Infiniti swoops into premium compact crossover market with stylish QX30
- Credit: Infiniti
Infiniti has stepped up its assault on the premium compact market with the QX30 crossover helping to get the prestige brand noticed, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
It's the smaller things that can make a big difference as Infiniti is seeing with its new premium compact models.
The Q30 hatchback which has now been joined by the QX30 all-wheel drive active crossover, the latter an increasingly popular market Infiniti, the luxury Nissan brand, needs to be part of.
For the first seven months of this year, sales at 2,079 are 198% up on the same period of 2015, highlighting the impact of the Q30 and QX30 in bringing the brand to people's attention.
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Looks and style
Like the Q30, the Sunderland-built QX30 is shares its underpinnings with a Mercedes-Benz model – in this case the GLA crossover.
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Infiniti has put a lot of effort into stamping its style on it and creating its own character with its distinctive bulbous front wings curling into the bonnet, fancy, flowing fascia, tasteful brightwork body highlights and a wealth of desirable kit and creature comforts.
Put it alongside the GLA and it's the QX30 that catches the eye.
Under the bonnet
No choice here – just a 170PS 2.2-litre turbo diesel with a seven-speed automatic gearbox.
It's not the most refined diesel – although active noise cancellation which emits sound waves from the door speakers does a good job of counteracting any boominess – or the most powerful or economical. But it's a good workhorse, making decent progress with eco, sport and manual modes and cruising comfortably while returning 45 to 50mpg.
How it drives
The QX30 rides up to 45mm higher than the Q30 so the suspension springs and rear anti-roll bar are stiffer to keep the ride flat and control body roll. The QX30 is safe and surefooted on twisty roads, and a pleasant cruiser, so it's reassuring rather than rewarding.
The standard all-wheel drive system can send up to 50% of power to the rear wheels when the going gets slippery.
The downside of the firmer suspension is the ride can be jiggly travelling slowly over poor surfaces, although it smoothes out with speed, and you're always aware of tyre noise.
Space and comfort
Those up front are well catered for in the Premium Tech model's sumptuous, supple leather seats but legroom is tight in the back for tall passengers and even average size adults don't have much to spare. You can seat three across the rear bench but the middle passenger has to contend with a tall transmission tunnel.
The flat-sided 430-litre boot has a useful capacity but the floor is quite high with a small sill to negotiate. Rear seat backs split 60/40 and fold flush to create a long, flat load floor.
At the wheel
I like what Infiniti has done to the fascia of these compact hatchbacks – it takes a lot of the Mercedes controls, switchgear and dials but, again, creates its own identity with a dashboard that curves and flows, set off by rows of double stitching on the soft panels. Unlike the Mercedes, the touch screen is integrated into the fascia rather than set on top.
I'm not a great lover of brown and black trim but the Café Teak style pack of chocolate leather seats with graphite inserts looked good against the brown and black fascia and door trims and the chestnut bronze bodywork but it won't be everyone's choice.
A small rear screen and chunky C-pillars hinder rear visibility so I was glad of rear parking sensors, big door mirrors and my test car's reversing camera and 360-degree parking monitor when manoeuvring in tight, tricky spaces.
The Infiniti badge is not as well known, nor yet held in the same esteem, as the Mercedes three-pointed star. With the QX30 sharing so much with the GLA, Infiniti has had to make the QX30 attractive in other ways and has made a good job of doing so.