Slowly, if not yet altogether surely, Infiniti is getting warmer. Two years ago, after the Q50’s launch, the idea that it might one day come up with a new car good enough to truly threaten Europe’s premium automotive brands was far-fetched; today, it’s just a touch more believable.

While hardly outstanding, the Q30 is credible. Its performance and refinement are respectable and its ride and handling are rounded, so it has substance to back up the style. Interior space and running costs are disappointing, but perhaps not punitively so for every owner.

Respectable, although still not the stuff on which brands are built

What the Q30 doesn’t do is shed light on the kind of car we should expect that breakthrough Infiniti to be – should it ever come.

Those drawn to the brand for its alternative appeal may well find the Q30’s relationship to its Mercedes sister models too close for comfort.

But for those ignorant of, or untroubled by, the connection, the Q30 is at least a departure from the mainstream.

Overall though, the Infiniti Q30 falls short of our top five with the BMW i3, 1 Series, Audi A3 Sportback, Volvo V40 and Mini Clubman all better packages, but Infiniti can close the gap by making the interior look like their own creation rather than borrowing Mercedes.

Also refining the Q30’s control weights and responses to give a premium feel through every major driver interaction, along with increasing the front and rear head room.

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