Road Test: Infiniti QX30 Premium Tech
Infiniti’s compact crossover would benefit from being a little more clearly defined, says Alex Grant.
SECTOR: Crossover PRICE: £34,225 FUEL: 57.6mpg CO2: 128g/km
Conceived as Nissan’s premium brand for North America, Infiniti has had little need for compact cars until recently. But, with its sights now set on European customers, those have become important gaps to fill. In its first full year on sale, the Q30 hatchback more than doubled the brand’s UK registrations, and the QX30 crossover is looking to build on those foundations.
This is a rival for the likes of the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, not that it’s obvious from the styling. The QX30 is more Golf Alltrack than Tiguan – essentially a Q30 with a little more ride height and some protective body cladding, and perhaps more of a variant than a model in its own right. That the Mercedes-Benz GLA feels like a similar proposition is no coincidence; the two cars share a platform, but no exterior panels.
The high-riding hatchback niche is not quite the compromise it sounds; the Q30 is bigger than its rivals and that’s translated into a crossover with a surprisingly generous amount of boot space and rear legroom. It’s well-finished with plentiful use of high-quality materials and soft leather inside, if a slightly odd mix of Infiniti styling and Daimler-sourced switchgear and instruments. That’s not a bad parts bin to dip into, but it denies the QX30 its own identity or the consistency of fonts and finishes that you’d expect in a premium product.
Likewise, all of the right hardware is underneath. Four-wheel drive and 30mm extra ground clearance offer enough off-road ability to suit most customers, while stiffer springs and thicker anti-roll bars keep body roll in check for the 364 days of the year that it’ll spend on tarmac. As per class norms, it drives like a slightly top-heavier hatchback on the road, and Infiniti doesn’t offer wheels larger than 18-inches in diameter, which offsets the firmer suspension.
There’s no economy or CO2 sacrifice for opting into the crossover. The QX30 uses the same Daimler-sourced diesel and seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox as the Q30, and sharing the noise-cancelling technology from the hatchback means it’s equally quiet here. Eerily so, for anyone used to the same engine in a Mercedes-Benz product.
Unfortunately, there are few advantages to making the relatively small £795 jump up from the Q30. This lacks the fashionable SUV styling of its key rivals and doesn’t offer any additional flexibility as a trade-off for limiting customers to a single, relatively high-CO2 diesel engine. There’s clearly a business case for muscling in on the crossover class, but for company car drivers seeking something a bit different, the Q30’s wider range is a much better bet.
What We Think
The QX30 would have benefitted from boxier SUV styling to carve out its own niche next to the Q30; a point reflected by the North American line-up where both are offered as the same model. It’s not a bad car in its own right, but the Q30 makes more sense for fleets.
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