The Infiniti Q30 perfects key features taken from German supergiants while serving as a sporty and luxurious sports-hatch, finds Alvin Thomas.
Is it a hatchback? Is it a crossover? I can never be too sure. However, what I do know is that the Infiniti Q30, despite a split-personality, is a serious contender in the luxury cross-hatch segment.
Despite its elevated looks and mellow-looking “Moonlight White” paint job, I quite fancy the exterior when compared to other hatchback offerings from Japan.
There’s a definite touch of class and refinement to the exterior, with dramatic-looking lines and a wide stance that elevates its presence into the prestigious hot-hatchback territory.
Even the lights look menacing, with their two-prong effect LED lighting and their chiselled edges, which further blend in with the Q30’s three-dimensional grille upfront.
Overall, the car really pulls it off in the looks department: there is really nothing conventional here in terms of design.
However, I had a certain sense of déjà vu from the moment I hopped into the car.
Everything from the dials on the console, the buttons, the instrument cluster and the light switches looked familiar.
And that’s when it hit me: The Infiniti Q30 is the love-child from Nissan’s new venture with Daimler, which means the Q30 is essentially based on a Mercedes-Benz A-Class – a car I really love!
The fit and finish is truly top-notch, and the overall aura in the cabin is pre-eminent.
Considering the Q30 is based on the A-Class, the car can seat five people in comfort, and also carry three full-sized bags in the generous boot.
As a blessing, my “Premium Tech” variant also came with a panoramic moonroof, an excellent and necessary “Around-View Monitor”, as well as a host of safety tech, including “Lane Departure Warning”, “Automatic Parking Assistance” and also “Intelligent Cruise Control”, which automatically adjusts the speed, all the way to a complete stop, in traffic.
Starting the car, I was greeted with a very Mercedes-esque information dial on the instrument cluster, except, you now have Infiniti logos in them.
Nevertheless, I delved straight into the driving dynamics of the Q30.
To test the car’s chassis and powertrain, I took the car to the mountain roads at Al Amerat Heights.
Underneath the curvaceous bonnet lies a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder pot banger pumping out 208hp and a stout 350 Nm of torque.
The engine is extremely potent, and is mated to an evenly matched, seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The gearshifts are super-snappy, and the turbocharged engine makes it a breeze to drive up the steep slopes at Al Amerat.
Of course, when you floor it, there’s a slight lag (distinctive of turbocharged vehicles) for the turbo to spool up and get you going. But the power generated is a tad too much for the front wheels to cope with.
Wheelspin was a common occurrence during the course of the test drive. To eliminate that, you can opt for the all-wheel drive variant, which I suspect will deal with the power more effectively.
For all that, I could still manage to hit the 100kp/h mark from a standstill in an impressive eight seconds.
As an added treat, I found the electric-assisted hydraulic steering on the Q30 to be extremely precise. It’s one of those point-and-shoot cars, thanks to a very spirited chassis (thank you, Mercedes).
The steering is extremely light during city driving, and firms up slightly when you switch the vehicle into “S” (Sport) or “M” (Manual) mode.
There’s no real feedback from the steering but that’s not a problem at all. The car eagerly changes directions, and with only minimal body-roll. However, it does suffer from snap understeer (typical with front-wheel drive cars), as the vehicle tends to plough forwards when you floor the accelerator while changing directions.
The seats are extremely comfortable, and are moderately bolstered. The ride is very smooth and hushed too, with only a hint of road noise entering the cabin.
After spending time with the Q30, I realise that all my initial impressions of the car bearing too much resemblance to the Mercedes A-Class were wrong.
While the A-Class is one of the best hot-hatchbacks around, the Q30 borrows all the best characteristics from the Germans but boasts its own brilliant exterior and a top-of-the-line interior to do what the Infiniti does best: hold its own as one of Japan’s finest luxury cars!