The Christmas break provides the perfect excuse to explore new places. Time slows down as work-related pressures ease and your body – and mind – switch into holiday mode.
My family lives in Queensland and every year I head north on a pilgrimage. Usually I drive, but this year I decided to fly up and collect a car from CarAdvice's Brisbane office.
The plan was to head out to Warwick, in regional south-east Queensland, trek around a bit and then head to Moreton Bay, just north of Brisbane, to spend some time near the water before the start of another year.
I close my eyes and hold my breath, wondering what is in the garage for me...
Infiniti QX30 2.0T AWD GT... not bad!
So what's the difference? To both the trained and untrained eye, the Q30 is a small hatch, while the QX30 is an SUV crossover based on the Q30. Confusing? Not according to Infiniti. The difference can be rather ineptly summed up in the following way: the Q30 is an active compact, while the QX30 is a compact crossover. Ummm...
At any rate, I hadn't previously spent a lot of time behind the wheel of the QX30 and would certainly be clocking up some kilometres over the break.
The first thing I noticed, is the driving position is very low, as are both the front and rear rows of seats. The window line is almost shoulder level which is odd, given you'd expect a more commanding driving position in what is essentially marketed as a small SUV.
After spending a couple of days in Brisbane, it was time to head west to do the rounds and catch up with family. The drive from Brisbane to Warwick takes around two-and-a-half hours and once you escape the grey and uninspiring cityscape, the road opens up and offers up some lovely country driving.
The QX30 is built on the same platform as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and there are a few little touches inside that give it away. It also features the Daimler 4matic all-wheel drive system from the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
There are two trim levels available: the GT which is priced at $48,900 before on-road costs and Premium, priced at $56,900. Both share the same 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine that produces 155kW and 350Nm, paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Making our way out of the city, it's apparent the engine is lacking a bit of grunt at low speed. There's noticeable lag in the lower rev-range. It's far more accommodating of any demands for more power and speed when properly on the move.
Settling in to the cabin, I find most of what I'm looking for. Auto headlights and wipers, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity with voice command, satellite navigation that displays on a 7.0-inch touch screen, climate control, forward collision warning, auto-dimming mirrors and two USB ports tucked away at the bottom of the centre stack.
No rear-view camera, though. Given that so many new cars these days come standard with a rear-view camera – even a number of base models from mainstream manufacturers – it's disappointing that Nissan's premium brand doesn't offer this feature on the QX30 GT.
You'll need to step up to the Premium for the around-view/rear-view camera with front and rear parking sensors as well as extra safety kit like blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
The biggest problem with not having a rear-view camera in the QX30 is that visibility has been compromised by style. Infiniti's distinct design language means the QX30 has a really high window line, short windows, stretched out A-pillars and chunky zig-zag or 'dynamic crescent' C-pillars.
Heading out around Ipswich and on to the Cunningham Highway, it's apparent the satellite navigation system suffers from severe 'worst case scenario arrival time' syndrome, predicting an arrival time that's a few hours away rather than the more realistic 90 minutes. Not to worry, within the last 20 minutes, the arrival time will countdown at warp speed as you approach your destination.
After a few long, flat stretches the highway makes it's way through Aratula, a little village nestled at the base of Cunninghams Gap. Do yourself a favour and stop in at the bakery for a pie, cream bun and coffee.
Cunninghams Gap offers a fantastic winding road with amazing views of the surrounding rolling hills and valleys. Speed limits are strictly enforced though, so watch out for the 'boys in blue' tucked around many of the tight corners. You could also find yourself having ample time to soak in the views if you end up stuck behind a truck or caravan on the uphill run.
The QX30 is beautifully quiet on the road, with very little permeation of engine or traffic noise. You will notice a bit of tyre noise on rough surfaces, though. The suspension is quite firm but not offensively so, and the steering has a nice feel to it and is beautifully light.
After a week or so gallivanting around the countryside in the QX30, it was time to head back to the coast for a couple of days before returning to Sydney.
Woody Point has been on my list of places to visit for quite a while – it's one of the only places on the east coast of mainland Australia where you can see the sun set over water.
Given it was still school holidays, the Moreton Bay region was teeming with tourists. There are some fabulous fish and chip shops (Scarborough is my favourite spot for a good feed), relatively quiet boutique and art stores scattered about, beachside restaurants and Bribie Island is just a short trip up the coast.
At dusk, the LED headlights and daytime running lights complement the sharp styling of the QX30, topped off with 18-inch alloy wheels.
This car turns heads, and though you have to watch your own head climbing in and out, most of my friends and family who spent time in it, quite enjoyed the experience.
In the cabin, the cloth seats are comfortable and the material doesn't have a particularly cheap and nasty feel to it. There's a mix of Nissan and Mercedes-Benz buttons and dials – you can really notice the influences from both brands.
Overall the cabin feels upmarket in its design and finishes. You notice what's lacking once you start using the vehicle and realise that it's missing a few things you'd expect in a premium car. N0 push button start on either specification, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto functionality and the fact it's missing a rear-view camera remains a sore point.
The cupholders are shallow and taller bottles topple out around corners, the centre console bin is a good size though, as are the door pockets. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good in hand and there are three driving modes – eco, sport and manual.
The back seats were used mostly to haul a niece and nephew around, and, being 10 and eight, they found it comfortable enough though there are no rear air vents in the GT – they are a Premium feature. Adults, however, were a different story with limited headroom, legroom and toe-room.
There is no spare wheel, but there is a puncture repair kit tucked away in the 430-litre boot. The boot was surprisingly accommodating, big enough to handle a few suitcases, large gift bags and boxes of Christmas presents that inevitably ended up being carted around until a rather long game of suitcase Tetris finally saw their contents crammed into said suitcases, ready to fly home.
The sun setting over the water at Woody Point was spectacular and a great way to end a Christmas holiday getaway.
Over the course of the holiday, we clocked up around 1500km and recorded a fuel consumption figure of 8.2-litres per 100km which is pretty close to the claimed combined figure of 6.9L/100km.
There are certainly pros and cons to the QX30 and if you like the styling, you'll have a comfortable and capable car that is unique. You'll just have to forgive the lack of certain features you'd expect in a premium vehicle.