchgear? Tick. However, there are some positives for those Yank tanks: they know how to do comfortable very well indeed, and as standard they’re fitted with an excellent level of interior goodies.

So, what we’re saying is that Infiniti had their work cut out big time if they’re to fight it out in an arena full of the home team who know what the masses like and want. Have they fulfilled that? Let’s have a look.

The quilted front leather seats are soft yet supportive and comfortable. - Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

Actually, let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The press blurb for the QX70 states the car offers ‘superb all-round visibility’. Well yes, but not for the driver. The reason being that the wing mirrors are absolutely massive and those, alongside thick A-pillars, mean vision of the vital areas of road when coming up to roundabouts (something the US doesn’t have many of) is spectacularly bad. I jest not, whole cars and most definitely motorcycles completely disappeared behind them. This issue was no less apparent by the end of a weeks testing either.

In some areas, the QX70 seemed rather behind the times too. For example, most luxury crossovers (and indeed cheaper ones) now offer a panoramic glass roof, but the QX70 has no option for that. There’s no DAB radio,  no daytime running lights on the exterior, the satellite navigation graphics struck me as being outdated, and the self-park feature is ridiculously over-complex – more on that in the drive section – and finally the boot area is notably small at just 410 litres – rather less, in fact, than the much shorter and narrower Range Rover Evoque‘s.

 The boot area is notably small at just 410 litres - Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review-9880

Okay, so that’s the negative points out of the way about the cabin. Now for the (mainly) positive stuff. The interior fit and finish overall is very good, and Infiniti have clearly put some thought into that side of things before launching it across the pond to us. Slip into either of the quilted front leather seats and you’ll find them soft yet supportive and comfortable, especially the driver’s side which has electrically-adjustable thigh and backrest bolsters, allowing you to either clamp yourself firmly in for that winding section of tarmac, or relax them fully for cruising. Generously, they’re also heated and cooled as standard too.

The rear seats are also pleasant, and their backrests can be reclined nicely for those longer trips. The plastic trim on the dash and doors is good quality, and it was clearly well put together. My only real gripe with the cabin design are that the large swathes of grey and black are a little much and added up to making it look slightly unrelieved, even with the interjections of the black lacquered and aluminium pieces.

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I found the centre console to be overly-heavy with controller buttons, switches, and knobs. Simple is better, and much like the Volvo centre console there are just too many, which can be distracting whilst driving. There are silly things that could be improved on too. Why, for instance, can you press the touchscreen, use scroller wheel in front of it, the directional buttons on the scroller wheel, plus the steering wheel mounted controls, all to do the same thing in scrolling through the touchscreen menus and sat-nav directions? Bizarre, and unnecessary surely.

Actually, I though the high-mounted controls on the centre console were a great idea as they’re easy to get at and large enough to see what you want easily – it’s just the rest below those that need de-cluttering. The driver’s instrument dials aren’t anything exciting, but they’re simply laid-out and easy to read. A positive are the large buttons either side of the binnacle, which allow you to scroll through the display between the dials, as well as adjust the brightness. Too often, you’re scrabbling for these on cars as they’re hidden away or awkward to get to, so well done Infiniti for doing it right.

Another plus: the power tailgate can be open and closed from inside the car. It really bugs me when cars are fitted with these, but they can only be closed from the button on the boot. Defeats the point of having it to a large extent, and I don’t understand why they do it like this. Kudos again to Infiniti for their practical thinking.

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Infiniti like to push the point that they pay attention to the finer details: millimetre-precise gaps between interior components, cabin lights that get brighter the closer to the car you get, a ‘heartbeat’ pulsing start/stop button. This may be the case, but I honestly believe they need to look more at the bigger picture too, for there are several components that need updating: the sat nav graphics, no TFT display between the dials, the bad vision where the A-pillars are, the antiquated and over-complex self-park system, the bland dials, and the slightly characterless interior design.

In summary, the QX70’s cabin is a comfortable and pleasant place to take a journey in, but compared with cars like the Volvo XC60, Range Rover Evoque, and even its America rival the Jeep Cherokee, the cabin is now lagging behind and needs modernising.

Engine and gearbox

The QX70 is offered with attractively powerful engines: one diesel and two petrol. Our tester came with the 3.0 V6 diesel, which has a single variable nozzle turbocharger, and puts out a whole lot of the all-important torque: 405 lb ft (550 Nm) at just 1,750 rpm to be exact. Power is rated as 235 hp at 3,750 rpm.

The Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D has a 3.0L V6 diesel, with a single variable nozzle turbocharger - Crossover 2014 review-0065

Performance figures are: – 0 62 mph: 8.3 seconds, and 132 mph at the top end. Official fuel (UK mpg) economy stats are: urban: 26.2, extra urban: 38.7, combined: 32.8, and 225 g/km CO2. A test over 110 motorway miles in light traffic showed an average of 31 mpg, whilst round-town averaged around 22 – 24 mph depending on traffic and my right foot.

The two petrol engines on offer are: a 3.7 litre V6, and a rather tasty 5.0 litre V8 with 385 bhp, 369 lb ft of torque, and a blistering zero to sixty-two mph run of 5.8 seconds. This is the version most suited to the QX70, and the one we’d choose.

All three engines get Intelligent All-Wheel-Drive and the same 7-speed auto transmission, which is electronically controlled to learn driving styles, and includes magnesium paddle shifters for a more involved drive.

Ready to roll? Let’s drive!

Driving the Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

From the outset, Infiniti make it clear that their QX70 is designed with performance and handling prowess in mind. Thanks to its V6 engine pushed as far back to the bulkhead as possible, the weight distribution is surprisingly good at 53% front, 47% rear, providing a well-balanced drive.  There’s also Intelligent All-Wheel Drive added into the mix, with 100% of the power going to the rear wheels normally, and up to 50% pushed to the fronts should slippage occur.

The suspension is fully independent with the  added benefit of Continuous Damping Control (CDC) and electric motor-driven Rear Active Steering (RAS) – which turns the rear wheel up to 1 degree – on the S and S Premium models. I had the chance to push the QX70S hard around the Hill Route (or Alpine Route) of the world-famous Millbrook Proving Grounds. This comprises of fast, winding roads with steep up and downhill sections and severe switchbacks that’ll test the limits of suspension and grip to the maximum.

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It’s a rather strange experience being able to chuck such a large Crossover around Millbrook’s Alpine Route, and feel it turning beautifully, firmly planted to the tarmac in an almost routed manner, and offering simply amazing grip and braking power, whilst providing oodles of torque from so low down in the rev range that firing it out of a low-speed bend and up a steep hill is sheer enjoyment  – and all from a car with a kerb weight of 2,175 kgs (4,795 lbs).

Back to normal driving, and the Infiniti QX70 S 3.0D eats up motorway miles superbly well, with its comfortable seating, low cabin noise, an unstressed engine, and CDC helping soak up high-speed bumps well. The Intelligent Cruise Control worked great and made journeys even easier and less stressed thanks to it doing all the necessary braking and slowing.

City driving is as easy thanks to the 7-speed automatic gearbox, but I noticed the suspension was firm, picking up on low-speed road imperfections that other SUVs and Crossovers would roll over adequately .

City driving is as easy thanks to the 7-speed automatic gearbox. - Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

In line with city driving, something I said I’d mention earlier, and that’s about the park assist system which requires a ridiculous amount more input than any other system I’ve used. The standard ones now work by you pressing a button, indicating which side you wish to park, driving slowly past a space until the system lets you know it’s large enough, before selecting reverse and controlling the braking until the car is parked. Easy. The Infiniti’s system was so frustrating, slow, over-involved and sensitive that in the end I gave up trying after around the sixth attempt of getting it to park the car.

The QX70S 3.0D accelerates well, offering a nice mix of power and torque throughout the rev range. Although gear changes are quick enough when using the paddle shifters, I did notice that when simply letting the auto ‘box do the work, under hard acceleration up-changes took too long, leaving you frustrated in waiting for it to switch up a gear. This was more noticeable when I was driving at town speeds, and then flooring up to the national speed limit.

All said, the Infiniti QX70 3.0d offers its driver a stimulating drive with genuinely impressive handling capabilities that seemingly defy its weight and size. Passengers will be set for a decent ride with comfortable seating and decent head and leg room. Personally, my choice would be to have the QX70 in range-topping 5.0 litre V8 guise, as the engine would suit this type of sporty Crossover perfectly, after all, that’s what you’re buying it for, right?

Price

(prices correct Oct ’14). The QX70 3.0d ranges from £42,370 for the GT version, to £48,920 for the S Premium model. The QX70 almost falls into its own category, as there’s very little like it on the market: large, sporty, good handling, small boot, AWD-equipped but no off-road ability. About as close a rival as it gets is the BMX X6 which starts at just over £51,000 for the XDrive30d SE, and goes to £67k for the xDrive50i M Sport.

Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D verdict & score

Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover 2014 review

I thought long and hard about my verdict of the QX70 3.0d, and struggled if I’m honest, for this Infiniti falls into so many categories that Crossover only begins to describe it. There are a fair few things that need improving if Infiniti want a fighting chance against European rivals: the driver’s vision around the A-pillars and wing mirror area is bad, there’s no panoramic roof, no running lights, the boot is small, the cabin somewhat lacklustre, there’s no DAB radio, the sat-nav graphics are outdated, the self-park system is ridiculously over-complex to use, the 7-speed gearbox a little sluggish, and really the QX70’s asking price isn’t that good either.

The positives are the QX70’s outstanding handling, great comfort level in the cabin, unusual but cool exterior design, and the fact you’ll be driving a car much rarer seen than all the other European marques on the road. Personally, I’d opt for the 5.0 litre V8 as it’ll suit the sporty handling prowess perfectly.

Do you own an Infiniti QX70 or FX? What are your views on it, and what are the best and worst points? Share your thoughts and leave a comment below!

Exterior  8
Interior  6
Engine  7
Gearbox  6
Price  5.5
Handling  8
Drive & Ride  6.5
Overall Score  6.5/10

 

Model (as tested)  2014 Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D
Spec includes  21″ alloy wheels, 6 airbags, Intelligent Cruise Control, Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Brake Assist, Lane Departure Warning & Prevention, Rear Active Steering, High Res Touchscreen with sat nav & Bluetooth, Bose 11-speaker sound system, electronic open/close tailgate, sunroof, dual-zone adaptive climate control. See website for more info
Options you should spec Either Java Flame or Wheat Leather interior option. Black too dull.
The Competition  BMW X6
Price  (Oct. ’14) £42,370 – £54,920. As tested: £48,920
Engine  Diesel, 3.0 litre, V6, single variable nozzle turbocharger
Power, Torque  Power: 235 hp @3,750 rpm | Torque: 405 lb ft (550 Nm) @ 1,750 rpm
Drive, Gears (as tested)  Intelligent All-Wheel Drive | 7-speed automatic
Ground clearance, Wading depth,  Towing Capacity  N/A
Top Speed, 0 – 60 mph, Euro NCAP  Max speed: 132 mph | 0 – 62 mph: 8.3 seconds | Euro NCAP rating: 5-stars (2009 model)
Fuel economy (UK mpg), CO2  Urban: 26.2, Extra urban: 38.7, Combined: 32.8, | CO2: 225 g/km
Weight (kerb)  2,175 kgs (4,795 lbs)
Websites  Infiniti UK, Infiniti USA, Infiniti worldwide

Words: Chris Davies | Tested by: Chris Davies | Photography: Chris Davies, Matthew Davies, Rollin’Photos

2 responses to “Infiniti QX70S Premium 3.0D Crossover review – Can Sporty SUV Keep Up With Rivals?”

  1. Layman

    Ahem – the writers comment about the sluggish gearbox is silly. I own a QX70 SP and what you have to understand is that the gearbox “learns” your driving style. If you potter around all day and then decide to floor it – you will get a sluggish up-change for a while until the gearbox adapts. Drive around like a hooligan and watch the system immediately give you quick up and downshifts. Alternatively, switch to sport or use the paddles or both.

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