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.
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.
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.
The new Infiniti will need to impress in a number of areas if it wants to compete against these strong class contenders.
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!
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.
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.
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.
|MINI Cooper D Clubman
|Volvo V40 D2 R-Design Lux Nav
|Infiniti Q30 1.5d Sport
|On the road price/total as tested
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost
|Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel
|50 litres/repair kit
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery
|Service intervals/UK dealers
|12,500 miles (1yr)/109
|15,500 miles (1yr)/12
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.
|Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th
|50-70mph in 5th/6th
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket
|Auto box/stability ctrl/adaptive cruise
|Climate control/leather/heated seats
|Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go