If the Infiniti QX30 looks familiar to you, that’s most likely down to two reasons. The first being that you might have seen many examples of the Q30 hatch rolling around, and the second being perhaps you’re more than a little familiar with the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The latter of them connects more pertinently as, under the skin, both the Benz and the QX30 have a lot in common. Actually, and more accurately, they’re essentially the same car in the same way that the Q30 is the fraternal twin to the Benz A-Class.
Shared engineering aside, the QX30 is an important part of Infiniti’s offensive to upset the traditional balance of the three main premium marques: BMW, Audi, and ironically, Mercedes-Benz. Obviously, both companies have agreed to let each other operate on the same territory, letting the customer decide and letting the product speak for itself.
Objectively, developing the Q30 and its jacked-up ruggedised counterpart, the QX30, was a decision centred on economics and a quickly contracting window of time. Conceiving, designing, and engineering a new hatch and a crossover from scratch could take close to 5 years, time that Infiniti did not wish to concede as they wanted a competitor to take on the BMW X1, Audi Q3, Range Rover Evoque and MINI Countryman as soon as possible. The QX30 also competes with the Lexus NX, though the latter is in a slightly larger segment.
To their credit, Infiniti has done a bang-up job making sure that the QX30 feels as congruent with their brand and unique unto itself. What has resulted is a stylish and luxurious premium crossover with bags of personality - though it’ll need more than that to turn potential buyers into owners.
In Australia, the QX30 is offered as two variants, the GT and Premium, both powered by a fairly punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with standard all-wheel drive.
“…it’s not European, not Japanese, not anything, really, just Infiniti. We like the brave attitude that shows. The QX30 is almost a coupe in the styling direction, rather than station wagon.” - CarsGuide
Hope you like a cascade of character lines as the QX30, like all other Infinitis, has no shortage of them. It does lend the car a very fluidic motif that, in the right colour, creates an illusion of it being a car made of liquid metal. For whatever reason, our eyes notice that the smaller size or specific proportions of these ’30-series’ cars lend themselves better to the Japanese marque’s aesthetic.
It certainly is more eye-catching than its closest rival from BMW, or Audi and, dare we say, even upstages the Benz it’s based on for sheer on-road presence and appeal, even if the glance stems from curiosity rather than attraction. Of course, there’s protective grey cladding that surrounds the QX30’s lower perimeter and a pair of proper skid plates at the front and rear, pretty much standard fare for these more ruggedised mostly-urban machines.
Engine and Drivetrain
“…we can’t help but think the Q30’s diesel engine would make for a far better highway cruiser with more real-world oomph, despite the 2.1-litre claiming an identical 350Nm – albeit over a narrower 1400-3400rpm rev range.” - CarAdvice
A single engine is slotted under the QX30’s bonnet, the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine that powers its lower-riding Q30 twin, producing 155kW and 350Nm. It’s a motor sourced from Mercedes-Benz - along with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic mated to it - with a proven record and strong delivery for powering the cars within the Benz portfolio.
Against similar 2.0-litre mills from rival German manufacturers, it behaves in quite a similar fashion, delivering its peak shove early (from 1,200rpm) in the rev range in one big lump and tapering the power curve progressively higher in the band. This means that it’s very handy for overtaking and effortlessly gutsy at normal speeds when a quick prod will instigate substantial shove. But let the engine linger in those upper reaches and there’s little performance to be gained.
The transmission, a 7-speed dual-clutch with paddle shifters, again taken from the Daimler catalogue, can be relied upon for quick shifts when torque is amply delivered to it but can feel a little ponderous at lower speeds. Despite some reservations with this choice of shifter instead of a more conventional torque converter, it’s a more than worthy alternative.
That plunging roofline steals some valuable headroom, too. Sitting in the back can feel a bit claustrophobic due to the small rear window and dark headlining. - AutoExpress
While some of the cabin flourishes will lead you to believe you’re sitting something bespoke to Infiniti, the control positions, weights, and general proportions match up exactly to the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
However, and again, knocking the Infiniti for having an interior very similar to one of the best cabins in its class may seem farcical, we’re a little disappointed that the strong impression made by QX30’s exterior doesn’t translate to a seated experience that feel as special. It’s dull and a little drab, particularly with the black leather, well made though it is. The Cafe Teak or Beige interior would be our recommendation.
In isolation, we can see how there’s actually little to objectively single out as being a glaring weakness with its interior, but honestly the strong ensemble of competitors make it rather difficult to do anything but nitpick. Paying top dollar means demanding the best, and the QX30 is found to be lacking that secret sauce.
Aesthetics and feel aside, the less-than-ample space for passengers isn't aided by front seats that, while quite comfortable, are thick enough to intrude on rear legroom. Headroom isn’t a strong point either, meaning taller adults will likely find themselves at odds with the low ceiling caused by that sloping roofline. It’s fair, space-wise, but competitors like the Audi Q3 and Lexus NX definitely have it beat.
Boot space is another confusing area as Infiniti have altered the GLA’s interior packaging enough that cargo space is noticeable reduced to 430-litres. That said, it’s still comparable to both the Audi and BMW, but we wonder what the Japanese automaker aimed to achieve as the upside to this compromise, especially since it lacks the Benz’s underfloor storage.
Behind The Wheel
“Ride comfort, particularly at higher speeds, is very good on the QX30; it’s very settled and relaxing on the motorway. It’s not too bad around town, either, although you do get a fair amount of heave over bigger bumps and it shudders heavily over sharp-edged intrusions.” - What Car?
Its lower-riding sibling, the Q30, does have a hushed cabin that’s very good by hatch standards. But thanks to the thicker tyres and added suspension travel, there’s even less that would successfully bother the QX30 while on the move. It’s a comfortable car, but it falls a half point or so on the refinement scale behind the BMW and Audi. It’s not a large thing, and certain frequencies of small bumps will have it struggling to stay composed or have the passengers remain blissfully unaware.
But in spite of its cushiony ride along roads with larger undulations, body roll is kept well at bay. Show it some anger and the chassis is able to roll with the punches, awakening its dormant agility. There isn’t much about the steering to effuse, but the suspension is willing to respond to its fairly direct input. While the Q30 hatch is unsurprisingly better on these fronts, the QX30 isn’t far behind. And with standard all-wheel drive, it feels like it could actually be the more effective at covering ground by some margin in most situations.
Safety and Technology
Infiniti really needs to work on its central display software; the current system is slow, unresponsive and tricky to navigate, and it spoils an otherwise easy-to-use dashboard layout. - Telegraph.co.uk
ANCAP tested the Q30 hatch back in August 2016 and handed it a 5-star safety rating. An expected result as the Mercedes A-Class upon which it’s based also walked away with a strong showing. There’s little to separate them in terms of safety kit either as the QX30 comes with 7 airbags and Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) with Forward Collision Warning.
Additional niceties such as blind spot detection and a 360-degree camera system are only given on the top-spec Premium, but each does come with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with in-built navigation with live traffic updates. Frankly, it isn’t as easy to use nor as nice to look at as those in rivals (BMW and Audi lead the pack, depending who you ask) but the Infiniti does at least offer a horizontal control knob that does make interaction easier and pairs it with a standard 10-speaker Bose speaker system.
All told, the concept that became the QX30 posed an interesting and quite clever move from Infiniti, a premium crossover that leverages the established engineering pedigree of Mercedes-Benz, offering it as a left-field premium option without the (perceived) left-field drawbacks. But like the Q30, it’s in the execution where the arguments for its rivals peak in relevance.
Both cars are very good, and among the two the QX30 gets our pick. It could even be best car within Infiniti’s current stable. But to excel in an arena where talent is in no shortage, anything less than an exceptional display isn’t going to cut the mustard, at least for very long, for the discerning buyer.
Telegraph.co.uk - 6/10 - “The QX30 is a very credible effort from Infiniti, with high standards of equipment and build quality and stylish looks. However, it’s hampered by poor interior space, which makes it less suitable for family buyers than its rivals. If you like the look of the QX30 but don't need four-wheel drive, you should consider the Q30…”
CarsGuide - 3.5/5 - Stylish, smooth, sporty in its looks, Infiniti is certainly worth a look if you’re shopping around in the Audi, BMW and Merc section of the market. The Japanese QX30 offers added equipment at lower prices than the Germans, but hasn’t reached lofty heights in the prestige stakes at this stage.
What Car? - 2/5 - The Infiniti QX30 is likeable and good looking, but it's not very practical and it doesn’t make financial sense.
AutoExpress - 3/5 - “As a distinctive and premium crossover the QX30 will certainly generate the interest Infiniti has long been searching for, but the price will be a sticking point for many. It’s comfortable and well kitted out but the slightly cramped interior could also deter buyers.”
CarAdvice - 6.5/10 - “…there’s no question Infiniti is trying to tempt buyers of these brands into its products with competitive pricing, the QX30 has flaws that may prove to be sticking points with real-world new-car shoppers. Flaws such as its firm ride, limited rear seat space, clunky and ageing infotainment, and specification omissions such as a rear-view camera, rear air vents, and parking sensors on the entry-level GT.”
Autocar - 3.5/5 - “…there are better alternatives, and while we love an unconventional option in any class, in this instance our money would go on one of the roomier, sharper-handling rivals.”