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Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

Infiniti, perhaps empowered by the fact that the hard work underneath had already been done, has been rather bold with the Q30’s exterior.

This approach is to be applauded, with the design of premium family hatches in general having sunk to a benign and unassuming level. So even with this decidedly Euro-focused model, the Japanese car maker has imported what it considers to be its own muscular aesthetic, sacrificing the depth of its rear glass in the pursuit of a coupé-like silhouette, despite the car’s naturally upright stance.

Infiniti uses Mercedes’ front-wheel drive architecture, so the Q30 has a transverse-mounted engine

The result, which vividly illuminates the perils of being bold in this area, is that half of our testers professed to be fond of the Q30, while the other half considered its many angles an overwrought hatchet job compared with its Mercedes template. C’est la vie.

Infiniti must have thought it was on safer ground with the chassis. But the A-Class’s problem, trumpeted from the rooftops at its debut, was that it rode in an uncompromising fashion.

While sticking with the same layout of front MacPherson struts and a multi-link rear, the Q30’s engineers reportedly laboured through 50 variations of bump and rebound damper rates before seizing upon a setting. But Infiniti’s use of adjectives such as ‘forgiving’ and ‘comfortable’ leave the reader in no doubt about in which direction their idea of a premium hatch ought to go.

That said, the manufacturer has left itself some dynamic wiggle room. Single-minded drivers may still opt for the Sport model, which, although expensive, gets a ride lowered by 20mm and a more tacked-down dynamic.

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Either way, the Q30 is steered via a speed-sensitive, electromechanical rack (also a Mercedes donor part) and powered by either a 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine (available in 120bhp and 154bhp guises) or one of two diesels: a 108bhp 1.5-litre unit or a 168bhp 2.1.

The range is topped by a 208bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit, the bigger brother of the 1.6, sharing the same piezo direct injection and die-cast aluminium crankcase.

Mercedes’ seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is doubtless the gearbox Infiniti feels best suits its chosen image, although the six-speed manual, as tested, is the standard option for the majority of Q30s. All-wheel drive is available with larger engines and higher trims but comes exclusively with the dual-clutch ’box.