You may think the ‘crossover’ is a relatively new segment in the automobile world. Well, it’s actually not. One of the very first examples was a 1948 Willys-Overland Jeepster, which still looks freakin' amazing. While back then, a crossover was something outrageous, it’s a segment today that is quite normal and fills the void for those wanting a hatchback, but with the height of an SUV.
Much like the 2017 Infiniti Q30.
Infiniti has been around since the 1990s, but is still so unfamiliar to some Australians. In this newly-introduced model, the Nissan-owned company is hoping the Q30 will be making buyers' shortlists when it comes to new, premium hatchbacks, er, crossovers.
The Q30 shares the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz A-class. However, the price difference between the two is considerable. The A200 starts at $44,000, whereas the entry-level to the Q30 range, the GT petrol model we have here, starts at $38,900 before on-road costs. It climbs to $44,900 for the Sport and tops out with the Sport Premium at $52,900.
To make the Infiniti a little more appealing, it is currently being offered at $38,888 drive away, bringing the value equation a little more into focus.
Even though it has the less powerful 1.6-litre engine than the 2.0-litre found in higher-spec models, the GT still gets those muscular sharp looks and the cool Infiniti crescent on the C-pillar.
Our test car features Black Obsidian paint, but if you want to accentuate its deep crease lines along the body, a lighter colour like Liquid Copper could be a possible choice.
The Q30 is bigger than its distant A200 cousin, measuring 25mm wider, 126mm longer and 52mm taller, but, it’s still a hatchback in our eyes. Interestingly, despite the extra dimensions, the Q30 carries just 1kg more in tare mass than the A200.
And the boot is bigger as well. We managed to fit a large suitcase in the 430-litre boot without a problem. It's a not inconsiderable 89L bigger than the A200.
For bulkier luggage, the rear seats fold easily in a 60:40 configuration. Once they’re in play though, you would struggle to comfortably fit three people sin the back row. And they are a little firm. And the seatbelt buckles can dig into your bum if you’re the one who drew the short straw for the middle seat! Head, toe and knee room is adequate, and it’s good to see a 12-Volt connection, but rear ventilation, cupholders and a USB point are big omissions.
Disappointingly, a spare tyre is not present in the cargo floor, with only a tyre repair kit to help you out with a puncture.
You’ll get a sense of deja-vu in this car if you’ve ever sat in a Mercedes-Benz. Once again this is where the similarities of the A-class platform come into play, so features like the gear lever, driver information screen and nearly every button will look familiar.
One feature that doesn’t get the German treatment, unfortunately, is the InTouch infotainment system. The 7.0-inch interface has a bland design, the graphics are a bit pixelated and the system is like a walking Diplodocus – slow. It took 39 seconds to just open the Apps page.
On the upside, pairing your phone takes only a couple of button presses and each time you get into the car, the phone connects quickly. The quality of the Bluetooth is crystal clear too. But Bluetooth is where the phone features stop. Apple Carplay and Android Auto aren’t included.
The GT comes with manually adjustable cloth trim seats, which may not look as plush as the leather seats in higher-spec models, but are actually softer and more comfortable.
The padded leather dashboard with white stitching offers a premium feel, but some of the plastics do feel a bit cheap. The multi-function leather steering wheel is nice to hold and once again, follows suit with the A-Class, albeit sans flat bottom.
Parking the Q30 isn't all that easy. Once in reverse, it’s an immediate reaction to look for the rear-view camera, but, it is nowhere to be found. Because there isn't one. Rear parking sensors help to overcome this somewhat, although you won’t find any front sensors.
The GT doesn’t have a long list of safety features either, with the only standouts being forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking.
Vision is good all-round, although if you don’t have a front passenger, it pays to move that seat forward to increase visibility through the C-pillar for over-the-shoulder checks.
ISOFIX points appear in the rear for the kiddies, and with the dual front airbag package, head airbags, and side front airbags, it gives the Q30 a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Powering the front wheels is a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, producing the same figures as the A200, with 115kW of power at a peak 5300rpm and 250Nm of torque up to 4000rpm. The petrol engine isn’t super powerful, but when you need the power, it delivers torque with little hesitation.
The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission isn’t the best banana in the bunch. As with most dual-clutch gearboxes, there's hesitation from take-off and at low speeds, but once at higher speeds, gear changes are smooth and quick.
The daily drive to work over rough Melbourne roads was pleasant. Road noise was minimal and the suspension offered a smooth ride over the more jittery parts of the surface. Infiniti claims a combined fuel economy of 6.0 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. We found it to be using around 9L/100km in heavy traffic, dropping to 7.5 on the freeway.
To decrease fuel economy in traffic, the Q30 comes with a stop/start feature. But if the car is stopped on an incline, it can take a frustratingly long amount of time for it to get moving again.
There are three driving modes available – Eco, Manual and Sport. Putting it into Sport mode, there isn’t a noticeable difference from Eco mode, apart from it wanting to hold onto gears a little longer.
Once off the showroom floor, the Q30 comes with a four-year/100,000km warranty, which is one year more than the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Servicing costs an affordable $540 over 75,000km or three services, at 25,000km intervals.
Regardless of whether the Infiniti Q30 is a hatchback or a crossover, it still drives, looks and behaves the same way. While its design has won many over, you need to dive deeper to find its faults. If Infiniti can improve its infotainment system and include a rear-view camera, then this $38,888 (drive away offer pricing) car could live up to its premium name and stand proudly beside its A-class cousin.
Despite its flaws, if you’re happy with its unique design, the Q30 could be the car for you.
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