2017 Infiniti QX30 Review

Say hello to the 2017 Infiniti QX30: the almost identically-sized, all-wheel-drive twin to the recently released Infiniti Q30 crossover...

It's not. Wait. Is it? No, you were right the first time. What you're looking at is not the already-released Infiniti Q30 crossover, it's the new 2017 Infiniti QX30 crossover. Confused? Read on.

Some backstory. Last month, Infiniti launched the Q30 in Australia.

The Q30 is based on the same underpinnings as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, except that, while its Benz brethren plays it straight as a hatchback, the Infiniti intentionally crosses the line between being a small hatch and a small SUV. Accordingly, it is classified by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) as a small SUV – not a small car like the A-Class.

The Q30 starts from $38,900 (before on-road costs), is front-wheel drive only, is offered in three variants, and can be powered by a choice of three powerplants – a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol, a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, or 2.1-litre diesel.

What you’re looking at here, however, is the Infiniti QX30. It starts at $48,900 (before on-road costs) for the entry-level GT and $56,900 (before on-road costs) for the top-spec GT Premium.

Regardless of trim grade, all QX30s exclusively pair the Q30’s 155kW/350Nm direct injection 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and the same Daimler 4matic all-wheel-drive system found in the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

That’s right, despite the diesel engine receiving much acclaim in the Q30, there’s no option for an oiler in the all-wheel-drive QX30. Given the diesel attracts a $2000 premium over the petrol in the Q30 range, however, that might’ve been pushing the friendship a touch in the already dearer QX30.

In GT guise, the QX30 comes standard with keyless entry, engine stop-start, hill-start assist, automatic LED headlights with cornering function and LED daytime running lights, automatic wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, an electronic parking brake, heated, power mirrors with auto dimming (driver’s side only) and puddle lamps, and 18-inch light alloy wheels.

The entry-level model also includes cloth upholstery, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, manual, single-zone climate control, a 10-speaker Bose stereo, 7.0-inch Infiniti InTouch infotainment touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming and voice recognition functionality, satellite navigation with live traffic updates, a forward collision warning, tyre pressure monitoring, and seven airbags.

Oddly, neither a rear-view camera nor parking sensors are standard. In fact, they're not even optional - the only option offered across the QX30 range being metallic paint at $1200.

The GT Premium rectifies this, however, gaining an around-view/rear-view camera combination, along with front and rear parking sensors. It also comes with adaptive cruise control with speed limiter, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, park assist, and traffic sign recognition.

Further, the top-spec model gains a fixed, panoramic glass roof, eight-way heated power-adjustable seats with seat/mirror memory, Nappa leather upholstery, automatic dual-zone climate control, a Dinamica headliner, wood trim instead of gloss black inserts, aluminium pedals finishers, aluminium kick plates, and ambient lighting.

Both the GT and GT Premium come with a puncture repair kit rather than a space saver or full-size spare wheel and, regardless of spec, neither supports Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality. Neither has a push-button start, a power tailgate, or hydraulic bonnet supports. And only the GT Premium gifts rear passengers with their own set of air vents.

Despite sitting side-by-side in terms of their VFACTS/FCAI small SUV classification, you can actually spot the difference between the QX30 and Q30… if you look hard enough.

The QX30 shares the same grille, ‘dynamic crescent’ C-pillar accent, and general silhouette as the Q30, but it rides 30mm higher than Q30 GT, and is adorned with satin chrome roof rails, satin chrome front and rear under-car protection plates, and plastic wheel arch mouldings and side sills. At 4425mm long, the QX30 is the same length as the Q30, however, it’s 10mm wider – the extra width attributed to the wheel arch extensions.

At the local launch, we got to experience both the QX30 GT (pictured below and right) and GT Premium (pictured top).

Jumping into the GT, the entry model’s cloth seats are basic and lightly bolstered but comfortable.

There are paddle shifters tucked up behind the leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, and brushed aluminium and gloss black accents partner with white-stitched leatherette on the dash, doors, and centre armrest to bring an initial upmarket feel to the cabin.

There’s no mistaking Infiniti’s key partners, though, with a clear mix of Nissan and Mercedes-Benz controls, buttons, and switchgear. If you’ve ever spent time in a Daimler product, you’ll likely feel familiar with the driver’s instrument display, wiper/indicator stalk, gear selector, window switches, lock and unlock door buttons, steering wheel buttons, and roof-mounted light switches.

The QX30’s in-dash 7.0-inch touchscreen (with gesture controls) is paired to an Infiniti controller located down on the transmission tunnel – behind the gear selector and transmission mode selector button offering a choice of 'Eco', 'Sport', and 'Manual' – while a small lidded cubby located at the bottom of the centre stack provides front-seat occupants with two USB ports.

Two shallow cup holders are best reserved for keys and smaller items, but the door pockets are a good size and there’s additional hidey space in the centre console bin, along with a 12-volt and SD card slot.

In the back, things are a little tight. Head-room is okay but legroom is marginal and toe-room under the front seats is snug. The QX30’s rear seat floor hump is also big enough to all-but rule out a middle-seat rear passenger.

Token rear door pockets are present, as are two netted map pockets attached to hard plastic seat backs, while rear air vents are substituted for a small storage cut out and a 12-volt outlet.

The rear seats are 60:40 split-fold and, though basic, stubby, and short on under-thigh support, are still comfortable. There’s no fold-down centre armrest and no rear cup holders, however, both outboard seats are ISOFIX-compatible. The QX30’s Q30-matching 430-litre boot is also up nine litres on the Mercedes-Benz GLA’s, but down 30L against the Audi Q3 and 75L against the BMW X1.

Hit the road and you’re immediately aware of the QX30’s compromised vision, with heavily raked A-pillars and thick B- and C-pillars making multi-lane highway driving less than relaxing – small rear windows, a slim rear-view mirror, and a distinct lack of commonly found glass cut-outs all not helping the cause.

On the highway, at highway-appropriate speeds, the QX30 impresses with its ability to shut out the sound of outside traffic. The catch is, tyre roar and wind noise seem to cut through without much difficulty, with noise levels rising to just shy of 80dB on test while traversing coarse chip surfaces.

With peak power coming in at 5500rpm and peak torque available between 1200-4000rpm, the 2.0-litre turbo under the QX30’s bonnet is a sound enough unit to get you around town and maintain a cruise on the highway in, but not a lot happens much below 2000rpm.

Get the smooth-shifting seven-speed auto to kick revs up to around 3000-3500rpm and the petrol is far more willing to get you on your way. However, we can’t help but think the Q30’s diesel engine would make for a far better highway cruiser with more real-world oomph, despite the 2.1-litre claiming an identical 350Nm – albeit over a narrower 1400-3400rpm rev range.

Although the premium Japanese marque claims that the QX30's chassis “was developed to offer a comfortable ride”, the model hasn’t benefitted from any specific local tuning, with Infiniti Australia having to select one of 52 globally available suspension tunes.

And while it’s not race-car rough, on the variety of Northern Victorian roads sampled on launch, the crossover’s ride on its standard 235mm-wide, 50-aspect Yokohama C-Drive tyres and 18-inch wheels was far from ‘comfort-spec’.

Firmer and more fidgety than a small, luxury, family SUV should be, the QX30 is busy and agitated on most standard Australian blacktop, while choppier, patchier surfaces easily unsettle the car, with larger undulations and ruts further highlighting the far from class-leading body control. That said, our test car did adequately handle a brief off-road excursion onto a gravel trail – some buzzing, vibration, and creaking being the only real exception.

Cat's-eyes, potholes, lumps and bumps are all easily picked up in the QX30 - not through the wheel, however, but through the chassis and the seats.

Devoid of much in the way of feedback – and teamed with inconsistent weighting that varies from very light when just off centre to noticeably weightier when more lock is required – the QX30’s electric power steering makes connecting and engaging with the car difficult.

Operating as a front-wheel-drive car until slip is detected, the ‘all-wheel-drive’ QX30 is really more of a part-time four-wheel drive, with the system able to automatically send up to 50 per cent of drive to the rear wheels ‘when needed’.

Branding aside, while the car still favours understeer when pushed, overall traction is good, with help coming from the quality, if noisy, standard-fit Yokohama tyres.

Switching into the GT Premium (pictured below), and while there are differences, there are plenty of similarities too.

Genuine wood trim inserts in the dash and doors replace gloss black items, and Nappa leather replaces leatherette. Other than that, though, the air vent surrounds are the same, storage is the same, the clunky and unintuitive infotainment system and central touchscreen is the same and, apart from slightly upgraded climate controls and seat heating buttons joining the mix, the centre stack is the same.

The GT Premium’s glass roof brings more light into the cabin, but reduces headroom up front. The electric, heated seats add leather and more bucketing and bolstering – as well as more Mercedes switch gear – but they also raise the minimum seat height for drivers and front passengers and the GT’s cloth seats better prevent sliding about so much.

The rear bench of the GT Premium is again similar, though a touch more bolstered, with those in the back now provided rear air vents, a fold-down centre armrest with two cup holders, and two individually operated reading lights.

The same two netted map pockets attached to hard plastic seatbacks carry over, as does the limited rear legroom and toe-room. Headroom in the back is still acceptable despite the see-through roof.

With our launch drive in the two QX30s over, we managed 11.8 litres per 100km in the GT, and 10.7L/100km in the GT Premium – a fair whack off the 2.0-litre’s 6.9L/100km combined cycle claim.

The Q30/QX30 pairing is a key part of Infiniti’s continued expansion in Australia. Infiniti Australia told CarAdvice that it’s tipping Q30 will make up the majority of sales compared with QX30 – 70:30 respectively – while the QX30 GT Premium is expected to claim 60 per cent of QX30 sales over the GT.

Direct segment rivals to the 2017 Infiniti QX30 include the Audi Q3, BMW X1, and the related Mercedes-Benz GLA. And while there’s no question Infiniti is trying to tempt buyers of these brands into its products with competitive pricing, the QX30 has flaws that may prove to be sticking points with real-world new-car shoppers. Flaws such as its firm ride, limited rear seat space, clunky and ageing infotainment, and specification omissions such as a rear-view camera, rear air vents, and parking sensors on the entry-level GT.

The QX30’s four-year/100,000km warranty might ease some minds, as might its 12 months or 25,000km servicing intervals. However, the majority of small SUV buyers in Australia are predominantly buying up the Mazda CX-3, Mitsubishi ASX, Nissan Qashqai, and Honda HR-V, with cars like the Subaru XV and Holden Trax also recording decent sales numbers.

And, while these brands may not come with an Audi, BMW, or Mercedes badge, neither does the Infiniti.

Click on the photos tab for more 2017 Infiniti QX30 images by David Zalstein.

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