Infiniti Q70 road trip
"I said on the trip that if I were spending my own money I’d buy the Infiniti over the 330e."
Take ten friends, two cars, 2,000 kilometres and a long bank holiday weekend and what do you get? An epic road trip, worthy of stories to be told years down the line? Drunken nights doing dangerous things?
Perhaps ten years ago, or five years for the younger ones among us…
But we’re grown-ups now and things have changed. Those of us who still drink don’t get drunk, and it’s more likely to be a glass of wine with dinner than a bottle of Lambrini at the park. We do the washing up. We make the beds. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the reliance on cars.
We’ve all been on this particular trip a few times. A Fiat Punto and a VW Polo from the first trip were upgraded to a Renault Laguna and a Golf GTi for the second. Granted, we were all smaller back then, so the compact hatchbacks didn’t seem quite as small, but they just don’t compare to what we were equipped with this time: an Infiniti Q70 2.2d and a BMW 330e, two very capable mile crunchers and similarly priced as well.
I won’t dwell too long on the BMW. It’s a very nice car and suits the needs of its owner well – the combination of the performance it delivers along with the environmentally friendly plug-in hybrid aspect of it make it ideal for him, not to mention the fantastic M sport package it has. I will of course focus on the Q70 – it makes a lot of sense to make some comparisons, but I’m not here to review the two.
With the 2.2 litre diesel engine in the Infiniti, we were worried that four days of driving in France would become a problem, with warnings of a fuel ‘crisis’ in France as everyone was on strike. The plug-in option of the BMW looked by far the safest option, but as it turns out our worries were unfounded, as with the large tank capacity we still had half a tank in the Q70 by the time we got back to England, despite hauling 5 people around at all times and with a well-utilised boot.
Let’s talk about that boot.
I overpack, I’ll admit it. What with the emergency kit, breakdown kit, French driving kit (required by law), snow shovel, spare shoes, spare waterproofs for passengers in event of an accident, spare bottles of water, screen wash, emergency diesel, spare towels, and chocolate bars in case of emergency, you’d imagine we would have been pushed for space, and that’s just what occupies my boot most of the time. Added to this was a large coolbox for the beach picnics, beach towels, a whole stack of board games and their huge boxes. It was a struggle to get five people’s luggage in on top of all of that, but miraculously, it all fitted.
The Q70’s boot is absolutely cavernous. Perhaps it might look about the same size as the boot on the 330e, but the BMW has a battery where the Q70’s spare wheel would be, which reduces space inside the boot. The BMW is also a smaller car, so the fact that three suitcases could stand up in the boot of the Q70 made the world of difference. No one had to have their bags on their laps, no one had to have anything in the footwells, and I didn’t have my view obstructed by things on the rear shelf. It was as comfortable as it could be.
Although with three tall guys, how comfortable can they be in the back of a car, squashed in there together? Another surprise – quite comfortable. Okay, so it worked out better when we had one of the smaller people of the group swap into the middle seat in our car from the BMW, but for some of the longest journeys we had three guys dozing in the back of the car.
There are two things I’ve not commented on yet: the traditional selling points of cars – the performance and the sound system. Speak to me ten years ago and the first thing I would have asked was how fast it could go.
Well here’s the answer – 110km/h on the motorways, 50km/h in town. Yes, it can go much faster, and at times the power of the car was put to good use, but with four friends inside and another car to keep in convoy with, it never even crossed either of our minds to drive any faster than the legal limit, despite it being lower than what we’re used to in the UK.
So why haven’t I focussed on the performance? I know from driving this beast for the past few months that it’s more than capable of competing with its peers, especially using paddle shift gear changes in Sport mode, so surely that’s a great thing to talk about? No, this is a taste thing, and I didn’t want performance for this trip. I wanted comfort, a bit more refinement and class. Give me ventilated, air-conditioned seats over acceleration. Give me lumbar support, memory seats, welcome lighting and intelligent cruise control over horse power.
Everyone’s tastes were quite aligned when it came to the sound system. Yes, I’m a lucky so and so, I had the Bose Premium Sound System in my car because I was driving a Sport Tech. Everyone remarked on the speakers embedded into the front seats at ear level for surround sound and the fantastic sound quality, and as if Infiniti anticipated this very trip, the car has double-glazing front and back as standard for a whisper-quiet journey.
I may write like a retiree, but believe it or not I’m a spritely 28 years old, not exactly the poster-child for youthful abandon, but at the same time we kept active on our trip. We hit the beach and had a barbecue, drove to more beaches and harbours, had dinner in town, and so on, but gone are the days of spending eight hours twisted sideways with suitcases on our laps, of shouting above the engine/road/wind noise, and of caring more about the speed and handling of the car than the comfort of our passengers.
I said on the trip that if I were spending my own money I’d buy the Infiniti over the 330e. Both are similarly priced in cash but the Infiniti is by far the cheaper of the two on finance. Not everyone would go with my choice – that taste thing again – but all of my passengers would wholeheartedly agree. This is a new generation of driver, and we want different things from our cars, without making any compromises. It’s lucky Infiniti is on hand to cater for our ever-growing list of demands.
- Scott Penn
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