The 2017 Infiniti Q30 is a vital car for the Japanese luxury brand in Australia and, on paper at least, it looks like Infiniti finally has a platform that Australians can more broadly get excited about. Rather than quirkily-styled large sedans and SUVs, this Q30 falls right into one of the more popular segments in Australia.
If you listen to Infiniti though, it doesn’t really fall into the small hatchback segment. No, according to Infiniti, the Q30 is a ‘crossover’ despite being priced in such a way that it ‘should appeal to the small hatchback buyer as well’. Interestingly, the Q30 is the first Infiniti to be built outside Japan, at a high-tech facility in Sunderland, England.
I’m not entirely sure what the whole ‘crossover’ concept really means at this end of the sizing spectrum, and the Q30 precedes the launch of the QX30 later in 2016, which is very much a small SUV, so Infiniti seems to be covering as many bases as it can. This car has less ground clearance than a Mazda 3 for example. As such, we maintain that this is in fact a small hatch.
It’s already been four years since the brand relaunched in Australia, and there’s no doubt it’s been a tough journey. While the brand isn’t selling in huge numbers here, it is starting to make – ever so slowly – some inroads. There is therefore, real importance on how enthusiastically the Australian public accepts this new Q30.
Refreshingly, there’s nothing complex about the Q30 range and pricing. Kicking off from $38,900 and topping out at $54,900 (plus on-road costs), there's three engine variants on offer, one gearbox, and only one cost option across the range, with all Q30s being FWD.
If you’re considering a Q30 purchase, then, you won’t be weighed down too long deciding which grade to buy. That aforementioned option is a Bose audio system, costing $1000. It produces quality sound too, so consider ticking that box if you are buying a Q30.
You can read the full breakdown in our pricing and specification guide, but the 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine kicks the range off, there’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine and also a 2.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine.
All are mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission. Efficiency is solid across all three – 6.0L/100km, 6.3L/100km and 5.2L/100km respectively, and Infiniti claims the mid grade 2.0t Sport model is the sweet spot in the range. Following our (approximately) 100km test with each variant at launch, we tend to agree with that assertion.
While Infiniti claims the Q30 is generously specified across the range – and that is largely the case – we take issue with two things the hatch is lacking. A rear-view camera is available only on the top-spec Sport Premium grade, and there is no provision for Apple CarPlay/Android Auto on any model. Strange, given the tech leaning of the brand and the fact that so many cheaper alternatives now feature such tech.
Aside from those two omissions, the Q30 is well appointed and certainly doesn’t feel like it’s lacking in any other areas.
The exterior styling is quite attractive, with striking crease lines, swoopy styling cues and that signature point of difference Infiniti is renowned for. On that note, the point of difference works more effectively with the Q30 than it seems to with other Infiniti models. We think this car will polarise people a lot less.
The bold grille is the most obvious Infiniti design cue aside from the crease lines along the flanks, and the colour palette, wheel choices and elegant trim combine to deliver an attractive overall package. The more you look at the Q30, the more it looks like a small hatchback to us, but the proportions are near perfect. There’s nothing ungainly about the way it sits.
Inside the cabin, the elephant in the room becomes a little more visible. We refer to the platform sharing arrangement between Nissan/Renault and Daimler, which means that under the skin, the Q30 is in fact a Mercedes-Benz A-Class. While Infiniti has gone to serious lengths to create a distinction between the two, the resemblance appears when you’re seated in the cabin.
There’s a familiarity to the general real estate and the switchgear, along with other controls and touch points. The Q30 certainly feels premium and high-quality from the driver’s seat, with a beautifully insulated cabin too. Thud the door closed, and there’s very little from the outside world that manages to creep into the cabin, even at highway speed. There’s a little noise from the tyres on coarse chip surfaces at 100km/h, but the cabin is otherwise serene.
Infiniti spriuks its ‘zero gravity’ seat design, and despite us not knowing exactly what that means, the pews are indeed comfortable. We spend a few hours behind the wheel without a break and the seats hold well into corners, but are also comfortable enough not to be too hard either. It’s a well-struck balance and even the cloth trim on base models feels luxurious enough. The high grade model with fully electric seat adjustment provides plenty of movement for all drivers, and visibility is excellent too.
Once you work your way out of the heaving city traffic, the three engine options begin to show their strongest points.
The 1.6-litre engine is fine around town, and for those on a budget, but if you want to hook in on a country road, it has to work a little too hard for our liking. You won’t notice that up to say 80km/h though, so if you don’t ever feel like working it too hard, it’s an intrinsically good engine. It never sounds raspy or asthmatic, even up at redline. With 115kW and 250Nm to deliver, it’s no powerhouse by any measure, so it’s not claiming to be something it isn’t.
Next, there’s the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, which we think is the best compromise between performance and efficiency. It generates 155kW and 350Nm and gets the Q30 up to speed rapidly, and keeps it at speed effortlessly. The Sport model has seven per cent stiffer springs, which are also 15mm lower, and you can toss it into corners with gusto. There’s a little body roll as you’d expect, but it handles with more alacrity than you’d expect of a luxury vehicle.
The electrically assisted power steering has just the right amount of heft to it as well, and the brakes bring the Q30 down from speed time and again without fade. A sports model might not be important in this segment, but the Q30 surprised us with its ability.
The oiler is surprisingly quiet, both at start up, and under operating loads. We were impressed with its overall refinement and the 125kW, 350Nm outputs translate to solid real world performance. An ADR claim of 5.2L/100km on the combined cycle is efficient too.
Out on the highway, for those covering long distances regularly, the diesel comes into its own. On the run back into town at the end of the launch, the diesel lopes along quietly and effortlessly, ideal for this kind of luxury application.
The cabin is also roomy enough to transport four adults in comfort, and holds 430L of luggage in the hatch area too. A long-legged driver will eat into leg space for the passenger behind them in the second row, as you’d expect, but there’s a comfortable, sculpted second row bench seat on offer for occupants in that row.
The Q30 is covered by a comprehensive four-year/100,000km warranty (whichever comes first) and requires servicing every 12 months or 25,000km. Infiniti offers a capped-price servicing scheme (first three services) across all three engines, which averages out to $551 for the 1.6t, $540 for the 2.0t and $612 for the 2.2td up to 75,000km.
We tend to agree with Infiniti that the 2.0t Sport model is the sweet spot in the range, but we look forward to exploring that further when we spend more time with the various grades over the coming months.
There’s no doubt the Q30 is going to be the most popular offering from the brand in Australia, and it’s a solid car all-round. Infiniti will be hoping the buying public picks up on that theme.