The Q30 is exactly what Infiniti needs to complement its larger models. Reasonably distinctive, well built and smartly kitted-out, it is attractive without being too bling. The two good diesels will be key choices for customers.
- 1.5 diesel is punchy and economical
- Pleasing textures and finishes inside and out
- All but basic SE are well-equipped
- Up against stiff, established and respected competition
- Not as economical as rivals' cars
- Interior design perhaps too conventional
With a long history of selling cars in the U.S., Infiniti is still a lesser known name in the U.K. The premium brand was launched with some very tax unfriendly cars at the start of the multiple dip recession and it hasn't been an easy ride. Infiniti has always been looking at the longer term picture though and with ongoing refinements, a greater number of diesel options and most importantly the new Q30, a sensibly-sized premium hatchback, it is in a good position to start increasing sales.
The Q30 is in fact built around the Mercedes-Benz A-Class floor pan and shares many Daimler Group components. This is no bad thing from a cost point of view and it is a well-respected starting point. Infiniti has certainly added its own image (never use a straight line when a curve will do) and the result is contemporary, identifiable and handsome even. The rising swage line runs into muscular haunches and in current vogue, there is a slightly ruggedised theme with the plastic edged wheel arches and inverted sill curve to give an impression of higher ground clearance. The nose has a sizeable overhang and the chrome edge from the stylised Infiniti grill runs neatly into the headlights.
Inside, the curvy theme continues over the dashboard. Instruments are in fact fairly conventional and there are a few Mercedes switches on show, including those on the steering wheel and for the electric windows. Thankfully, Infiniti has chosen a regular gear lever location for its automatics rather than the A-Class' fiddly column stalk. Infiniti has done a careful job with the materials in the Q30 and everything from the stitched leather dash top to the velour headlining on the Premium Tech trim are well finished. There is a good Bose sound system too which will help pass the miles. Neat dials sit ahead of the driver and the main touch screen is easy to use; ergonomics are good all round but overall interior styling remains on the safe side of exciting.
There are four engine options: a 1.6-litre and 2.0 petrol plus 1.5 and 2.2 diesels (all turbocharged). The 2.2 is punchy and gives the car good performance but the 1.5 diesel is the star of the show. With similar power to the 1.6 petrol but greater torque, it is eager and flexible at low revs so makes for relaxed progress. Not only that, consumption was almost twice as good as the smaller petrol on our tests (which included urban, rural and motorway sections).
Ride is refined and while it doesn't have knife edge handling, it feels more grown-up. The larger 19-inch wheels and sports suspension on the Sport trim don't materially affect comfort and the resulting feel is that of a well-engineered chassis. There is all-wheel-drive offered on the 2.2 diesel (available on all levels except SE) and 2.0 petrol (for Sport level only) which works well, although the front-wheel-drive models we tried were also well behaved, even in the wet. In terms of trim, the basic SE misses out on many of the niceties; the next up Premium is the common sense choice with Premium Tech adding a rear view camera and keyless entry.
There is much to commend the new Q30 and although Infiniti is still on its journey, this car feels pivotal to the company's success. That said, it is still a competitive market where established brands dominate so the Q30 has much work to do. For the moment though, it does have two advantages: an element of exclusivity and it undercuts rivals' cars by a small amount in terms of outright purchase price.
Need To Know
Best Models: Q30 Premium 1.5 d manual
Quality & Reliability
Value for Money