Infiniti teaches Grandma to suck eggs

How Infiniti is teaching the old guard the meaning of premium


Premium is defined as “a sum above a nominal or par value of a thing”. Back in the day, it meant something. Today the term is the most bastardised concept since new fangled “Kopitiams” (yes, I like my coffee in a cracked and slightly stained porcelain cup). From Guangzhou to Gua Musang, every company seems to be frothing at the mouth telling us how their products are “premium”. And with the plethora of media available to assault your senses, that’s not hard to do. Strategic taglines, website experiences, glossy spreads, clever videos…the list is legion. And most of the time, we buy it.

But like a Bangkok ladyboy, when you’re inauthentic, you will eventually get found out. Most established luxury car makers spend millions telling you how they are premium but do very little in the way of actually treating you as such (A fancy cappuccino machine does not a premium experience make). Walk into any luxury car showroom in KL and you’ll know what I mean. They are big on show but peel the exterior layer of the Bauhaus architecture and you’ll find a very ordinary experience. Very few of them actually make the effort or take the time to make you feel truly “premium”.


That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by Infiniti when they launched their new Q70 recently. While car companies try very hard to make a big impression at their launches, Infiniti seems to have really upped the ante. Not for them the standard luxury menu of any of the run-of-the mill five-star hotel in KL.

_DSC7096_editedInfiniti had a specialist chef design a bespoke menu that was created to represent the Q70 and its attributes. Each course was paired and presented with the utmost subtlety and the chef even explained the “why” of each dish and how that mirrored Infiniti. As this is not a food blog, I will not go into the details of that rather sublime meal except to say – it was good.

Before you think that I sold my soul for a piece of salmon, the reason I walked away impressed was that Infiniti actually took the time and effort to “walk the talk”. In the dog-eat-dog world of the premium segment, such care and finesse has become nearly extinct as most companies rarely see their customers as more than a sales target._DSC7114_edited_edited

Perhaps, one might argue that Infiniti has no choice because they are the underdogs and have to go the extra mile to impress with details but, isn’t that what premium is all about? If making you feel special was the brief, it was met. This is a critical factor because it shows how a company thinks when they really put the customer at the centre of the experience. If this kind of thinking reflects their philosophy, then Infiniti is on the right track.

The Q70 itself is an interesting sedan. It plays in the very tough space shared by BMW’s 5 and Merc’s E, along with all the other luxury D-segment suspects. It’s been tweaked and refined, and now shares an uncanny resemblance to the Q50. It has shed some of the “dumpiness” of the outgoing model and had a few nice nips and tucks, but still can’t quite shake a sense of ungainliness.


Inside is another Japanese masterclass in luxury. From the leather to the bits of metal inserts, it is a study in refinement. Once again, the Japanese seemed to have shown that even the most dressed up sausage can’t trump a finely cut piece of sashimi. It will divide, that’s for sure but everything is unmistakably premium.

q70interiorThe Q70 comes with three motors; a 2.5L, a 3.7L and a 3.5L hybrid, all in V6 configuration, the 2.5L has 218 hp/253 Nm which is enough to propel the sedan from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds, while the 3.7L variant trims that to 6.2 seconds thanks to 320 hp/360 Nm. The 3.5L Hybrid meanwhile offers 360hp/350Nm (not inclusive of the 67hp and 270Nm from the electric motor from 1,770-2,000rpm) and a Panamera-beating 5.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h. Prices start from a new low price of RM295,000 for the 2.5L base model, RM375,000 for the 3.7L and RM420,000 for the hybrid (all on-the-road without insurance).

_DSC7172The idea that you can only get a luxury car from a European brand is something that we in Malaysia can’t seem to shake. If you’re still thinking luxury means making a big impression by showing up in your high-school reunion in a borrowed Jag like Romy and Michele, think again. Today, it’s about quality, comfort, good looks and visually pleasing design. Modern luxury pays attention to the details, but ultimately doesn’t care what logo is on the grille.

If being Gwai Lo is all you need, then the likes of Infiniti have their work cut out for them. But if this launch was a statement of intent, then the rest better sit up. Infiniti not only made an impression, they essentially schooled the establishment.

And for an unforgettable experience in an Infiniti showroom: