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Car group tests

Infiniti Q30 vs MINI Clubman vs Volvo V40

Can Infiniti’s new Q30 rain on the executive hatch parade? We test it against rivals from MINI and Volvo

It’s fair to say that Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti, hasn’t had much of an impact on the minds of the British public. Unless you’re a fan of Formula One – where Infiniti sponsored the Red Bull team for a few years – it’s likely that the firm’s range of big executive saloons and SUVs has gone largely unnoticed.

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However, its latest model is aiming to raise this profile, and put Infiniti on a level similar to Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus. The new Q30 is a compact executive hatchback that borrows plenty of technology from Nissan, as well as engines from sister firm Renault, and a large chunk of running gear from technology partner Mercedes.

In diesel guise, the car aims to combine low running costs with plenty of kit, so we’ve lined up a couple of other alternatives to the compact executive hatch that deliver something similar, and give stiff competition to the Infiniti.

Best hatchbacks to buy right now

The MINI Clubman has enough extra room over the British brand’s regular hatch to be a viable alternative in this market, and while it’s no real looker, the mix of performance and economy makes it attractive. Volvo’s V40 is another efficiency champ with D2 diesel power, while the comfortable cabin and long list of safety kit make the car tempting, too.

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The new Infiniti will need to impress in a number of areas if it wants to compete against these strong class contenders.

Head-to-head

Parts sharing

The Clubman uses running gear common to BMWs, and the V40 has components developed from the Ford Focus, but the Q30 takes part sharing to another level.

The engine is from Renault, the nav from Nissan, and the platform and climate controls from Mercedes. Even the locking wheel nut key has a Mercedes bag and part number!

Driver assist

You can add blind spot warning, a 360-degree camera and park assist to Q30 Premium models for £1,300. Go for the auto model and it costs £1,800 extra, but also includes adaptive cruise.

Adding this to the Volvo costs £1,900, although on the MINI, it’s a more reasonable £810.

Emissions

The Volvo is the CO2 champ, with 94g/km emissions, compared to 109g/km for its rivals. Even upgrading to the more powerful D3, which matches the MINI for power, only raises emissions to 99g/km. Larger wheels on the Q30 don’t affect emissions.

Verdict 

First place: MINI Clubman

Look beyond the awkward exterior styling, and the MINI is a great choice for buyers after something different from an executive hatch. There’s enough room in the boot for most needs, and the double doors are a novel touch, while the blend of punchy performance, sprightly handling and low running costs makes it hard to beat. Go easy with the options, and it’s a great-value package, too. 

Second place: Volvo V40

If the Clubman is too much of an oddball, the V40 is the go-to choice if you want an alternative to the exec hatch norm. R-Design models look smart, although the pay-off is a firm ride, while the D2 model delivers excellent running costs. Add a comfortable interior, a strong reputation for safety and a long list of standard kit, and the Volvo is still a contender in the class.

Third place: Infiniti Q30

We had high hopes for the Q30, and overall it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Infiniti. It’s easily more accomplished than the A-Class on which it’s based, as it’s reasonably practical and has head-turning looks, too. But there’s too much evidence of its ‘parts bin’ nature inside, while the relatively high emissions and steep price also count against it.

Other options in this category...

Lexus CT 200h Sport

Price: £25,495Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl hybrid, 134bhp

Petrol-electric Lexus CT will appeal to company buyers, as it doesn’t face the three per cent Benefit in Kind levy of our diesel test trio. It has nav, a sunroof and metallic paint; just don’t expect the Sport model to be fun to drive.

Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI Sport Nav

Price: £25,755Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl, 182bhp

Here’s proof that the Infiniti faces an uphill battle in the class. The A3 is roomier, sharper to drive, faster and more efficient, yet still undercuts the Q30 Sport. It’s not quite as well equipped, but nav, DAB and climate control all feature.

Figures

 MINI Cooper D ClubmanVolvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux NavInfiniti Q30 1.5d Sport
On the road price/total as tested£22,245/£30,160£26,120/£26,120£26,180/£29,810
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)£8,320/37.4%£11,780/45.1%£10,603/40.5%
Depreciation£13,925£14,340£15,577
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£843/£1,686£834/£1,668£993/£1,986
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,111/£1,851£1,072/£1,787£1,153/£1,921
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost18/£565/B/£2027/£517/A/£014/£434/B/£20
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£299 (5yrs/50k)£821 (3yrs)TBC
    
Length/wheelbase4,253/2,670mm4,369/2,647mm4,425/2,700mm
Height/width1,441/1,800mm1,439/1,857mm1,475/1,805mm
Engine4cyl in-line/1,995cc4cyl in-line/1,969cc4cyl in-line/1,461cc
Peak power/revs148/4,000 bhp/rpm120/3,750 bhp/rpm108/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs330/1,750 Nm/rpm280/1,500 Nm/rpm260/1,750 Nm/rpm
Transmission6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel48 litres/£12062 litres/£15050 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down)360/1,250 litres335/1,032 litres430/1,223 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight1,320/530/1,300kg1,423/419/1,500kg1,472/488/1,200kg
Turning circle11.0 metres10.8 metres11.4 metres
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (unlimited)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/14812,500 miles (1yr)/10915,500 miles (1yr)/12
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.16th/10th17th/22ndN/A
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars90/68/68/4 (2015)98/75/88/5 (2012)84/86/91/5 (2015)
    
0-60/30-70mph8.8/7.9 secs11.3/11.0 secs11.4/11.9 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th3.8/5.4 secs4.5/6.9 secs4.9/7.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th7.5/10.0 secs9.3/12.6 secs11.4/18.8 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph132mph/1,950rpm118mph/1,950rpm118mph/1,800rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph54.1/32.2/8.3m45.9/33.6/8.7m45.3/29.9/8.2m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph70/47/57/67dB59/42/55/63dBN/A
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range49.7/10.9/525 miles51.5/11.3/702 miles47.9/10.5/527 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined58.9/76.3/68.9mpg68.9/85.6/78.5mpg58.9/74.3/67.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined13.0/16.8/15.2mpl15.2/18.8/17.3mpl13.0/16.3/14.8mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket152/109g/km/19%147/94g/km/16%158/109g/km/19%
    
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/cameraSix/yes/£320/£310Seven/yes/£325/£375Seven/y/rear/£1,060^
Auto box/stability ctrl/adaptive cruise£1,595/yes/£810£1,485/yes/£1,900No/yes/no
Climate control/leather/heated seats£460/£1,550/£270Yes/yes/£350Yes/no/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£515/£735*/£350£550/yes/£550£670/LED/£1,060^
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes£1,400^/y/£1,400^/y
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