It’s hard to miss the Infiniti Q30 waiting for me at the start of its six-month residency at Autocar.
The Moonlight White, slightly raised premium hatchback certainly stands out from its rivals as a bit of a looker – a mass of creases and flame surfacing in a multi-storey car park full of Germanic conservatism.
We gave the Q30 a promising but not class-leading three and a half stars when we road tested it earlier this year – not bad for a company with Infiniti’s diminutive stature in the UK. But in the marque’s ambition to boost its size from the 2813 sales that its entire range had accrued in 2016 by the end of November, the Q30 will be a key player. In the same period, Audi racked up more than 14 times this number of sales just with the A3, the UK’s best-selling premium hatch of this size.
So I have the not insignificant task of figuring out if the Q30 deserves the same, or at least a healthier chunk, of this market. The on-the-road price of our car is £33,500. Gulp. That’s less than £1000 shy of an automatic Audi S3 Sportback – one reason why the Q30 isn’t outselling the A3.
In Premium Tech Intouch spec – the highest-spec Q30 there is – it has the goods to go with the looks, though. Starting at the front, it’s fitted with LED auto-levelling headlights, which, from my experience so far, are as sharp as you’d want them to be, as well as LED foglights. Naturally, for a car of this class, the headlights are automatic, with automatic full beam if you choose to activate it.
The door mirrors house puddle lamps and are heated, electrically adjustable and folding, as well as housing around-view cameras, courtesy of an £1800 Safety Pack. Let’s hope that no inconsiderate soul knocks one of those off; I’m sure they aren’t cheap to replace.
The Safety Pack also includes a blindspot warning system, automatic park assistance and adaptive cruise control – a considerable technological leap over the relatively conventional cruise control, automatic wipers and simple reversing camera with parking sensors of my old Ssangyong Tivoli, although the Infiniti is nearly twice the price. The Q30 has the auto wipers, camera and sensors, too.
Premium Tech spec gets a leather-trimmed cabin and a synthetic suede headlining over the one-step-down Premium spec, as well as keyless entry. Both Premium and Premium Tech cars have heated seats with lumbar adjustment, and our Q30 adds electrically adjustable front seats with three memory settings, a rear armrest and a ski hatch. The Intouch part of the car’s specification, meanwhile, brings a complex satellite navigation system, DAB radio and traffic sign recognition.
Our Q30 is fitted with a 2.2-litre diesel engine, a seven-speed dualclutch automatic gearbox and noise cancelling technology aimed at suppressing the sound of the engine. Infiniti’s claimed combined fuel consumption figure is 64.2mpg. Given the Q30’s 50-litre fuel tank, filling up should be an infrequent occurrence. We shall see.
Euro NCAP rated the Q30 as the safest small family car back in March and it’s clear to see why. On our car, there are seven airbags, lane departure warning, a tyre pressure monitor and a raft of behind-the-scenes driver aids such as forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive brake assist. The last of these applies the correct amount of force if it senses insufficient braking, but not so much as to cause a rearend collision. Suffice to say that six months after suffering a serious car accident, I find that these features provide abundant peace of mind.
This, as a strength, is a good starting point. What the Q30 needs to do to gain ground on premium hatch favourites, though, is a fairly long list, and merit in this segment certainly reflects the sales quantities. Considering the Q30 scored the same at the hands of our testers as the BMW 1 Series, Mini Clubman and Volvo V40 – the fifth, fourth and third-placed cars in the Q30’s segment respectively – Infiniti isn’t far off the mark with its inaugural hatch.
Infiniti’s parent company, Nissan, has applied some wizardry to make the Qashqai consistently one of the UK’s favourite cars, and the underpinnings of the Q30 are from the Mercedes-Benz A-Class – Mercedes being the newly declared largest premium car maker in the world – so the next six months will reveal whether the Q30 has been sprinkled with the same fairy dust.
How I’ll find this out during my time with the Q30 will vary. A large family – from infants to 6ft 4in uncles – will put its passenger space through its paces, and with this mix comes a glut of gear to fit into its boot. A weekly motorway mooch will get the long-distance pleasantries out of the way, and a daily crawling urban commute has been taken in the Q30’s stride, if slightly hurting its fuel economy early on. Colder mornings mean a colder engine, so the Q30’s stop-start won’t kick in before I’m halfway to the office. Darn.
Aside from this, the Q30 has been fit for purpose in the purest sense of the phrase. My mostly solitary trips haven’t even tickled the Q30’s capability, but with the prospect of a decidedly upmarket new car titillating potential passengers and a glut of family functions and errands around the corner, my list of requirements for the Q30 has increased tenfold. I’ll let you know in the coming months how it gets on.
INFINITI Q30 2.2D PREMIUM TECH INTOUCH DCT
Price £31,700 Price as tested £33,500 Options Moonlight White paint £670, Safety Pack £1800 Economy 40.9mpg Faults None Expenses None