Established in Australia four years ago (after a false start between 1993 to 1997) Infiniti is slowly building its model portfolio while expanding its dealer network.
Now, with a nearly-full range of passenger cars available, Infiniti has turned its attention to SUVs, adding the small Q30 to the existing QX70 and QX80 ranges, with another model to slot in between next year.
Eagle-eyed brand spotters will notice that the Q30 does without the X designation of the rest of the SUV range - because despite Infiniti’s claim the Q30 is an SUV, it’s front wheel drive only, with the very closely related QX30 adding all wheel drive, making the Q30 a member of the growing crossover class tailored to the demands of urban buyers.
Vehicle Style: Prestige small SUV
Price: $38,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 115kW/250Nm 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.0 l/100km | Tested: 7.3 l/100km
As the entry-level model of the range, the Q30 GT kicks off from a competitive $30,900 when compared with its prestige competitors. Equipment is comprehensive too, though the Q30 GT does without a rear view camera, even as an option, which is an inexcusable omission in a car of its class.
With a 1.6 litre turbo petrol engine the Q30 GT is pleasant to drive and brisk while not exactly brawny. Buyers looking for more can move up to the Sport and Sport Premium models with a choice of more powerful 2.0 litre turbo petrol, or 2.1 litre turbo diesel engines.
Infiniti utilises its alliance with Mercedes-Benz for the Q30. Under the skin, it uses the same platform as the A-Class and GLA. Engines, transmission, and some of the out of the way components are also shared, but Infiniti has given the car its own interior, exterior, and suspension tune for a unique look and feel.
- Standard Equipment: Fabric seat trim, single-zone manual air conditioning, automatic headlights, Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, colour instrument display, one-touch power windows, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch LCD touchscreen, satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice recognition, rotary controller, CD/MP3/WMA player, 6 speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 430 litres, expandable via 60:40 folding rear seat
Fabric trim and manual air-conditioning controls may not seem too luxurious, particularly when a similarly priced mainstream SUV may come equipped with more premium appointments, but the overall interior presentation helps the Q30 live up to its premium claim.
Entry to the cabin is via keyless entry, though oddly the key is still required to start the car. Prestige shoppers may also notice a familiar feel with interior switchgear borrowed from Mercedes-Benz.
The sweeping dash design gives a driver-centric feel without an obvious cockpit-style division between driver and passenger, and the layout of controls is clear and logical, with a high and easy to read central infotainment screen.
Use of the system is via a console click-wheel or through touch inputs, but the graphics and menu layout make the system feel more dated than its competitors, particularly when put up against the clear and logical BMW and Audi systems.
Front seat space is plentiful, but the rear seats aren’t as spacious as the dimensions might suggest. While width and headroom are at levels you might expect, legroom can be tight, particularly with tall front seat occupants to slot behind.
With 430 litres of boot space the Q30 can carry plenty, though the load lip requires a liftover and sits quite high off the ground. Elsewhere in the interior large door bottle holders are the most versatile storage space, with small cupholders and limited room in the console and glovebox.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 115kW/250Nm 1.6 litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: Front MacPherson strut, rear multi-link independent
- Brakes: 295mm ventilated front discs, 295mm rear discs
- Steering: Electrically assisted power steering, 11.4m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 1400kg braked, 700kg unbraked
As part of the alliance between Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti, the chassis that underpins the Q30, and the engine and transmission that drive it, all come from Benz, and are related to the rival GLA SUV.
That means that the Q30 GT runs the same 115kW 1.6 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine as the A 200 hatchback - but in the Mercedes SUV range there’s no exact equivalent to the Q30 1.6t.
That hands the Q30 a little breathing space against the GLA, filling the gap below GLA 180 and GLA 250 variants with a starting price below that of the less powerful Mercedes-Benz.
In city traffic the Q30 GT feels right at home, at times the seven-speed dual clutch automatic can hesitate to engage immediately, making the Q30’s acceleration slightly doughy off the line. Once rolling the Q30 gathers speed smoothly and calmly, without feeling or sounding coarse.
Ride quality is where the Q30 really shines. The GT model rides on higher suspension than the more sports-oriented Sport and Sport Premium variants, and as a result is better able to soak up imperfections in the road surface.
For urban dwellers that means no fear of nosing the front bumper into kerbs, as well as being able to clear all but the most severe traffic control obstacles. Not only that but weekend adventures onto often patchy rural roads can be tackled with confidence and comfort.
That slightly higher suspension does mean body roll is more obvious than it might be in the lower variants, and steering perhaps isn’t as sharp as it could be, but the trade-off is well worth it. Where many manufacturers simply make their cars stiff to avoid roll, Infiniti has embraced the characteristic in the best way.
The suspension tune isn’t the same as you’ll find in any Benz product either, with Infiniti developing its own unique ride to tailor the Q30 to its own requirements.
ANCAP Rating: 5-Stars - Crash test results for the Infiniti Q30 were gleaned from data obtained by Euro NCAP in 2015.
Safety Features: standard equipment includes 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 park sensors, tyre pressure monitoring, and forward collision warning with autonomous emergency braking. The entry-level Q30 GT does not include a reversing camera, either standard or as a genuine option.
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. Each interval does vary slightly in price, check with your Infiniti dealer for full details.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
BMW has redefined flexibility and space efficiency in the X1, with a clever interior that makes the most of the X1’s compact dimensions. Ride comfort depends heavily on the suspension and wheel package chosen, but otherwise the X1 is an ideal family companion.
As one of the oldest competitors in its segment the Audi Q3 may not feel as fresh as some other vehicles but counters by offering decent value in the segment and an interior that’s more roomy than you’ll find in the Q30.
As the chassis donor to the Q30 the Mercedes-Benz GLA shares key dimensions, like wheelbase, with the Infiniti and delivers an interior with similarly intimate space. The lure of the three-pointed star on the grille is a big incentive for badge-buyers, meaning that despite its similarities the Q30 may not even get a look-in.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
With a well-judged ride and an engine and transmission well matched to the demands of city driving the Q30 GT feels right at home from behind the wheel, delivering a high driving position, but not dragged down with the weight of all wheel drive for buyers that won’t need it.
Equipment levels can be a little hit-and-miss. The Q30 GT comes better stocked than most of its premium competitors, but doesn’t match the upmarket offerings of up-spec mainstream SUVs making it a tough call for buyers in the market.
The real letdown is the lack of a reversing camera - a relatively cheap and simple addition from a manufacturing point of view that’s inexcusably lacking, though high-spec models feature a 360 degree camera system. Visibility out the Q30’s tiny rear window is a challenge and a rear-view camera would see the overall score lifted from 3.5 to 4 stars, boosting the compact crossover’s appeal (and safety) greatly.
MORE: Infiniti News and Reviews
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