Infiniti’s high-spec Audi A3 rival has six months to convince us that it deserves a bigger share of the premium hatchback market

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

Our Verdict

Infiniti Q30

Infiniti looks to a premium hatch to make its breakthrough in Europe

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Comments
10

21 March 2017
Yet another car with a fake rear quarter light, this time in the form of an exaggerated made-up shape - styling over design. Very poor.

21 March 2017
Nice looking car but seems pricey to me. Admittedly, it is top of the range.

21 March 2017
All of the toys described here are available in the Toyota Auris for £10000 less than this car and the ride is so quiet it doesn't need a noise suppressant system.So, is this the price to pay for a "premium " badge ? Indeed, the Excel hybrid version can be bought on line for £21000 and will give 50+ m.p.g. effortlessly.

Ratho1

21 March 2017
Don't know what it's like to be a motoring journalist but if my boss said to me your next car is going to be an Infinity Q30, I'd be a tad disappointed. In this day and age, loading a car with electrics and tricks doesn't count for much as it's available on nearly every darn car out there.

I note how parallels are drawn to Mercedes A Class (which only impresses the Hyacinth Buckets amongst us) but at the end of the day, it's a £33,500 Datsun. The number of Q30's we see on the road speaks volumes which begs the question why road test a car for 6 months that nobody wants?

21 March 2017
"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."

Not if it looks like an overstyled mangamobile and exhibits the driving dynamics of a soaked sponge. Infiniti has always lagged so far behind its rivals it's a wonder how Nissan hasn't canned the brand yet. Please autocar, don't waste column inches on sub-par, irrelevant cars such as these.

21 March 2017
Based on Autocar pictures the car looks nice from the front as well as rear and does bear fairly strong resemblance to the A-Class that it's based on. Going by the Autocar account it is crammed full of equipment befitting a NASA space craft but what about the squidgy plastics in unreachable areas that most car reviewers rave about these days and often base their rating on? Infiniti deserves a fair share of the market and I agree that it's rather high price could be hindering its sales ambition unless Infiniti bosses confuse "premium" with exclusive which is hardly the case at this level as evidenced by Audi sales figures by the Autocar.

21 March 2017
I bet you would get £5k off easy - a few have leased these - not this spec - for about £159 a month. Total cost over 2 years of about £6k.

I doubt you would get a VW etc for that.

However I did look at this car and for me the boot was too small - took my daughters bike with us - aprreciate she uses it about 12 times a year but if the car is too small for us now - my daughter is only going to get bigger! (keep my cars at least 5 years).

21 March 2017
"£159 a month 6k over 2 years", shouldn't that be £3800 over 2 years??????

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

21 March 2017
This is widely regarded to be one of the worst cars on sale - a Mercedes A Class without the badge or looks, an ugly dash and even worse dynamics. This report seems rather generous...

22 March 2017
Reading the comments so far, I have a couple of comments.
The reason parallels are made to the A Class is that the Q30 is based upon the A-class platform. So it is much less a 33k Datsun than a 33k Lexus is a Toyota, or a 33k Audi is a Skoda.
I suspect one of the reasons you do not see many Q30s on the road is that there are only a small number of dealers, and the Infiniti brand is still very small in the UK. Let's see what the verdict is after 6 months as was written in the article.
Regarding the price, mechanically it is equivalent to an A220D, so an AMG line A220d, with leather seats, park assist and so on as close as you can get from a specification point of view is over £33k before on the road charges. So on price it seems to be competitive.
A well known monthly magazine stated ride and handling was better than the A-class.
As to the comparison to the Auris, the interior of the Auris is not a patch on the Q30 and you could get a Q30 for the same price or less than the Auris, just without some of the bells and whistles the Autocar vehicle has.
JS

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