Infiniti Q30 review
Nissan’s luxury brand has created its first compact hatchback and it’s built in Britain - but is it worth getting excited about?
The Infiniti Q30 offers an alternative to the traditional premium compact hatchbacks. However, it doesn’t have the same level of quality you might expect from the German brands. This brings the price into question, as the Q30 is close to the likes of Audi’s A3 and the BMW 1 Series.
It’s a good long distance cruiser with high levels of comfort but show it a corner and things are less impressive. A slightly higher driving position than most hatchbacks will appeal to some but practicality is hindered by an oddly-shaped boot.
Infiniti is a subsidiary of Nissan, created with the aim of making premium cars that will sell with a premium pricetag attached. Because of its relationship with Nissan you can expect to see shared parts from the Japanese manufacturer’s other models but also from Nissan’s Alliance partner Renault and Mercedes, which shares its A-Class platform with the Q30.
So far Infinitis have mainly been aimed at the American market with UK sale largely restricted to the fleet sector. However, the Q30 is trying to change all that. It’s an important car for the UK because it’s built in Sunderland and it’s also more attractive to private buyers on the European market because of its smaller dimensions.
The Q30 is a fresh start in some respects but it hasn’t completely shied away from the existing Infiniti guidelines. The stylistic bowed grille and sweeping headlights - inspired by a human eye - have remained.
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There are two bodystyles to choose from, the standard Q30 or the pumped-up Sport version. The later sits 15mm lower, has a more sporty interior and larger bumpers. Those who want a taller, SUV-inspired version will soon be able to order the QX30 - a crossover version of the car.
Infiniti believes the Q30 sits between the compact hatchback and crossover segments, so in theory it stands against no rivals in it’s sector. However, it is very similar to the Mercedes A-Class which is shares numerous parts and engines with.
The Q30 is available with four engine choices, 1.5 and 2.2-litre diesels and 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol units. The 1.6 and 1.5-litre engines are both available with a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic, while the two larger engines are only available with the automatic gearbox but they can be purchased in two- or four-wheel-drive guises.
Engines, performance and drive
The Q30 isn’t fun to drive, but it does make life simple. The 1.5-litre turbodiesel is expected to be the most popular as it is the most efficient and offers the best economy.
The Q30’s redeeming feature when it comes to the driving experience is its smooth ride and balanced steering, which makes it feel effortless on the road. If you’re going to be doing a lot of miles, they’ll fly by in this car. City driving isn’t the best and neither is the Q30 loads of fun on a winding road. It doesn’t make a meal of any of these situations but the class standards set by the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series are a tough act to follow.
The manual gearbox is a little bit disappointing. The Q30 is claiming to be a premium car but its self-shifter doesn’t offer a sophisticated experience and the automatic DCT gearbox is smoother.
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The most popular engine for the Q30 is expected to be the 1.5-litre turbodiesel. Although it might seem like a very boring choice, for most buyers it will be more than enough.
It has 108bhp, 260Nm of torque and will hit 62mph in 12 seconds. Around town it can feel quite underpowered, however, once it’s up to speed it has no problem making a swift overtake or joining a motorway.
The 1.6-litre turbo petrol offers similar credentials, although maximum torque is lower, it is available for longer and power is also higher at 155bhp. For a more performance driven experience, choose the 2.0-litre turbo petrol. This is only available with the Sport specification. The engine produces 208bhp, 350Nm of torque and it can do 0 to 62mph in 7.2 seconds. The Sport also gets uprated suspension, brakes and steering to make the experience more driver focussed.
The 1.5 was quite noisy, but more powerful engines are available with noise cancelling through the speakers to cut out some of the road roar.
MPG, CO2 and running costs
The Infiniti Q30 won’t be the cheapest to run but it won’t break the bank. However, compared to the Mercedes A-Class that it shares most of it’s engines with, the running costs are higher.
None of the engines will be tax-exempt as the lowest amount of CO2 emitted is 108g/km from the 1.5-litre diesel. This engine also achieves 68.9mpg on a combined cycle, which isn’t that impressive compared to the A-Class or BMW 1 Series, both producing over 80mpg from higher powered engines.
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Going up the range, the 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine will achieve 47.1mpg on a combined cycle and emits a higher 138g/km CO2. The difference in performance is so marginal that it’s not worth the extra running costs to step up to this unit from the base diesel.
As you would expect, the sports model isn’t too worried about efficiency. The 2.0-litre petrol engine, with four-wheel-drive, emits 156g/km of CO2 and has a combined economy figure of 42.2mpg, making it the least economical and putting it in the £180 tax band.
Sitting in the middle of all this is the 2.2-litre diesel, which offers a reasonable but not brilliant mix of efficiency and performance. Infiniti claims it will achieve 57.7mpg from its 166bhp engine and emits 134g/km of CO2.
Insurance groups range from 13 on the low powered cars to 22 for the most powerful Sport model. In this respect the Q30 does better than it’s competition. Although the A-Class is only slightly higher at group 15, the BMW 1 Series insurance groups start at 17.
Interior, design and technology
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. There are some questionable bits of trim around the boot opening but on the whole it appears to be very well built.
There is also the option of the Sports trim. This makes the car is 15mm lower and the bulkier bumpers add to the overall sportier look. The Sports model also sits on 19-inch wheels rather than the standard 18s.
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On the inside the Infiniti is well-appointed but doesn’t do enough to stand out. There is nothing overtly luxurious or premium about it but the underlying quality seems good. Comfort is the key word here. You get the sense that Infiniti has built this car as a mile muncher, someone spending a lot of time in the driver’s seat would appreciate the Q30. For example, the seats have been designed with the aim of supporting your upper and lower back to relieve pressure by not straining one particular part.
On the technology front the higher specification cars come with the option of sound cancelling speakers, to cut out some of the road noise. When it comes to clever tech there isn’t anything particularly special on the Q30. The majority of electrical features you can see appear to be pinched from Mercedes, which does at least give a hint of a premium feel.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The Infiniti InTouch infotainment system is reasonably easy to use. The control interface combines a touchscreen with a wheel and a selection of buttons on the centre console. This does make it easy to navigate using one or both ways of controlling the system.
We went off the sat-nav’s route a lot when we were testing the car and it was always quick to replan the route, so quick sometimes you didn’t even realise you’d taken the wrong turn. The mapping display looks very similar to the Mercedes COMMAND system, but brighter colours do make it easier to read.
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Practicality, comfort and boot space
The Q30 is only available with five doors and five seats, but space inside is reasonable. While in the back, there’s more than enough room for adults up to six-foot, there’s also good head height in the front. However, there is quite a lip along the top of the doors, which taller people may find themselves having to stoop under.
The rear seats aren’t sculpted in any way so won’t be as comfortable for long journeys as the front seats, but there is enough legroom and headroom. Passengers using the middle seat will be in for more of a squeeze and there is the annoyance of the transmission tunnel on the floor.
Cabin storage isn’t brilliant. The glovebox is large enough for a 500ml water bottle, as are the door pockets but there’s not a lot more space other than that. There is the option of adding storage in the armrest to help ease the problem.
Boot space is 368-litres and whether you could actually use its full capacity is debatable. The shape of the boot is quite awkward because of the curves of the hatch.
Visibility out of the front isn’t outstanding because of the chunky A-pillars but it doesn’t cause any massive problems. The back window is large but because the rear window line is high it’s tough to get a clear view out.
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Overall the Q30 is almost 4.5m long (4,425mm) and 1.8m wide. This makes it longer that a Nissan Qashqai but shorter and narrower. It’s also larger than a Mercedes A-Class, Volkswagen Golf or Audi A3, although the A3 is wider. It has 210mm ground clearance.
Leg room, head room & passenger space
Because the front seats in the Q30 are raised off the ground slightly, you get enough extra room to tuck your feet under. However with the driver’s seat placed for someone six-foot tall, this would make legroom pretty tight for anyone sat behind.
The Q30 also gets electric adjustable seats with three memory settings and buttons mimicking the sections of the seat. This is useful if you share the car with someone who favours a very different driving position to your own.
Access to the rear seats is good as the doors open to almost 90 degrees, although the narrowing at the bottom of the door does make stepping in a little awkward. Once you’re in, there are Isofix points on the two outer seats.
The boot is 368-litres with the rear seats in place. There are tie down points to secure your luggage and you should be able to fit a large suitcase, but the shape of the boot means you’ll struggle to fit more.
When we tested the car we managed to easily fit two medium-sized suitcases and some smaller bags without a problem. If you needed to carry more you can fold the rear seats with a 60:40 split, however they don’t go completely flat. The hatch opening is tall and wide though, this means there’s no need to bend down to lift things out although there is a pronounced boot lip.
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Reliability and Safety
The Q30 is available with Infiniti’s 3-year or 60,000-mile warranty, which even covers any imperfections in the paint.
Safety features include Blind Spot Warning, that warns of other vehicles in neighbouring lanes hidden in the driver’s blind spots. Forward Collision Warning with Forward Emergency Braking, alerts the driver to hazards in the road ahead – and ultimately takes automatic action, applying the brakes to help avoid or mitigate the effects of a collision.
Auto High Beam Assist, a highly-intuitive technology improves safety during night-time driving by automatically dipping headlamps to avoid ‘blinding’ cars driving in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, intelligent Cruise Control can maintain a safe distance from the car in front for a safe and relaxing drive