Car reviews - Infiniti - QX30 - range
Smooth ride, quiet cabin, sharp value, stand-out looks
Room for improvement
No GT reversing camera, questionable 4WD relevance
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22 Sep 2016
BLINK and you might think we are revisiting Infiniti’s Q30 small crossover that launched locally in August, but look closer and the observant ones among you will spot the 30mm increased ride height, satin black exterior touches, roof rails and a different wheel design of this new Infiniti.
It may share a significant amount of equipment, construction and design of the two-wheel drive crossover but the QX30 you see here is sufficiently different that Infiniti says it will attract an entirely different buyer.
The Q30 may be the more closely related to a hatchback out of the pair but both are classed as crossovers by the Japanese car-maker and while they may have more than just a passing family resemblance, a day trip in the four-wheel-drive version highlighted the key differences.
For a start, boarding the 30mm higher-riding QX30 will likely appeal to owners who have to strap children into child seats as well as older drivers that would prefer not to stoop.
Once on board, we were surprised by the GT’s interior that has a unique appeal, despite being dressed up in cloth and the spacious cabin is well laid out, finished in high-quality materials and punctuated with pleasant Mercedes-Benz components.
Even in the entry-level variant, equipment levels are generous with the large touchscreen, top-quality Bose stereo and comfortable driving position particular highlights.
Second-row seating offers a pleasant place for up to three more occupants with ample space, while the 430-litre boot is not just a good size but also a regular shape that would make it easier to pack.
Despite generally good equipment levels we were disappointed to see the exclusion of a reversing camera and sensors in the entry-level version, although Infiniti says it is working to resolve this.
The QX30 is closely related to the Q30 but Infiniti says the more all-terrain-focused version offers an entirely different approach to compact SUVs with a chassis tuned more for comfort than sporty appeal, and we agree.
While the Q30 has a firmer ride that rewards and almost encourages a more enthusiastic driving style, the higher-riding QX30 has a far more relaxing nature that promotes a similar driving style.
Over a variety of surfaces and speeds, we found the ride quality compliant and comfortable while obvious attention to noise, vibration and harshness has resulted in a serene cabin with very low noise levels.
If pushed however, the QX30 has more grip and poise than you might imagine. We would be very surprised if many QX30 owners chose to drive the little SUV with a particularly spirited attitude and there is probably more capacity in its chassis than most owners will ever discover.
On unsurfaced and loose stretches of road the QX30’s manner goes from confident to plain frivolous and while there is plenty of grip from the four-wheel-drive traction, the balance is biased to oversteer in corners.
It is not clear if the tail-happy tendency is due to general weight distribution or front-to-rear torque split but we were pleasantly surprised to find such a playful side to a more conservatively marketed model.
For all of our off-the-beaten-trail adventure we are sure a two-wheel-drive version would have coped just fine and we wonder how many QX30 owners will ever tackle more than a damp car park, which questions the relevance of the heavier four-wheel-drive version. But it’s all about knowing you could climb a mountain if you wanted to, right?A front-wheel-drive QX30 variant with the same boosted ride-height might bring the same off-roader appeal but with a more accessible pricetag.
Accelerator response is a little lazy but that is simply alleviated by flicking the driving mode into the Sport setting which also held the dual-clutch transmission in a higher gear for a more involved drive.
The 2.0-litre turbo and seven-speed auto combination is a great match for the QX30 and is a good balance of performance and fuel efficiency without excess.
For our money, we would be tempted by the higher-spec Premium variant for the plush leather interior and generous levels of driver assistance kit – plus that reversing camera which is missing from the GT.
It is widely known that Infiniti has collaborative partnerships with both its parent Nissan and German giant Mercedes. During a day with the newest Infiniti we were expecting constant reminders of the connection to the Japanese brand but the QX30 experience was one far closer to something from the three-point badge.
Such is the quality of competitors in the segment, buyers with their heart set on a particular rival model will probably be hard to persuade into the Infiniti thanks to powerful brand loyalty that has been forged over many years.
But for shoppers who haven’t quite made up their minds and have Infiniti on their ‘maybe’ list, the QX30 offers a compelling value equation wrapped up in a head-turning design that stands out from the compact crossover crowd.
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