There’s a lot riding on the Infiniti Q30. Here’s why.
Infiniti has, largely, existed on the peripheries of the luxury car market. Its image as a ‘posh Nissan’ doesn’t quite work for it the way Lexus has worked for Toyota, and its models haven’t really taken off outside North America. Pair to that divisive styling and usually-oversized engines, and Infiniti simply couldn’t cut the mustard against the more advanced, and more established competition.
Fast forward to today, and things have changed. Seems the guys at Infiniti got the memo, and they’re offering properly relevant cars now. First was the Q50 saloon (read the review here), and now there’s this: Infiniti’s entry into the premium hatch segment, the Q30.
This is Infiniti’s first foray into this German-dominated market, which is probably why they leaned heavily on Mercedes-Benz in the development of the Q30, leveraging the German’s experience with the highly-acclaimed A-Class hatch. Split into three trim lines (entry-level GT, mid-range Sport, and top-shelf Sport Premium) with two petrol engines and a diesel, can the Q30 gain traction in our market, and bring the Infiniti brand to the fore?
“The Q30 is clearly part of the Infiniti family and shares the curves of its relatives - but in a much more accentuated way. The curved grille and sweeping lights are also familiar.” - AutoExpress
Although the Q30 is pushing to bring the Infiniti brand into the mainstream, the design of its smallest model has remained joyfully left-field. Divisive though it may be, it’s certainly distinctive among a sea of overly-corporate premium hatchbacks (like the BMW 1-Series). The exterior bears the flowing lines and creases that we’ve come to expect from Infiniti, and while it may not be to everyone’s tastes, its boldness must be applauded.
While the front is surprisingly inoffensive, and the profile balancing convention and distinction, the rear is bit of a mixed bag. While we like how the top-half of the rear blends together (the rear windscreen element extending all the way to touch the taillights), but the lower-half raises some eyebrows. Admittedly, the Q30 is going for a more crossover-esque look (think Mercedes-Benz GLA rather than A-Class), but the rear diffuser/aero element is a tad overboard.
Engine & Drivetrain
“There's three engine variants on offer, one gearbox, with all Q30s being FWD.” - CarAdvice
Infiniti has kept its Q30 offerings simple for the Australian market, and we reckon it’s better for it. All engines work together with a 7-speed dual-clutch auto, sending power to the front wheels. The transmission is smooth, with quick shifts for when the mood takes you. It’s no hot hatch, but it can certainly indulge a little hooliganism.
The engine range begins with a 1.6-litre turbo-four petrol, with 115kW/250Nm on offer and a fuel-consumption figure of 6.0L/100km. While smooth and mostly adequate, we reckon this engine is best suited to the urban driver, as it runs out of puff at higher motorway speeds. Moving up in the range nets you a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol, with a more considerable 155kW & 350Nm on tap. 6.5L/100km claimed consumption means there’s little (claimed) penalty to pay for a little more grunt, and this is probably the most versatile of the three engines on offer.
The top-dog here is the 2.2-litre diesel (which is actually more like 2.1-litres in size, curiously). The numbers are good for the oiler, too: 125kW & 350Nm, with fuel consumption officially rated at a miserly 5.2L/100km. This is perfect for the premium hatch buyer who’ll see a lot of motorway miles, as the claimed figure isn’t too far off what you’ll see in the real world (with a light right foot, that is).
“Inside the cabin, the elephant in the room becomes a little more visible…” - CarAdvice
The cooperation between Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz is evident in the interior, with the general architecture and employed switchgear carried over from the German brand. Infiniti has done its best to hide the Q30’s German roots though, with unique design elements dotted around the cabin. And while the COMAND system is retained here (which is no bad thing), we would have liked the central drivers’ display (nestled between the dials) to have seen some aesthetic revisions.
Materials employed throughout the interior are plush and forgiving, though dimensions are a little tight. Lanky passengers may struggle in the back seat, with headroom coming at quite a premium, and lacking the legroom needed to slouch. Things improve up front, with cosseting seats and plenty of adjustment to ensure comfort for both driver and passenger.
Behind the Wheel
“Comfort was Infiniti’s number one objective when developing the Q30, so it’s understandable that it’s no match for the BMW 1 Series when it comes to driver involvement.” - CarBuyer
Infiniti's have largely offered plush-riding passenger cars, and the Q30 is no different. This is one of the most comfortable cars in its class, even with the Sport’s stiffer setup, riding over bumps and undulations with the poise and grace of something much bigger (and costlier). This relaxed nature pairs well particularly with the 2.0-litre petrol and 2.2-litre diesel, as this is one very capable motorway muncher.
In town, the two petrol engines reign supreme. Punchy and responsive, these engines give the Q30 real point-and-squirt ability, which is something you’ll always need in urban traffic. The 1.6-litre is frugal and peppy enough for town driving, though we recommend the 2.0-litre as it offers some motorway ability as well, which the smaller engine lacks (to a degree).
Admittedly, any hatch in this segment will be met with expectations of dynamism, and the Q30’s pliant ride has put agility and dynamics off to one side. It’s not to say that it leans and rolls like a barge would, but it’s not nearly as engaging as a BMW 1-Series. The engines also mean that it isn’t quite as quick as a Mercedes-Benz A-Class either, though we advise punters to think long and hard about how they’d expect to use their car before disregarding the Infiniti.
Safety & Technology
“[The Infiniti Q30] Performed well in independent crash tests.” - Telegraph UK
Infiniti has always offered its cars with decent levels of tech, and the Q30 is no different. All cars get comforts like dual-zone climate control, heated seats (up front, at least), cruise control, satellite navigation, parking sensors, and voice recognition software. Top-spec cars get intelligent cruise control, powered front seats and a sunroof.
Despite the tech-focused nature of the Infiniti brand, the Q30 can leave some wanting in terms of both convenience and safety features. For starters, we find it odd (if not annoying) that the Q30 doesn’t offer smartphone mirroring in any grade, nor as an option. Even more grating is the omission of a reversing camera in all but the top Sports Premium grade, which we think is just a little mean considering this is a premium offering. Lastly, while it does pack an autonomous emergency braking function, ANCAP rated the Q30’s whiplash protection as “marginal” in the front seats and “poor” in the rear. Hm.
If you’ve been hankering after a premium hatch that’ll set you apart from the pack, the Q30 might very well be the car for you. It’s a very well-packaged, good-looking contender in a hot segment, and while the driving experience won’t get your heart racing, it has more than enough ability to the occasional spirited drive. Pair that up to Infiniti’s great reliability ratings, and the Q30 offers a proper alternative to established rivals like the BMW 1-Series, Volvo V40, and Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Infiniti reckoned that the mid-range Sport models would make up a bulk of the Q30’s sales, and their assumptions were well-judged, as it’s the model we’d recommend too. Choosing between the petrol and diesel powerplants should be done with care, taking into consideration how you’ll be using your Q30 most of the time, as both engines have strong points in specific environments (the petrol is best in town, and the oiler shines on long distances).
CarAdvice - 7.5/10 - “Infiniti reckons the A-Class-based Q30 is a 'crossover' as opposed to a small hatchback. Regardless of where you position it, the Q30 is an impressive offering that adds another luxury consideration for buyers.”
AutoExpress - 3.0/5.0 - “The Infiniti Q30 is an intriguing alternative to the premium German hatchback norm. It won't be to all tastes, but the curvy exterior and plush cabin offer showroom appeal to rival some of the strongest cars in this class.”
WhatCar? - 2.0/5.0 - “The Infiniti Q30’s an interesting alternative, but it’s ultimately hard to recommend against its stronger rivals.”
Autocar - 3.5/5.0 - “While hardly outstanding, the Q30 is credible. Its performance and refinement are respectable and its ride and handling are rounded, so it has substance to back up the style. Interior space and running costs are disappointing, but perhaps not punitively so for every owner.”
Carbuyer - 3.1/5.0 - “More expensive than many rivals [in the UK], the Infiniti Q30 isn’t great value for money.”
WhichCar - 3.0/5.0 - “The Q30 compact hatchback is the price leader for Infiniti, the luxury car arm of Japanese carmaker Nissan. Unlike other luxury carmakers, the Infiniti Q30 comes loaded with almost everything: the only option is metallic paint.”
Telegraph UK - 6.0/10 - “A very interesting contender in a market dominated by the three German cars shown below. This is the first car from Infiniti that feels built for the European market. If you want to stand out from the crowd and value a smooth ride over ultimate handing dynamics, then it's worth a look.”
TopGear - 5.0/10 - “Suffers from exactly the same flaw as every other Infiniti: The only reason you’d buy one is because it’s rare-groove different. Not necessarily better.”