In QX30 guise, Infiniti's smallest model get's an added dose of lifestyle, this raised, rugged-ised variant aiming to interest family Crossover buyers looking for a premium option. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
If you like the idea of Infiniti's compact Q30 five-door hatchback but want something with a little more lifestyle attitude, then the QX30 could suit. It competes with cars like Volvo's V40 Cross Country, the DS4 Crossback and the Mercedes-Benz GLA it's based upon and, despite its brand's Far Eastern roots, is built at Nissan's plant in Sunderland.
Infiniti is trying hard to build its brand in Europe and to do that, needs a wider model range. In order to do that, the marque borrowed the underpinnings and many other parts from Mercedes' A-Class premium hatch model to create the Q30 range, launched late in 2015. It also though, needs to be represented in the fast-growing Qashqai-class family Crossover segment. In time, the brand will doubtless have a purpose-designed model to suit this type of buyer but for the time being, the company has re-packaged the Q30 to try and tempt this kind of buyer. Hence this QX30, with its higher ride height, stiffer springing, wider wheelarches and roof rails. It's the kind of package that allowed Volvo to change its V40 into the 'V40 Cross Country' and that allowed DS to create the 'DS4 Crossback' from their DS4. Does it work here?
Unlike its Q30 stablemate, this QX30 is being offered in only one mechanical guise - a 2.2-litre diesel matched to all-wheel drive and a 7-speed auto gearbox. Handling is likely to be safe, predictable and not a great deal different to the Mercedes GLA this model is based upon. Like that car, there's the expected MacPherson strut front suspension as seen in the vast majority of front wheel drive vehicles. At the rear is a sophisticated independent multi-link set-up as you'd hope from an upmarket car. The suspension's firmer on this model, but Infiniti claims that modifications made to the chassis have compensated for this and kept ride comfort as supple as it is in the Q30. The intelligent all-wheel drive system is able to send up to 50% of the engine's power and torque to the rear axle to maintain traction on slippery surfaces and in inclement weather, enhancing a feeling of control and confidence when driving. For example, if a wheel slip is detected by sensors, braking is applied to the slipping wheel, while torque is sent to the gripping wheel for additional stability. This, along with the elevated ground clearance, means that the QX30 should be capable of dealing with the odd rutted track. Don't expect to set about the Serengeti though.
Design and Build
Though this QX30 is clearly based on its Q30 stablemate, its elevated stance and Crossover styling cues give it a more striking visual impact. The QX30 stands 30mm higher than the Q30, with satin chrome roof rails fitted as standard. And its wheel arch cladding is 5mm wider than that on the Q30, adding to the premium active crossover's purposeful appearance. An overall height of 1,530mm helps improve forward visibility, aided by a slim A-pillar design, while the elevated ride allows for a higher hip point (1,324mm), improving ease of ingress and egress. Other exterior details include re-designed front and rear bumpers and grained side sills for the required rugged look, as well as bodywork finished with satin chrome-plated inserts. The double-arch grille with three-dimensional mesh has been developed from its application on the Q30, drawing a flowing, fluid link to the headlamps for a more organic shape. Otherwise, the aesthetics are much as they are with the Q30, characterised by dramatic curves and turbulent, sculpted character lines. These flow up the double-wave bonnet, over the fenders, across the body line and into the strong shoulders of the car. The overall effect is designed to look stretched over bone and muscle, rather than the straight, 'mechanical' lines seen on rival models. Boot space is a reasonable 368-litres.
Market and Model
You'll need to pay around £2,200 more if you want this QX30 rather than an equivalent Q30 model with the same engine, the same intelligent AWD system and the same level of trim. In other words, you've got to really want the QX30's Crossovery look. For the time being, the QX30 range offers buyers only a 2.2-litre diesel engine mated to all-wheel drive and 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. You do though, get a choice of trim levels. The 'Premium' model is priced from around £29,500, while the top 'Premium Tech' derivative is priced at around £33,500. Either way, you get a lot of equipment included as standard. As well as smart 18" alloy wheels, 'Premium' models also get LED front foglights, heated body colour mirrors and additional chrome detailing, not to mention greater levels of tech and comfort inside and an 'active noise cancellation' system to help improve refinement. All models receive seven airbags, hill start assist, brake assist, collision warning with active stop and the usual ABS, stability control and traction control. 'Premium Tech' variants get leather trim and features like wood inserts and a rear view camera.
Cost of Ownership
One advantage of the QX30 being so closely based on the Q30 is that it costs virtually no more to run than its stablemate. So, for the only 2.2-litre diesel automatic AWD variant available, the combined cycle fuel figure is 57.6mpg and 127g/km of CO2. Buyers get a conventional three year 60,000 mile warranty.
It makes sense for Infiniti to address as many market niches as it can with its limited product range, so the QX30 is certainly a logical model for the company to have brought us, given the minimal amount of re-engineering work that must have been needed to create this variant from the standard Q30 design. The Japanese brand hopes this car will target buyers looking at up-market Qashqais and BMW X1s, but in truth, it's really more comparable to other premium hatches that have been re-packaged with SUV styling cues, models like the Volvo V40 Cross Country and the DS4 Crossback. For the small number of buyers looking at these cars - and the even smaller number willing to consider a relatively unknown brand, this British-built contender could prove to be an interesting proposition.