2017 Infiniti QX30 AWD
2.0-liter I4, DOHC, turbocharged (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 lb-ft @ 1,200 rpm)
Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, all-wheel drive
21 city / 30 highway / 25 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
10.6 city/ 8.0 highway/ 9.4 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
30.2 mpg [7.8 L/100 km] (Observed)
Base Price: $30,945 (U.S) / $37,985 (Canada)
As Tested: $45,495 (U.S.) / $48,635 (Canada)
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada.
The 2017 Infiniti QX30, launched in the United States in late August, is the product of a now tenuous partnership between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler. There’ll be more such vehicles, most notably the Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup truck that uses the Nissan Navara as its foundation.
That truck won’t come to America. But by procuring the Mercedes-Benz GLA’s architecture, Nissan now has an entrant in the rapidly growing subcompact luxury utility vehicle sector. Built in Sunderland, England, rather than the GLA’s German factory, the Infiniti QX30 shares its powertrain with the GLA250 and benefits from an Infiniti renovation.
Fittingly, there’s a meaningful discount available for a buyer who’s willing to consider the Infiniti variant instead of the original Benz. A fully optioned 2017 Infiniti QX30 AWD enters the playing field with a haughty $45,495 MSRP, absent a number of features you’d expect on a much less costly car, lacking the space of a typical compact car, and deprived of the illustrious three-pointed star that adorns its twin. Yet this QX30 costs roughly $5,000 less than a comparably equipped Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic.
$5,000 less, but better. Marginally better.
The improvements, however modest, begin with Infiniti’s own tuning of the 208-horsepower turbocharged 2.0 liter and the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission to which it’s married. Less frantic and more subdued, the QX30 may not be quite as quick off the line as the GLA250, but it’s generally smoother to operate. It remains a quick vehicle — 258 lb-ft of torque just above idle is an admirable figure in a 3,500-pounder.
Unfortunately, there’s no perfect mode in the dynamic selector. Eco is decidedly eco in nature, going so far as to sometimes lug in too high a gear and sending excessive vibration through the cabin. The QX30’s Sport mode would be fine when you’re caning it, but it’s irritating in most urban driving situations. The Manual setting should cater to the enthusiast, but without a shifter and a clutch, Manual is no replacement for a suitable automatic setting.
Ride quality verdicts for the Infiniti QX30 published elsewhere have seemingly landed on every edge of the spectrum. My conclusion: just as the GLA provides a noticeable improvement compared with the clippety-clop CLA sedan, this particular QX30 seems to further move the needle yet again. It’s not a magic carpet ride, but the QX30 loped along rough and often icy roads in the middle of Prince Edward Island relatively unflustered.
This QX30 AWD has 8 inches of ground clearance and rides on 235/50R18 Michelin X-Ice tires. The entry-level QX30 has 6.8 inches of ground clearance and is also fitted with 235/50R18s. The QX30 Sport, wearing 235/45R19 Goodyear EfficientGrip summer tires as standard equipment, sits significantly lower, providing a clearly car-like 6.1 inches of ground clearance. (In some markets, non-all-wheel-drive variants use the Q30 nameplate.)
Increasing the emphasis on comfort naturally did the QX30’s handling no favours. With lifeless steering and plenty of body roll, the QX30 AWD doesn’t encourage ten-tenths twisty road driving, preferring to be driven quickly rather than hastily.
The degree to which these characteristics differ from one QX30 variant to another wouldn’t be clearly known without back-to-back-to-back drives. Less differentiated, of course, will be the in-cabin experience. Numerous pieces inherited from Mercedes-Benz — such as the wiper stalk, light controls, window switches, and the door-mounted seat controls — are mixed with radical departures from the GLA mold.
Gone is Mercedes-Benz’s silly column shifter, in its place is a silly console-mounted shifter with no detents and a separate park button. Infiniti installed its own vents, gauges, and infotainment unit. There’s no mistaking the connection between the QX30 and GLA when it comes to climate controls, all of which are mounted terribly low, far out of the driver’s sightlines, and nearly too far a reach.
It’s not an uncomfortable space for front occupants, but visibility is poor despite the lofty perch of the QX30. Although soft fabrics atop the dash suggest expense, wind whistling around the A-pillars, wing mirrors and B-pillars does not. And without features that we would expect from a small luxury vehicle at this price point — push-button start, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, cooled front seats, as examples — the price point becomes ever more curious.
North America’s tendency to view a vehicle’s price point in the context of its footprint won’t do the Infiniti QX30 favors. Fortunately, there’s plenty of footroom under the front seats, but you’ll have to gain access through the small rear portals to ever find that out. And once in there, headroom is lacking, the centre hump is tall, and seating three across isn’t recommended.
If the QX30 does a passable impression of a compact car in the front and rear seats, the impersonation falters behind the rear seats. Essentially a Civic-sized car, the Infiniti QX30 offers 25-percent less cargo capacity than the new Civic hatch.
The cargo area in the BMW X1, a direct QX30 rival, is 41-percent larger than the Infiniti’s. Having spent $45,495 for this particular example, accessing that cargo area still can’t be done with a keyfob blip. There’s no power liftgate available, not even at $45,495.
The greatest issue with the QX30 does not merely pertain to the vehicle itself but is, in fact, germane to most subcompact discussions. You could be discussing Honda Fits and Civics; Mazda CX-3s and CX-5s. Strictly on value terms, the bigger vehicles typically offer more of everything — power, space, refinement, style, cachet — for very little extra cash.
It’s important to note that a review of a heavily optioned QX30 AWD can’t be taken as a cross-QX30 overview. Markedly dissimilar ride heights, different curb weights, and unique suspension settings promise different value quotients for different QX30s.
Yet only in a handful of ways does the $45,495 2017 Infiniti QX30 AWD feel like anything more than a luxuriously equipped mainstream compact hatchback. Thankfully then, it’s not $5,000 more expensive than it already is.