Car reviews - Infiniti - Q30 - range
Head-turning exterior design, feels larger than it is
Room for improvement
Price leading GT misses rearview camera, cramped rear quarters, steering weight and feel
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25 Aug 2016
By TIM ROBSON
YOU don’t have to look far to see the evidence of the strategic partnership between Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance in the new Q30. Built on top of Mercedes’ MFA platform and sourcing its engines from the German’s extensive catalogue, the Q30 is also heavily influenced by the A-Class on the inside, as well.
The ubiquitous Mercedes all-in-one left-side indicator stalk is the first big clue, while the door-mounted seat controls of our Sports grade tester is another.
There are unique touches incorporated by the Japanese company throughout the car, including the seats and a host of electronic trickery that you won’t find in the Q30’s spiritual twin, the GLA.
Take, for example, the speed sign recognition system, which no major European manufacturer has managed to make work here, thanks to our rectangular signs.
The system aboard our Q30, though, works faultlessly, picking up the number on any oncoming sign and displaying it briefly on the dash TFT screen.
Unfortunately, it’s unable to filter out signs that may be in place for side roads, nor is it able to filter out time-sensitive signs like school zones, rendering the figure inaccurate at times.
The engines themselves – 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre turbo-petrols and a 2.1-litre turbo-diesel – have also been sourced from the Daimler catalogue.
The base GT comes with the same 115kW 1.6-litre four that’s used across the A-Class range, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that drives the front wheels. It also rides 15mm higher on its 18-inch rims Infiniti tells us that each spec level has its own suspension tune to account for weight differences between the three.
And while its radically sculpted bodysides and overtly styled rear end turns heads like a tennis match as we inch through the Sydney CBD, the glow wears off once we hit the open road, with the 1400-odd kilograms of Q30 blunting the ride and response of both the engine and chassis. Its steering is strangely heavy and listless, and it’s not happy being asked to get a move along.
It’s refined and quiet, though, and quite comfortable up front for two larger lads. The base car misses out on an alarming amount of spec, though, including a rearview camera – an almost unthinkable omission at almost $40,000 and in a supposedly premium car at that. It instead relies on rear sensors.
Standard automatic emergency braking goes a little way towards quelling the safety spec concerns, and the car still nets a maximum five-star ANCAP rating.
The more powerful 155kW 2.0-litre Sports also gains larger rims with third-generation run-flats as standard, as well as a 15mm drop in ride height and additional suspension massaging. It also looks more ‘A-Class’ inside, with more Merc switchgear making an appearance.
The Sports is instantly more settled and more feelsome, though the dim-witted, heavy steering response remains. The only element a driver can change is the gearbox mode, which does nothing to improve the chassis feel.
Despite its Sports moniker, the Q30 is much happier in a prolonged cruise mode, with items like radar cruise control, comfortable front seats and lane departure warning giving the Q30 real long-distance chops.
A decent 430 litres of luggage space is offset by cramped rear seat accommodations for all but the more diminutive of passengers, while awkwardly shaped rear door apertures make getting in and out a chore.
There are plenty of inclusions to suit urbanite types, including a pair of USB ports, plenty of door storage and a sizable glovebox. There is no logical arrangement for the storage of smartphones, though, and the lack of either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is a direct result of the ageing platform upon which the Q30 is based.
Regardless, the exterior design of the Q30 is a triumph of stylistic excess, cutting a dashing swathe through the slab-sided masses in daily traffic. Those sharp metal creases on the car’s flanks, for example, are possibly the deepest ever rendered on a production car, and required the installation of special welding techniques at Nissan’s Sunderland, UK plant to join the door skins to their frames.
Our Liquid Copper-coloured tester stopped conversations when it pulled into rest stops or services stations, with people young and old curious to know the origins of the diminutive newcomer.
Infiniti reckons it is young urbanites who will be drawn to it, but we reckon the car’s higher seats, concept car looks and compact footprint will draw from an older audience as well.
The Q30 is a key car in the long-term growth of the Infiniti brand in Australia, a brand that may well benefit if other key players in the space, like Audi, BMW and even Mercedes itself, don’t give their respective customer bases what that want in either the areas of product or, more crucially, the key area of service.
With just seven dealers across Australia, Infiniti cars will remain a rare sight on our roads until that number doubles, or even triples. Luckily, the Q30’s distinctive looks will ensure each of those sightings is a memorable one.
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