Hybrids are not known for being quick or luxurious, but the 2014 Infiniti Q70 Hybrid is both of those things, as we recently found in a real-world test in Los Angeles.
Formerly Known as the M35 Hybrid
For 2014, all Infiniti models have new names, whether they are a carryover or all-new. The Q70 Hybrid is actually a renamed M35 Hybrid, the hybrid version of Infiniti's flagship sedan, and is competitive with other luxury hybrids such as the 2014 BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid and 2014 Lexus GS450h. Other than the new name, however, the Q60 Hybrid is unchanged from the 2013 Infiniti M35 Hybrid.
Beautiful, Inside and Out
Infiniti's swoopy styling looks particularly attractive on its midsize Q70 sedan, and stands in stark contrast to the stoic styling of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW midsize sedans. The Hybrid has no exterior features that give away its clean little secret, other than a discreet HYBRID badge on the tailgate.
Inside, the Q70 Hybrid offers up a dual-cockpit environment that looks especially beautiful with its unusual silver-powdered genuine white ash wood trim. The seats are divine, wrapping their occupants in standard, glove-soft leather. Even the outboard rear seats are beautifully sculpted and feel terrific.
The Q70's dashboard is among the most cluttered designs in the segment, but, as with most ergonomic situations, you can get used to it. Customers would be advised to get a thorough demonstration to learn what all the buttons and switches do, and how to use the voice-activated controls, which Infiniti is particularly good at. One especially nice touch is the breeze function of the climate control system, which cycles fan speeds to emulate natural breezes. Thankfully, it is subtle yet effective.
Luxury, a la Hybrid: Quicker and Quieter
With 360 net horsepower between the 3.5-liter V6 and 50-kW electric motor, the rear-wheel-drive Q70 Hybrid is quicker than the standard Q60 3.7, which gets by on V6 power alone. The hybrid also seems quieter, especially at low speeds when much of the driving is done in pure electric mode. For pedestrian safety's sake, the hybrid emits a sound to alert bipeds nearby of your approach when the gas engine isn't running.
Infiniti says that the Q70 Hybrid can travel 1.2 miles on electricity alone at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour if you're light on the pedals, though we were never able to go too far before the gas engine turned on, which it does with some shudder that takes away from the car's luxurious proclivities.
Honestly, we couldn't keep ourselves out of the power. There's a ton of it, and it renders the Q70 Hybrid quite fast. Unfortunately, the regenerative braking system is too aggressive and the pedal feel is unpredictable, making soft limo stops all but impossible. Steering, on the other hand, is terrific, and handling is surefooted and neutral.
Hardly a Prius -- and That's Just Fine
Fuel economy is rated at 27 miles per gallon city/32 mpg highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, though in our hands (in the stop-and-go capital of America) we only saw 25 mpg. (For reference, the base Q60 3.7's fuel economy is considerably lower, at 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy).
While those aren't exactly Prius numbers, the 2014 Infiniti Q70 Hybrid does what no Prius can: drive really well (other than those weird-feeling brakes), while giving a measurable boost to fuel economy. And it looks great and spoils its occupants in the process.