Infiniti’s new QX30 is a sling blade of style that the brand hopes will take a slice out of the already-crowded subcompact crossover segment. The low-slung roofline, high stance and crossover appearance is a fashionable presentation intended to appeal to a much younger Infiniti buyer.
This little car is the tip of a large global partnership. It is a shared vehicle with Mercedes-Benz (the GLA250) that is built in England for a Japanese automaker.
It was in 2010 when the Renault-Nissan Alliance (Infiniti’s parent company) and Mercedes parent Daimler AG announced a technology and platform-sharing deal. The first offspring is the QX30. Nissan invested $1.9 billion in its Sunderland, England, assembly plant to build it for global distribution.
The powertrain is the same used by the Mercedes GLA: a turbocharged and direct-injection, 208-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The engine spools up 258 foot-pounds of torque from 1,200 to 4,000 rpm.
Both nameplates are offered in either standard front-wheel drive or optional all-wheel drive. Infiniti (Nissan’s luxury brand) tuned the suspension, throttle response and transmission for the QX30. It also tuned the interior and exterior.
The five-seat 2017 QX30 is sold in three trim levels with starting prices that range from about $31,000 to $38,695, including the $995 freight charge from Sunderland, England. Standard equipment includes Bluetooth phone connectivity, a rearview camera, smart-key locking and push-button ignition, an electric parking brake, three 12-volt power outlets and dual-zone climate control.
Today’s tester, a Premium AWD model, had a starting price of $38,695 and a sticker of $46,035. Among the packages was the $2,200 Technology package, which includes blind-spot warning, lane-departure warning, forward emergency braking, intelligent cruise control, high-beam assist, around-view camera, moving-object detection and intelligent parking assist. The Cafe Teak Package, which costs $1,750, included gorgeous genuine teak, high-quality brown Nappa leather upholstery and a black suedelike (Dinamica) headliner. The styling treatment is dramatic and appealing.
Performance of the QX30 can be timid in standard Eco mode (which maximizes fuel economy). Sport mode brings quicker acceleration; I enjoyed most of my week in it. Fuel economy ratings are 21 mpg city, 30 highway and 25 mpg combined on the recommended premium fuel. I was averaging 24.6 to 25.3 mpg.
The engine also has auto stop-start at idle, which fortunately can be switched off. The tech feature can be annoying when creeping along in traffic — the engine is stopping and starting, and you can feel the clutch engaging, the turbo spooling, etc.
Ride quality is quite comfortable and on the sporty-firm side. The cabin is quiet below 50 mph, but the 18-inch runflat Continental ContiProContact SSR tires feel hard and spin up road noise at higher speeds. Braking is flat and secure with 12.6-inch cross-drilled front discs and 11.6-inch solid discs rear.
The cabin is snug, and surface space is premium to provide storage and place buttons, switches and cup holders in usable positions. They are all there, but the climate control grouping is low in the center stack and a bit recessed, which can take eyes from the road.
The front-seat area seems spacious enough for those with a compact body. Headroom is low at about 37 inches; the panorama sunroof and the seat bottoms may be short for large drivers.
The back seat has a short bench but a wide door opening, which helps entry. And though there are three seat belts in the back, the space is better for two average-size adults. The space is functional with bottle holders in the doors, a wide fold-down armrest with swing-out cup holders, a 12-volt plug and grab handles with coat hooks.
The cargo area has 19.2 cubic feet of trunk space (with a rigid cover) and is expandable due to the 60/40 folding back seat. With seats folded, the cargo space is about 5 feet long, 29 inches tall at the liftgate and 41 inches wide. It would be a chore to squeeze in a bike or other bulky sports gear. The liftgate is heavy and does not have the best leverage for lifting.
There are at least a half-dozen QX30 competitors, including the Acura RDX, Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lexus NX, Lincoln MKC and Range Rover Evoque. Each is aimed at the same buyer demographic and will cost in the mid-$40,000s with popular options.
The QX30 is an engaging first product in this partnership of assets. I prefer the Infiniti exterior styling over that of the Mercedes GLA. Interiors are an Infiniti specialty. But it is more like a small racy wagon than an SUV crossover. It is an ideal car for an active urban lifestyle, but the owner will be ready for the upcoming midsize 2018 QX50.
Mark Maynard is online at email@example.com. Find photo galleries and more news at Facebook.com/MaynardsGarage