Western Europe doesn’t like Infiniti very much, so the Japanese premium brand has decided to hit the road. The brand’s residency in the competitive region only lasted a decade, and middling consumer interest, coupled with increasingly stringent emissions regulations, is all the reason it needs to take a hike.
In doing so, Nissan’s premium division plans to cease global production of the QX30 at its Sunderland, England assembly plant. The subcompact crossover, born of a rocky Mercedes-Benz partnership, and its overseas-only Q30 hatch sibling go belly-up in July of this year.
The littlest member of the Infiniti crossover family appears ready to turn in its badge at the end of its product cycle.
Infiniti’s bite-sized crossover, called the QX40 QX20 QX30 (thanks, Johann), and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class are a set of twins resulting from a tawdry relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the Japanese brand. Based on remarks made by Infiniti reps at the Detroit Auto Show, it doesn’t appear there will be a redux.
Why Infiniti needs a subcompact crossover that shares its platform with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is a mystery that only the folks at Nissan HQ know the answer to.
After all, I spent four days wheeling one all over Los Angeles, from the airport to downtown and back, and I still don’t know the answer to that question.
Separating the QX30 from its platform mate and judging it on its own merits, however, is nonetheless revealing.
What's the Volvo XC40 Getting Into? America's Subcompact Luxury Crossover Segment Is Tiny But Growing Fast
Of the 1.4 million new vehicles sold in the United States of America each month, premium auto brands account for slightly more than one out of every ten new vehicle acquisitions.
More than 55 percent of the vehicles now sold by premium auto brands in America are utility vehicles. Of the nearly 100,000 luxury SUVs/crossovers sold in America each month, 7 percent are subcompacts, vehicles positioned below the compact BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Audi Q5, and a variety others.
It’s a sliver of a slice of a chunk of a pie. But that sliver is growing far faster than the overall U.S. auto market, far faster than the U.S. luxury vehicle market, and far faster than the U.S. luxury SUV/crossover market.
Into that four-vehicle premium subcompact crossover segment now jumps the Volvo XC40, timed to roughly coincide with the arrival of the Jaguar E-Pace. It’s a segment that, to date, no automaker has yet found a way to dominate.
Most readers are aware of my unbridled enthusiasm for base model cars. Sure, there are a few luxury models that spring to mind where it’s imperative buyers select the top trim, lest they run the risk of an arch nemesis pulling alongside them in an Escalade Platinum when they are piloting a lowly Escalade Luxury.
Thing is, it behooves the frugal customer to pay attention before they sign the note on a set of base wheels. For years, commercials told us “ America Runs on Dunkin” when we all know that America Runs on Monthly Payments. Most shoppers have a monthly or biweekly figure in mind and, examined through that lens, base cars aren’t always the best deal.
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.
* Assuming a “cut” is a unit of measurement equaling 3/4 of an inch.
The night before the opening of the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, Infiniti invited media to check out its new crossover darling: the 2017 QX30.
Calling it a crossover might be a stretch as the new model is but a mere 0.75-inches taller than the Q30 (which is 0.75-inches taller than the Q30 S) on which it’s based. Same with calling it an Infiniti, as anyone who’s spent time in a Mercedes-Benz GLA will attest. Daimler touches are everywhere.
“But,” said Roland Krüger, president of Nissan’s luxury marque, “once you drive it, you’ll immediately know it’s an Infiniti.”
What Krüger means by that is very much open to interpretation. However, differentiating the newest compact crossover from that of its frenemy is paramount to making it successful.
Confirming their June confirmation, Infiniti will bring a production-ready version of their compact Q30 to the International Frankfurt Motor Show in September.
The compact, which will be built in the United Kingdom, powered by the same 2.0-liter, turbo four that powers the Mercedes GLA and CLA under a joint agreement between Mercedes and Renault-Nissan.
The related compact crossover QX30 shouldn’t be far behind.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Jwee I think it is short sighted and detrimental to the brand. The company should be generous to its locked-in user base, treating them as a resource, not a revenue stream.This is what builds any good relationship, generosity to the other partner. Apple does with their products. My iPhone is 5 years old, but I keep getting the latest and greatest updates for free, which makes me feel valued as a customer and adds actual value. When it is time for a new phone, Apple past treatment towards me certainly plays into my decisions (as did BMW's - so long subscription extracting pigs, its been a great 20 years). Imagine how much good will and love (and good press) Polestar would get from their user base if they gave them all a "68 fresh horses" update overnight, for free. Brand loyalty would soar (provided their car is capable).
- ToolGuy If I had some space I would offer $800 and let the vehicle sit at my place as is. Then when anyone ever asked me, "Have you ever considered owning a VW?" I would say "Yes."
- ToolGuy In the example in the linked article an automated parking spot costs roughly 3% of the purchase price of the property. If I were buying such a property, I would likely purchase two parking spots to go with it, and I'm being completely serious.(Speaking of ownership vs. subscription, the $150 monthly maintenance fee would torque me off a lot more than the initial acquisition cost.)
- ToolGuy "which will be returned as refunds to citizens of the state" - kind of like the Alaska Permanent Fund? Make the amount high enough and I will gladly move to California to take advantage (my family came close to moving there when I was a teen, and oodles of people have moved from CA to my state, so I'm happy to return the favor).Note to California: You probably do not want me as a citizen.
- ToolGuy Nice torque figure.