Categorizing Infiniti is tricky. Obviously, they’re Nissan’s premium brand much like Lexus is to Toyota, but they never really took off in the same way Lexus did. They’re relatively popular in the U.S., but everywhere else in the world, especially in Europe, you’re more likely to see a Ferrari over an Infiniti. To attract younger buyers and increase their popularity, two years ago Infiniti decided to attack the most popular and prominent car market at the moment: small SUVs. Small crossovers to be completely precise.
The QX30 slots in just below the QX50 in the brand’s SUV lineup. It’s advertised as a compact crossover whereas the QX50 holds the much more prestigious compact luxury crossover label. Truth be told though, I’m not entirely convinced by that. After spending a good amount of time test driving the little QX30 in Lebanon, I struggle to see where Infiniti cut down on costs.
Visually, it’s similar to its bigger sibling, the QX50. The QX50 made it into GQ magazine’s 10 best luxury SUVs for the third year in a row, so it’s obviously doing something right. Infiniti didn’t want to deviate too far from their current design language which given all indications seems to be doing brilliantly, so they merely tweaked the QX30’s styling to give it some unique details.
Parked side by side you can immediately appreciate just how much more compact the QX30 is. As a city car and something to run errands in, it’s perfect. It can fit anywhere and you’ll never worry about accidentally scratching or denting it in a car park. To my eyes, it’s better proportioned too. I do like small, square-looking crossovers though, so I might be biased on that one.
The front fascia is noticeably different to the one found in the QX50. For starters, it’s not as massive although it’s still relatively big. It doesn’t extend all the way to the headlights, but rather forms a V-shape on each side which then extends into the headlights via a chrome trim piece. The headlights are a lot more aggressive too.
The taillights are more conventional compared to the ones on the QX50, but it suits the car’s character. I like the small roof spoiler/lip round the back. It matches the way the rear of the car slopes down just behind the C-pillar. Overall, it’s a brilliant effort from Infiniti. It just might be my favorite crossover currently for sale, at least design-wise.
This being an Infiniti, I had high expectations for the cabin, but I never thought I’d be left this impressed. I struggle to see how Infiniti can sell this thing so cheap. They don’t appear to have cut any corners. The materials are superb, the fit and finish is excellent, and you get a whole plethora of features even as standard. Because Renault and Nissan (who are in an alliance) work closely with Mercedes-Benz nowadays, and Infiniti is a division of Nissan, you’ll find a lot of Mercedes parts scattered throughout the cabin.
In case you were wondering, that’s no bad thing. Mercedes seems to be at an interior hotspot at the moment. They’ve got BMW and Audi under the ropes. If you look closely you’ll notice that a lot of the switchgear comes from Mercedes, right down to the infotainment system which has the same sort of software. The 7-inch screen works great and I’m pleased Infiniti integrated it with the dashboard instead of mounting it on top like Mercedes does.
Hand on heart, the QX30 is one of the most refined cars in its segment. It’s incredibly quiet inside. The engineers over at Nissan worked extremely hard on sound deadening and it shows. Road, tire and wind noise are all kept to a minimum. For something designed to cover a lot of miles and act as a commuter most of the time, those are extremely high praises.
Remember when I told you it has a lot of technology onboard? Well buckle up, because the list is rather hefty: Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning System, Keyless entry, Push to start, Voice Control, Auto-lights… the list goes on and on. You get the gist of it.
As far as space goes it’s extremely roomy for what it is. You can even fit five adults in relative comfort, albeit only for shorter distances if those sitting on the back seem to be above average height.
Engine and Performance
There’s only one engine choice offered with the QX30 and it’s Mercedes’ brilliant M270 motor. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder makes 208 horsepower and 350Nm of torque from just 1,200 rpm. It uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox to send power to the front-wheels in standard trim, but you can opt for an AWD system if you decide you need it.
My recommendation would be to tick the box. Not only is it a lot safer and much more predictable in slippery conditions, but it’s not that much more expensive too. Trust me, come winter time you’ll absolutely love the fact you didn’t skimp out on it.
As for its driving manners, it behaves like one might expect. It’s built on the same platform as the Q30 so it’s essentially got car-like road characteristics. It’s predictable, safe, and pretty quick since it doesn’t weigh a lot. You wouldn’t call it fun since it’s not a sports car, but you canhave fun in it. It’s pleasurable to drive, especially at normal, legal road speeds.
It’s a brilliant little car which left me with more questions than answers. First of all, why would you ever need anything more than a small, luxurious crossover? It does everything so well you do wonder if spending more money on something a few classes above would be a waste. I’m not saying big luxury limos, SUVs, or even sportscars for that matter, don’t have a point, but as a daily driver, what more can you possibly want from a car that the QX30 doesn’t already provide?