10.8.2016Infiniti Q30 review
When Infiniti first broke into the UK market, it did so with executive saloons and SUVs, often featuring large petrol engines. Since then, more frugal and buyer-friendly engines have become available, but Infiniti wants to increase its presence on these shores. Now the time has come for a new direction, which has seen the creation of the Q30. The premium hatchback is the smallest model made by Infiniti, and represents new ground for Nissan's premium arm.
Review by Chris Lilly
With a smaller model for Infiniti, and in a tougher sector, comes a more familiar engine line-up for the Q30. Under the bonnet of the test car was fitted a 1.5 litre diesel unit that produces 109hp and 260Nm of torque. That's good for a 0-62mph time of 12 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. That doesn't sound too sprightly then, but the Q30 feels quicker than the performance times suggest. The torque is available low down the rev-range which means pick up and in-gear acceleration is good. It's particularly handy around town, with nippy progress able to be made when necessary. On the open road, the six-speed manual gearbox's long top ratio makes for relaxing cruising, and helps with refinement at higher speeds too.
Infiniti's Q30 might look a little different to its more traditional rivals, firstly because of a fresh design language from the brand, and secondly because the ride height is relatively high. This being the case, potential buyers should not expect the Q30 to have pin-sharp driving dynamics to rival a BMW 1 Series for example, or else they will be disappointed. Instead the Q30 offers a rather comfortable ride, even in the Sport model tested with its stiffer springs. Although the non-Sport model hasn't been driven, I reckon this version driven is more my cup of tea since I tend to prefer a stiffer ride with less body roll. However, for those that like a bit of comfort from their cars can do far worse than the Q30. If the Sport model is the least supple of the range, the rest must by super-smooth to drive, and the Infiniti is a very relaxing vehicle to be in. Put it on a motorway and it is a great way to cover a large number of miles, while around town it will soak up many a lump and bump without problem. Body roll is kept under control if not removed, and the steering is accurate but with little feedback.
The Q30 is a stylish machine, and even if you don't like the looks, it is undeniably striking. I like the design though, and despite the fussiness in certain areas, it's a coherant look that certainly won't put buyers off - and will instead attract many. The focus on styling though has seen function follow form to a degree, particularly at the rear. The roof-line means that passengers have plenty of headroom, even in the back. However, the sharp cut in to create the pronounced rear means that boot space is affected. Above the shoulder-line, there is almost no space to load anything without putting the seats down, which might be a rare scenarios for many, but that extra space can make all the difference sometimes. Factor that in though, and the rest of the boot space is good, as is leg and shoulder room for a couple of adults in the back.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Infiniti has paid a lot of attention to interior comfort, with the seats themselves a particular focus. This shows through too, as the Q30's interior comfort reflects that offered by the supple suspension. The cabin is a nice place in which to sit, with the seats comfortable and supportive, even over long distances. One thing that might not be immediately obvious is that the Q30 shares a number of components with the Mercedes A-Class - a move that helped get the Q30 into existance. Although this isn't clear from the exterior style, elements such as the engine range and architecture are linked to the compact Merc. This becomes more apparant inside, with a number of controls carried over from the A-Class. The driver's dials and stalks are a straight transplant, as are the controls on the doors. Unfortunately, something which wasn't carried over was the touchscreen infotainment system, with the Infiniti system both quite small and fairly fiddly to use compared to its rivals. The centre console and transmission tunnel are Infiniti too, and although the buttons are nicely styled, there are rather too many of them for a clean design. Overall, it's a nice interior that feels well built with good quality materials,and one that is very comfortable, but it can't compete with the likes of Audi's A3 in terms of aesthetics or equipment.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The engine fitted to the Q30 on test might not be very quick, but it is at least fairly frugal. Official figures put the fuel economy at 67.3 MPG and the emissions at 109 g/km CO2. These aren't the best in its class, but they're still very good - and easy to live with for buyers. Real-world economy during my time with it ended up with 57.2 MPG, though I saw an average in the low 60s MPG with longer motorway runs. Tax will be Â£20 a year, with nothing to pay for the first year rate.
The 1.5d turbo diesel is the most efficient engine in the Q30 range, and engine stop/start is available to cut the engine when stationary. Infiniti also offers its drive mode select system to switch between Standard, Sport, and Eco settings. This last option reduces throttle response, and where fitted, improves the efficiency of the automatic gearbox by changing up sooner. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 38.
The Infiniti Q30 is a bit of a left-field choice for a premium hatchback in more ways than one. It's not made by a German manufacturer, it's design stands out from the crowd, and the focus is on comfort. It might not be particularly cheap, but the Q30 is decent value for money, and Infiniti's first effort at a hatchback has resulted in a very refined model.
Model tested: Infiniti Q30
Body-style: Premium hatchback
Engine / CO2: 1.5 litre turbo diesel / 109 g/km
On-road price: From £20,550.
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.0 Stars