Infiniti Q30, the premium crossover ready to stand up and be counted

First drive impressions

Q30S

The Infiniti Q30 is the latest in a growing lineup of vehicles from the company. In many ways the compact crossover completes the lineup of vehicle options from sedans like the Q50 to the QX80 SUV.

As a crossover, the car provides a higher seating position, providing a increased feeling of safety and better view of the conditions around the vehicle. This also offers benefits like enables easier entry and exit of the vehicle compared to a regular sedan. The challenge of a crossover is to provide a comfortable ride without negatively effecting handling around corners like a full SUV and Infiniti has done a great job at achieving the right balance with the Q30.

Exterior

Exterior design

Something you can’t ignore is the exterior styling of the Q30. It picks up that common front end of all Infiniti vehicles, but there’s some very distinctive styling the adorns the side and rear of the vehicle.

Infiniti are very proud of the crease that runs sweeps along the side of the car, running across the door handles from the front and rear doors. The accute angles of this line meant they had to engineer new manufacturing processes to ensure it could be mass produced.

When you get to the C pillar of the car, you’ll notice probably the biggest design feature of the car. It zigs and zags in a distinctive way that ensure you know its different and Infiniti are hoping pedestrians turn their heads.

The Sports model gets an upgraded and far better looking front and rear spoiler as well as dual exhaust tips which all add to the overall appeal of the car.

Some of the concept designs (see Q80) from Infiniti are up there with the best in the world, with aggressive front ends ready to eat the road, but like far too often, we see these toned down for production. In a likely effort to appeal to a bigger demographic, or what feels like a more female one.

The Q30 has curved in all the right places and that flowing line from front to back is one of the best design features of the car. It looks like the car is efficient, even when sitting still, like the aerodynamic performance has been crafted in association with their F1 partner Renault.

Interior

Interior features

Inside the cabin of the Q30 is not a bad place to spend a commute. The seats are engineered specifically to mirror the natural position of your body, which Infiniti says means you get out of a drive feeling more refreshed. After driving the car, I can confirm the seats not only hold you in around the corners, but don’t pressure the underside of your legs like some severely angled buckets.

In the Sports model of the Q30, the seats, dash and steering wheel all feature stitched leather, with helps deliver that premium feeling. The center console is fairly rudimentary with a very traditional CD player, dual climate controls and the associated knobs and dials.

The steering wheel features the regular call and volume controls, but also offers control over driver stats, driver assists and more.

The most interesting part of the control scheme is the Infiniti controller dial for the driver that allows the interaction with the center display, without reaching forward to touch it. That display is 7″ and in the GT version of the Q30 is only a single-touch display, which eliminates pinch and zoom during navigation, however the sports model gets multi-touch support.

Camera

Technology

When it comes to technology, the Q30 features the Infiniti regular Bluetooth support for phone and call support, as well as some pretty limited apps like Google Calendar that can send you calendar notifications. This is through Infiniti’s InTouch Navigation system, which by today’s standards of Google Auto and Apple CarPlay are lacking severely in functionality.

If Infiniti want to draw savy consumers in the premium market, they’d do well to support both of these platforms and like many other auto makers, admit defeat in the race to stay current with the rapid development cycles software upgradable smartphones.

Surround reversing camera
One of the more unique features on the Q30 is the reversing camera. Thanks to a series of cameras (a couple mounted under the mirrors) and some software magic, the in-dash display shows a 360-degree view of your vehicle. As you make the reversing maneuver, you get to see the full surrounding environment of the vehicle, critically avoiding blind spots that often hide obstacles, pets and even children.

Safety
One of the main reasons you should consider the Q30 is its focus on safety, delivering many of the driver assist technologies available on the market. These include blind spot warning (on the A pillar), lane departure warnings and forward emergency warning and braking, all reducing your ability to have an accident.

There’s also traction control, stability control and traffic sign recognition, park assist and even tyre pressure monitoring sensors. While this lengthy list of features varies between models of the Q30, expectations are that most people will gravitate towards the Sport which includes many or Sport Premium that includes all the features listed.

Intelligent cruise control
This car is built for driving and whether that’s your daily commute in the city, or highway driving on the weekend, you’ll want to leverage technology to dramatically reduce the mental energy required.

With the car tracking the vehicles ahead, you can avoid the acute concentration that causes fatigue and stress when behind the wheel. This feature is so transformative, I wouldn’t recommend a car without it.

Even in heavy Sydney rain, the system did a great job at keeping the selected distance to the car in front. Just remember you can’t turn off completely, as people cutting into your lane isn’t always detected in a comfortable distance.

With the acceleration and braking taken care of by the ICC system, it leaves you with the simple task of keeping your car between the white lines. This does make you wonder how much a lane guidance system costs and how far we’re off having this implemented in cars at this price point.

Drive modes
Infiniti offer a Drive Mode Selector which lets drivers choose from Economy, Sport and Manual modes. This changes how fast the gear changes happen, increases performance under acceleration and its most noticeable when you pull on the right flappy paddle which promptly engages the next gear in the gearbox.

Economy will reduce your fuel consumption and get you further, great if you’re stretching to the next petrol station. This does however have a noticeable impact on your off-the-line performance, so choose wisely.

Bose sound
An optional premium audio system by Bose is available, which upgrades the audio system to a 10 speaker with subwoofer configuration.

Active noise cancelling
A lot of attention has been paid to the transmission of external noise into the cabin. Engineers took the final interior volume into consideration when designing the car, selecting the tyres and even go to the extreme of using Active Noise Cancelling to reduce noise.

After spending a day in the car, I can tell you conversations inside the Q30 are some of the easiest I’ve experienced in a vehicle with a combustion drive train.

Automatic
Infiniti have included a number of automated features to simplify the driving experience. There’s front and rear rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic headlights, auto-dimming rear-view camera.

ECO stop/start
When you pull up to a stop or lights, expect the car to turn itself in an effort to save fuel. The good thing about Infiniti’s implementation is the restart process of pushing the accelerator is instant and not an issue, but if you’re not a fan of the system, it is possible to disable it.

Wheel

Performance & handling

The front wheel drive Infiniti Q30 comes in petrol or deisel varieties, with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The entry level (or what Infiniti call mid level) features a 1.6 turbocharged 4 cylinder engine that makes 115kW and 250Nm of torque, not exactly a powerhouse, but is focused on economy with 6L/100km combined driving.

The more powerful turbocharged 2.0L Sport model delivers a better, more responsive 155kW with 350Nm. This skews the power to weight much more in favour of an enjoyable daily driver than has enough get up and go to put a smile of the face of any soccer mum / wannabe racing driver.

After also driving the 2.2L diesel, I can’t recommend it, while in theory its better at fuel economy than the petrol, it comes at the cost of performance. Starting the diesel version of the Q30 sounds more like a John Deere tractor than anything that belongs on metro streets. Take-off from the lights is also sluggish and makes it hard to recommend.

In terms of transmission, the car is only available in automatic, with Infiniti’s data suggesting about 99.9% of people in the luxury car market looking for atuo. The 7 speed gearbox is really only active in the first 5 gears, the 6th and 7th are like overdrive gears that allow the car to cruise at 110km/h with very low RPM and be as fuel efficient as possible.

Gold Coast

Infiniti store on the Gold Coast

Infiniti is still a new brand, especially in the crowded Australian market and as the premium arm of the Nissan group, they’re are able to leverage some of parent innovations. Internationally Infiniti sold 215,250 cars globally, a 16% increase. In the first half of 2016, Infiniti made a 32% increase in sales, but they were starting from a very low base, so that translates to just 357 sales here in 6 months.

To help grow the brand down here, they have a bold strategy to head to retail (sound familiar) but instead of a Melbourne or Sydney store, the brand is heading to the holiday destination of the Gold Coast. Infinity have secured a 2 year lease at the newly refreshed Pacific Fair, right along side the high-rollers like Gucci and Prada.

Currently there’s just 10 dealers in Australia for Infiniti, which the company believes they’re finding the right ratio of sales to dealers. They do have plans to expand into the future to better service Infiniti customers.

 

Gallery

At this point you’ve read enough about the Q30, it’s time to see more of the car with an image gallery.

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Video

On Wednesday, we had the opportunity to get behind the wheel and experience a combination of highway and mountainous roads. Here’s a video from the passenger’s seat of the Q30 through a spot of mountainous (wet) cornering.

 

Price & Availability

The Infiniti Q30 comes in a range of options, starting with the GT, the Sport and Sport Premium. Prices start at A$38,900 for the GT and ranges right up to $54,900 for the 2.2 diesel Sports Premium.

You can choose from 8 colours, they are, Black obsidian, Moonlight white, Blade silver, Graphic shadow, Magnetic red, Ink blue, Liquid copper, and Malbec black. All colours other than Black are optional.

You should know there’s also a QX30 coming in just a couple of months which will be an AWD version and will sit 30mm higher.

The Infinti Q30 is available now, just head to infiniticars.com.au for more info.

Q30 rear

Overall

If you’re a city driver (most Australian’s are) then you’ll be really in one of two camps. Either you’ll be price sensitive and go for budget options, or you’ll expect a bit more and be willing to spend to get to the premium range of vehicles. If you’re in the later division, then the Q30 is definitely worth a look.

There’s plenty of features to like in the Q30, especially for the money, but you should definitely skip on the under-powered GT and the sluggish diesel options. The Sports or Sports Premium 2.0T is the only place to start, delivering plenty of performance to let you have fun, without being over the top.

Infiniti have launched a new tag line, “Empower the drive” which shows through in the design and engineering decisions that come together to make the Q30 a great urban daily driver with style. Infiniti also say they don’t just do tech for tech’s sake. That’s true with their long like of driver assist technologies, however they’ll need to continue to heavily invest in R&D or borrow from their parent Nissan to keep on track with the competition.

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