Do you happen to be old and lazy enough to put a sloth to shame? I’m sorry, but the Infiniti Q30 is probably not the luxury car for you. Don’t worry, there’s always Lincoln. But if you’re young and active and looking for something different, Infiniti has a very compelling car for you.
[Full disclosure: Infiniti flew me to Lisbon and gave me enough seafood to make sure I didn’t try to drive their test car all the way into the ocean.]
The Q30 is a big deal for Infiniti. It’s their first “global premium compact” car, built in Nissan’s Sunderland plant in England. Since it’s based on the Mercedes-Benz GLA crossover, it uses German engines and gearboxes as well as a few other bits from the Mercedes bin.
But with the suspension, software package and design both inside and out being Infiniti’s own, you’re looking at way more than a rebadged GLA. Before getting into what’s it like to spend some time in the Q30, let me walk you through all the fairy tales Infiniti felt important to share with us:
- We don’t know exactly what the Q30 is, but it’s certainly not a hatchback, nor a crossover.
- That’s because it sits lower than a crossover, but higher than a hatchback. What more proof do you need?
- This new, segment-spanning vehicle concept has an in your face attitude inspired even by poetry, so it’s safe to assume it will attract a new generation of premium buyers all over the world.
Get all that? What’s that, no? Never mind. Let’s just start with the exterior then.
Two years ago at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the Q30 Concept seemed to have all the swoops in the world, and now, I’m happy to report that the production version kept them all.
Those two lines are pretty daring on the side going all the way from the front to the rear, and with those thin A-pillars leading up to the low-slung roofline finished off with the C-pillar design they call “crescent cut”, the overall picture makes the Q30 look rather dynamic from almost any angle.
The grill features a gloss black double-arch 3D mesh and the Sport version I got the drive has different, more aggressive bumpers as well. The exterior felt like a win to me mostly because despite being bigger than your regular hatchback at 14.51 feet, the Q30 doesn’t look bloated at all. The same could not be said about the Mercedes GLA, so that’s a job well done.
The interior is a bit more conservative than the packaging, but at least everything is very clear and easy to use.
On the dash, you get lots and lots of buttons plus a 7-inch touchscreen, with Infiniti’s own software doing the rest. The Mercedes-Benz buttons on the steering wheel work just fine with that.
The Q30 Premium’s Nappa Leather trim is replaced by Alcantara in the Sport, but even the sportier seats felt comfortable enough for a long journey. The trunk will swallow 368 liters of your active lifestyle, which ain’t bad.
Infiniti also managed to create the quietest cabin in the segment. The claimed number is 10 percent lower than what the competition has, and it seems to be spot on because the Q30 is very civilized on the road indeed, even with the Sport sitting 15mm closer to the ground on 19-inch wheels. The most powerful 2.2 diesel even got active noise cancellation to keep that quality.
The suspension plays a huge role in that too. Once again, it’s Infiniti’s own development, and the aim was to end up with a comfortable ride that won’t disappoint with too much body roll at a pace either. They played around a lot with the damper- and spring rebound rates, and the results are quite impressive.
Being a global product like all upcoming Infinitis will be from now on, the Q30 will have to work on any road surfaces, so they even used two different geometries depending on the weight of the engine, since the difference can be as much as 264 pounds. That’s one fat person in your engine bay.
So, the ride part is fine, they made sure of that, but how about the handling?
Humorously enough, the car I drove won’t make it into the U.S., because I had the 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with 208 HP and 258 pound-feet of torque and all-wheel drive. Infiniti will keep the AWD drivetrain exclusive to the QX30 crossover in America, which will debut with a bunch of new Infiniti engines at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
While they kept referring to it as sporty, I didn’t feel like pushing this car anywhere near the end of its comfort zone. Why would anybody? The Q30 is about the looks and that premium feel, not chasing Audis and BMWs on mountain roads.
Yet if you put it into sport and take over the task of shifting gears, the car will obey relatively happily. The brakes and the steering are good, and with 208 horsepower on tap to deal with 3,406 pounds in case of the AWD, the Q30S can act fast for you. It won’t sound fast though, that direct-injection turbo is more on the diesel side when it comes to acoustics.
If you don’t feel like using the flappy paddles and leave the shifter in auto even in sport, Mercedes’ dual-clutch will do the stupidest thing and keep the revs unnecessarily high at all times, but at least in normal drive-economy mode, it’s smooth and fast enough both up and down. I wasn’t in love with that seven-speed overall, but maybe I just had to much DSG action recently. Either way, it does the job.
I found it to be watertight too, so there’s build quality for you.
Europe and the rest of the world gets the Q30 with a surprisingly wide range of gas and diesel engines ranging from a 107 horsepower oil burner all the way to what America can look forward to, the 2.0-liter gas engine.
All-wheel drive might be reserved for the QX30 in the U.S., but at least the Q30 base equipment level be higher than the European market’s when the car goes sale next summer.
The QX30 and the Q60 will follow in 2016, and if those turn out to be at least as good as this car, Infiniti can claim a reasonable piece of that delicious cake made of nothing else but the premium segment’s profit margin. Lately, Infiniti has been talking about being different. This seems to be proof of that, and I welcome it.
In the meantime, the Q30 should make you get out more.
Photo credit: Máté Petrány
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