A product of a platform sharing partnership with Mercedes Benz, a keen eye might spot a more than a few similarities with a Mercedes GLA when it, and the QX30, park side-by-side. There is a vague likeness of roofline and size, but the Infiniti has injected personality with gratuitous surface sculpting and chrome detailing. What looks like glass at first glance on the rear pillar, is blacked outed out metal bodywork. The swooping roofline is borrowed from the Mercedes, as is the high-set mini-SV-like stance. In its own way, the QX30 is quite beautiful. The “X” part of the QX nomenclature signifies AWD.
Infiniti sees the QX30 as a lifestyle vehicle for someone who might like a bit of outdoorsy-weekending that didn’t involve too much mud. The 155kw 2.0L petrol engine has a respectable 350Nm of torque which powers all 4 wheels through a 7-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox.
With a drive away price of $53,712 (NSW), you get a small, luxury SUV with Japanese build quality, and the odd bit of German OCD-engineering thrown in for good measure.
With the unique exterior, comes an impeccable interior. Much of the switch gear is borrowed from the GLA, but Mercedes hideous column mounted gear selector has been replaced by an easy-peesy pistol-grip in the usual place on the centre console. Just behind it is a one-touch electric parking brake button, the sports/econ switch for the DCT, and the control centre for the infotainment system.
The driver’s cluster has the usual dials, plus an auxiliary LCD for data including a digital speedo, essential for city driving with the mushrooming of red-light-speed-cameras. If you’d rather not donate to state coffers, the large numbers make for a more accurate indication that an analogue needle. The traditional speedo is still there for when you have scrolled through the menu system to display other important things like fuel consumption or tyre pressure and they are displayed instead of the digital speedo. Luxury cars now have full LCD screens for the driver, so dials feel a bit last-week.
The large 7” centre console LCD displays the remainder of the data including satnav, vehicle settings and reversing camera. There is a 360° view option which aids in the Intelligent Parking system. It measures a parking spot, then maneuvers the car into the space. We did not test the auto parking system because we couldn’t get it to work. Like the Mercedes Benz cousin, the QX30 auto-park feels more complex than most other brands. I have no doubt an owner would be able to nut it out. The system is always active and when you see the “R” in the driver’s LCD, you press “OK” on the steering wheel. Every other automated parking system requires the driver to activate it first.
The rest of the cabin has the same attention to detail. The build quality is simply beautiful, with every line and panel meeting exactly, and the materials all of a solid, high-end feel and look.
There are many options, but the base model still has an excellent quality audio system. The sound is deep and rich with the settings in the neutral position. The menu system will probably drive you crazy, but you’d learn to live with it.
The cabin is incredibly comfortable, though taller drivers might need to spend extra time getting the driving position just right. I’d like more reach adjustment on the steering wheel.
The steering wheel buttons allow access to menus displayed on the driver’s LCD. You can only control the radio stations (via steering wheel buttons) if the menu is in radio mode, so you have to leave the menu in radio mode, which then doesn’t display the digital speedo. This is where a virtual dash is handy. A full width driver’s instrument LCD can show any data you like without compromising on control. It’s only a small annoyance, but why does it have to be that way? Didn’t anyone try using it before the car came to market? The centre controls are handy, but similarly clunky. It feels a generation behind the rest of the market.
Both the Q and QX30 have excellent ride tending to the firm side. It gives you confidence. You feel like you can round a bend knowing coming out the other side will make you feel like Lewis Hamilton, sans helmet. The QX30 is spritely thanks to a nippy 350Nm of torque, and a low first gear. Selecting gears manually keeps the turbo spinning which makes the experience even livelier. Although the steering isn’t as sharp as a true sports car, the Infiniti makes a good fist of touring. 155kw doesn’t sound much these days, but it was once hot hatch territory, and that’s how it drives.
If you want to take it by the scruff of the neck in bends, you can, but the highways are sublime and relaxed. The cabin noise is minimal, and the ride excellent at speed, even on the larger wheels. Although still firm, the bumps are ironed out well. QX30 has benefited from the partnership with Mercedes Benz resulting in a small SUV that feels luxurious, nimble, and capable while being stylish. There is not enough power to be brutish, and lead-footed chavs won’t be satisfied, but everyone else will be fine and dandy.
As I said, the looks won’t appeal to everyone, but something strange happened on the way to drop the car off. I found myself feeling like I’d have liked a bit more time to get to know it, and that doesn’t happen often. This Infiniti would appeal to someone wanting hot-ish hatch attributes without feeling like they have to make excuses. Infiniti has the added advantage of exclusivity.
$53,712 (NSW drive away)
2.0L turbo petrol, 4 cyl, 350Nm/155kw
7-speed double-clutch automatic gearbox.
7” centre console LCD including satnav, vehicle settings and reversing camera. There is a 360° view option which aids in the Intelligent Parking system