New Infiniti QX30 2016 review
Infiniti wades into the crossover market, but is its first attempt at a chunky small car a winner?
The QX30 is the best car Infiniti makes – but unfortunately that’s not something we’d shout from the rooftops. 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.
The easiest way to get noticed in the car world? Build a crossover. That's exactly what Infiniti has chosen to do with the new QX30. By adding rugged looks and an increased ride height to its Q30 hatchback, it's built a competitor to fight in the fastest growing car market across Europe.
Infiniti is to Nissan what Lexus is to Toyota - a luxury branch of a volume manufacturer. It's still a relative minnow in Europe, but is massively popular in America - and the company hopes that by giving European buyers what they want, it can replicate some of that success over here. Though the QX30 is far from a fully fledged SUV, it's got plenty of compact crossover competition, including its sister car, the Mercedes GLA.
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While the QX30 might not look to everybody's taste, with its origami-style bodywork and bulky plastic wheelarch cladding, it's not a deal breaker. Just look at the Nissan Juke - divisive at first but now one of the segment's biggest sellers. It's just a shame the Infiniti's daring design hasn't translated to the interior, which by comparison seems pretty drab and characterless.
It’s not particularly spacious either. The 430-litre boot is 51 litres down on the GLA despite the two sharing the same platform. 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.
While there are various petrol and diesel engine options in the Q30 hatchback, Infiniti has made the choice in the QX30 rather simpler – as there’s only one 2.2-litre diesel on offer. The 168bhp four-cylinder unit is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. That makes it rather pricey, though, starting from £29,490 and rising to a substantial £33,370 for our top spec Premium Tech model. Spec for spec it’s around £2,000 more than the hatch.
On the move, the most notable difference between the QX30 and its hatchback sibling is the more cushioned ride. The Q30 is far from uncomfortable, but the increased suspension travel on the crossover helps it deal with bigger undulations on the road. Having said that, hit an expansion joint or pothole at speed and the QX30 can’t quite shake it off without alerting the driver of its presence.
Like you'll find in the standard Q30, the 2.2-litre diesel does sound a little uncivilized at idle, while there’s little enjoyment to be had in revving it out. That said, by 3,500rpm the engine has delivered near enough all it's got, so it is best to leave the smooth seven-speed auto to romp through the gears, using the 350Nm of torque to build momentum.
For a tall and portly crossover, the QX30 doesn’t mind being hustled around, though. Despite the elevated stance, it resists body roll relatively well and the all-wheel drive system means you’re never short of grip. In fact, compared with the Mercedes GLA, the Infiniti feels more stable and engaging behind the wheel.
Given the inflated price tag, it's a relief to find there's no shortage of kit: a reversing camera, full leather interior, 18-inch alloys and sat-nav are all fitted as standard. However, at this price point it's difficult to ignore the fact you can have the (admittedly lesser equipped) more spacious, better refined and even plusher BMW X1.