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Steering, suspension and comfort

The Q30’s driving experience neatly avoids the chief pitfall that its design brief laid in its path by seeming entirely normal.

Take a look at the car in profile and you won’t believe that it rides on 18in wheels, such is the quantity of fresh air between the tops of the 50-profile tyres and the wheel arch metalwork above.

Long-travel suspension makes the Q30 squat quite hard through the compression and the damping is only so-so

But while the loping ride begins to betray the length of suspension spring necessary to deliver the car’s raised stance, the Q30’s handling actually disguises its elevated roll axis reasonably well.

The usual hallmarks of dynamic compromise are skilfully mitigated. In spite of a fairly moderate grip level, the Q30’s steering seems quite direct and responsive.

And although the body rolls a little farther than it might during hard cornering, that roll is checked long before it can have much effect on your intended path through a corner.

The upshot is that while you wouldn’t call the Q30 a desperately good-handling hatchback, you wouldn’t mark it out as a duffer either. Whether that’s a high enough dynamic standard to set for a premium brand that once encouraged us to think of it as Japan’s answer to BMW may be doubtful, but it’s certainly a qualified success for a car that, in principle, could have been much more dynamically compromised.

Viewed from the opposite vantage point, you’d have to concede that neither the Q30’s steering nor its close body control feels as sophisticated as that of the car’s best-handling compact premium rivals. Both an Audi A3 and a BMW 1 Series will feel notably more agile on the road, develop more grip through corners and generally be more diverting for a keener driver. That said, it remains to be seen how much more engaging a lower-riding, sport-sprung Q30 may be than our test car.

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Even in what could be generically described as ‘comfort’ spec, the Q30 conducts itself in a fairly neat and tidy fashion when you test its grip levels.

There’s just enough body roll on entry to a hard-charged corner to remind you of the car’s raised roll axis, but it quickly settles on its outside tyres and retains moderately high level of lateral grip.

Steering authority is good enough to allow you to tighten the car’s line without immediately triggering understeer, while cornering balance is good enough that you needn’t wait an age to begin feeding power back in.

Infiniti is also to be applauded for apparently putting the intrusive ESP system it might have inherited from Mercedes straight in the bin and fitting its own, which, although always on, is relatively subtle when reining in wheelspin and fairly progressive when tidying up sudden yaw movements.