AFTER FOUR YEARS HERE, THE INFINITI BRAND IS YET TO MAKE AN IMPACT ON AUSTRALIAN BUYERS. BUT, WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE Q30 CROSSOVER SUV, WE'RE PREDICTING THAT'S ABOUT TO CHANGE.
The 2017 Infiniti Q30 may not beat the Mercedes-Benz GLA or BMW X1 into submission, but it stands to become the biggest selling model for the brand here.
Chunky SUV proportions, city-friendly compact dimensions, and a distinctive sense of style; is the smart Q30 the car to get the Infiniti brand noticed at last?
Vehicle Style: Premium compact SUV
Price: $38,900 - $54,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 2.0 4cyl turbo petrol, 2.2 4cyl turbo diesel | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.3 l/100km | Tested: 7.2 l/100km (2.0 litre turbo)
Infiniti has launched the Q30 in Australia with a three-tier range, three engines, and something that the rest of the Infiniti range lacks: genuine prestige heritage.
How so? Well, the Q30 is built atop the same component set that underpins the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and GLA, thanks to an alliance between Infiniti and the German luxury marque.
Externally, that connection might not be obvious, but, inside, elements like the instrument cluster and steering wheel buttons will generate a familiar feeling with buyers who may have already been to their local Mercedes dealership.
The engine and transmission also come courtesy of Mercedes-Benz. The suspension tune however is uniquely Infiniti, so too the ‘Zero Gravity’ seat cushioning and the 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
- GT: Fabric seat trim, single-zone manual climate control, automatic headlights, Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, colour instrument cluster display, one-touch power windows, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Sport: (in addition to GT) Alcantara seat trim, sports front and rear seats, LED headlights with adaptive front lighting and auto high beam, Dinamica headlining, heated front seats, 19-inch alloy wheels, sports styling package
- Sport Premium: (in addition to Sport) Nappa leather seat trim, powered front seats with memory, dual-zone automatic climate control, rear seat air vents, heated headlamp washers, ambient lighting package, Active Sound Control (noise cancelling).
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch LCD touchscreen, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice recognition, rotary controller, CD/MP3/WMA player, 6 speaker audio (GT, Sport) or 10 speaker Bose with subwoofer (Sport Premium)
- Options Available: 10 Speaker Bose audio with subwoofer (Sport)
- Cargo Volume: 430 litres, seats up.
Eye-catching design is one of the the Q30’s cornerstones, from the expressive 'Human-Eye' headlights and double-arch grille treatment up front, to the swept C-pillar mask at the rear.
Inside, the Q30 is a little less adventurous, but certainly still striking. Even the entry-level Q30 GT features deep padded dash sections, contrast stitching, and gloss black accent trims.
It’s not too fancy though, with cloth seats and manual climate controls, nor does it feel bare-bones thanks to a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation, cruise control with speed limiter, auto lights and wipers, and a Nappa leather wrapped steering wheel.
Moving up to the mid-grade Q30 Sport brings significant upgrades, with one-piece sport seat backrests, Alcantara and leatherette seat trim, Dinamica (suede-look) headliner, front seat heating, a sports steering wheel, and LED headlights.
At the top of the range the Q30 Sport Premium features Nappa leather seat surfaces, door armrests, centre armrest, and dashboard finishers, powered front seats, heated headlamp washers (yes, really!), dual-zone climate control, ambient interior lighting, and Bose audio with active noise cancelling.
While the lengths Infiniti has gone to to ensure a premium feel are impressive, particularly in the Sport models, some of Infiniti’s less glamourous Nissan origins stick out - like the lower dash plastics, and mis-matched glovebox lid that looks more Pulsar than premium.
The touchscreen infotainment system also falls short of best-in-class status, and, while a supplementary rotary controller in the centre console is helpful, its functionality falls short of the likes of Mazda’s system.
But touchscreen entry at least makes the Infiniti system more intuitive than the Comand system Mercedes-Benz uses.
Front seat space is well and truly SUV-like, with a raised driving position and decent space for the compact SUV class. The rear seat isn’t quite so generous, with limited leg and headroom - fine for young kids, but not as accommodating for adults.
ON THE ROAD
- Petrol GT: 115kW/250Nm 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Petrol Sport, Sport Premium: 155kW/350Nm 2.0 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Diesel Sport, Sport Premium: 125kW/350Nm 2.2 litre four-cylinder turbo diesel
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: Front MacPherson strut, rear multi-link independent
- Brakes: 295mm ventilated (GT) or 320mm cross-drilled (Sport, Sport Premium) front rotors, 295mm rear rotors (all grades)
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 11.4m turning circle
It might look more like a hatch in pictures, but in the metal the Q30 really does present as an SUV, albeit an urban-oriented one. Hence why the range is only available with front-wheel-drive and seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
For buyers seeking all-wheel-drive, Infiniti will be launching the higher-riding QX30 next month (so keep an eye on TMR for that one when it arrives).
Under the bonnet of the Q30 range is a line-up of three engines: Q30 GT is powered by a 115kW/250 turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol four-cylinder, while Q30 Sport and Sport Premium offer a choice of either a 155kW/350Nm 2.0 litre turbo petrol, or 125kW/350Nm 2.2 litre turbo diesel.
Both Sport models also feature sports-tuned suspension which sits 15mm lower with seven percent stiffer springs. Front brakes are larger, with cross-drilled discs, and the Sport models run 19-inch wheels with run-flat tyres in place of the 18-inch wheels and tyre repair kit of the GT.
On the road, the GT, with its somewhat modest engine output, makes for a decent enough long-range tourer. The engine, while hardly sluggish, isn’t a firecracker but still gets the Q30 moving along briskly.
Thanks to softer suspension and smaller wheels, the ride is as comfortable as you’ll find. It is noticeably more plush than competitors like the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. And road and wind noise are pleasantly low.
Those seeking more punch will be pleasantly surprised by the 155kW/350Nm 2.0 litre turbo engine in the Sport and Sport Premium. Yes, it’s the same as you’ll find in the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, but there that car has all-wheel-drive, the Q30 does not.
That doesn’t really seem to matter though, as the Q30 has no trouble getting power down through its front wheels, and an eager whip on a winding road shows its performance capability.
It’s not what you’d call a hot hatch (or a hot SUV really) but it’s certainly ‘warmer’ than your run-of-the-mill offerings, and the handling is balanced and inviting.
Unfortunately though, that performance comes with the absence of rorty engine note.
The choice for cross-country drivers has to be the diesel. Although the 350Nm torque output is the same as the 2.0 litre petrol engine, and 125kW respectable enough for a diesel, its effortless low-speed torque swell, relaxed highway demeanour, and minimal thirst will appeal to rural buyers.
The added weight over the nose dulls some of the fine-handling of the petrol version, but for anyone planning to hitch a trailer or who makes frequent longer country runs, the diesel should fit the bill.
It isn’t as quiet as some modern diesels under acceleration, but is an exceptionally smooth unit and works particularly well with the seven-speed twin clutch automatic transmission.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars - Crash test results for the Infiniti Q30 were gleaned from data obtained by Euro NCAP in 2015.
Safety Features: All Q30 models are equipped with seven airbags, front load-limiting seatbelts, electronic stability and traction control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, ISOFIX and top tether child seat mountings, rear view camera, rear park sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking.
The Q30 Sport adds lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition (which repeats speed signs in the instrument cluster), and the Sport Premium includes adaptive cruise control, front park sensors, around-view cameras with moving object detection, intelligent park assist, and blind spot warning.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Four years/ 100,000km
Servicing: 'Infiniti Assure' capped price servicing sets one year/25,000 service intervals, with average pricing for the 1.6 litre engine set at $551 per service, the 2.0 litre engine at $540 per service, and the 2.2 litre diesel at $612 per service - each interval does vary slightly in price, check with your Infiniti dealer for full details.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Q30 runs into some seriously established competition, including the Mercedes-Benz GLA with which it shares its engines and underpinnings.
There’s also the very space-efficient and versatile BMW X1, as well as the popular, though ageing, Audi Q3. The big difference is that all three competitors offer all-wheel-drive variants where the Q30 does not - at least not until the QX30 range arrives next month.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Is the Infiniti Q30 good? Absolutely. In fact the Q30 might be one of the best and most appealing vehicles in the current Infiniti range.
As for the SUV claims, you can debate those in the comments. Certainly it’s no rough-and-tumble off roader, but as the category shifts to accommodate more high-riding hatches and crossover-style in-betweeners, the Q30 doesn’t feel out of place.
There's still a few rough edges - the infotainment system for instance is not as slick as what Mazda or BMW offers.
But with bold styling, plenty of premium equipment and pricing that represents great value (rather than just being cheap), the Q30 should at least lift the Infiniti brand into the eye-line of buyers.
The Mercedes-Benz connection is really only a positive for the brand. And, in a market where Aussie buyers are falling over themselves to get into compact premium SUVs, the Infiniti Q30 is a great way of being "just a little different to the Joneses".