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In an attempt to continue its growth in the UK, Infiniti is launching this new premium hatch. We drive the range-topping AWD diesel
29 October 2015

What is it?

The Q30 is a new upmarket hatchback from self-professed premium brand Infiniti and a model the manufacturer is hoping will continue its growing sales momentum in the UK.

To give some context, the Q30 is slightly longer, wider and taller than the Mercedes A-Class with which it shares some of its platform. Infiniti's pricing puts the Q30 up against some strong premium competition, such as Audi's A3, BMW's 1 Series and the aforementioned A-Class.

It's really the range-topping versions of these rivals that our Q30 test car is targeting, with its 168bhp 2.1-litre diesel engine, four-wheel drive system and dual-clutch automatic gearbox offering a powertrain comparable with that of Audi's higher-powered A3 2.0 TDI quattro S tronic and Mercedes' A220d 4Matic DCT. 

What's it like?

If you've had any experience of a Mercedes A220d, there are similarities from the point of view of performance, refinement and interior touches. The 2.1-litre diesel pulls from usefully low revs and the Q30's seven-speed dual-clutch transmission goes about searching for the most potent bands pretty well when left to go its own thing. Manual paddle changes aren't the sharpest, even with the gearbox set to Sport, but ultimately they give you greater control. 

Push hard and you'll know about it, with a pronounced diesel grumble towards 3000rpm and some vibration through the wheel and pedals. At motorway speeds, the standard 18in wheels kick up a fair bit of tyre roar and there is noticeable wind noise around the A-pillars and front side windows, although the engine has settled down by this point. 

Where the Q30 trumps the A-Class is on ride quality, with Infiniti's engineers apparently investigating more than 50 damper settings and spending time making sure lighter and heavier engines in the range get bespoke settings to achieve a decent level of comfort across the range. 

Sure, the largest, sharpest potholes still cause some shudder through the body, but for the most part the Q30's dampers and standard large-profile tyres manage to get it across broken surfaces and expansion joints without unsettling those onboard. The only grievance is the amount of thumping heard in the cabin as it does so. 

The Q30 can't claim to mix with the dynamic leaders of the class, either. There's decent grip, with up to 50% of the power available to the rear axle should the front wheels wash wide or lose traction, and Infiniti has crafted an evenly weighted (if rather heavy) steering system. Front-end responses never feel sharp, dulled further by those large-profile tyres, and the Q30's body tends to lean further than the class's most agile occupants in corners.

Inside, there's good space for two tall adults in the front seats and plenty of adjustment for the driver, even if the driver's seat provides too little lateral support. The rear seats are far more cramped, forcing adult knees into the backrests in front and forcing a middle passnger to contend with little shoulder or foot space. Adults will find the sides of their heads touching the protruding ceiling above the rear window, which itself tapers to quite a claustrophobic depth. 

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Boot space rivals the class best, though, and living with its square shape and decent access won't present many problems. It's a shame that there's no adjustable floor and that the underfloor space is limited. Overall, though, this is one of the Q30's best interior assets. 

In part, interior quality deserves praise, too. The upper sections of the dash, the door cards and the dash and door trim inlays are soft to the touch and the metallic bits are suitably stout. However, the plastics further down the dash and centre console are less convincing, and being forced to embrace a lot of Mercedes' electronics and switchgear isn't good for perceived quality. 

Inifiniti's own infotainment system is hard to get excited about, too. The standard 7.0in colour touchscreen can also be controlled using a rotary dial and shortcut buttons between the front seats, and DAB radio, Bluetooth and voice control feature on every model. Screen graphics are sharp, but the system lacks the responsiveness or latest connectivity apps of its best rivals, while the clunky sat-nav is a £1400 option even on our mid-range Premium Tech car. 

Still, Premium Tech trim does include features such as leather seats, climate control, keyless entry, a rear-view camera, two USB ports and, like all Q30s in the range, city braking technology as standard. 

Should I buy one?

There's far more reason to consider a Q30 over its competition that any other Infiniti to date. Subject to confirmation in the UK, the Q30 has a reasonably comfortable ride, while its cabin feels largely high in quality and there's a good level of equipment on Premium Tech trim, apart from absence of standard sat-nav.

Infiniti buyers are often investigating something with distinct style outside the staple German brands, and compared directly with Mercedes' A220d AMG Line 4Matic DCT, there are genuine reasons why you might throw your hard-earned at the Q30 instead.

Even so, it's hard to ignore the fact that an equivalent Audi A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI is around £2500 cheaper to buy, considerably faster, just as clean and fuel efficient and better equipped while also feeling higher in quality inside and more engaging and refined to drive. 

Infiniti Q30 2.2d Premium Tech AWD DCT 

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Location Lisbon, Portugal; On sale Jan 2016; Price £31,180; Engine 4 cyls, 2143cc, diesel; Power 168bhp at 3400-4000rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1400-3400rpm; 0-60mph 8.5sec; Top speed 134mph; Kerb weight 1598kg; Gearbox 7-spd dual-clutch automatic; Economy 57.7mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 127g/km, 23%

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spqr 3 November 2015

Re Addy T

Agree completely it is not just VW Group lying to the regulators and the public. I fully expect that other German and European manufacturers are going to get found out soon, probably by the US authorities as the EU is effectively useless. As for betting on whether diesel is still around, as clearly stated, Bloomberg are suggesting diesel will be on its way out as a fuel for PASSENGER vehicles within 5 years. The reasoning seems to be that it is not just a motoring issue, though the engines will pollute more and give worse performance and economy that customers are led to believe. The real issue is the public health problem that diesels are specifically alleged to be causing. Sooner or later , and Bloomberg think sooner, diesels will be seen as unsafe for use by the general public. Dieselgate could actually have done everyone a big favour.
spqr 30 October 2015

Hmmm...

The Audi A3 2.0 TDi is "cleaner" according to Autocar. Really? have they heard about the VW Dieselgate scandal and the fallout from it? Even if the latest Audi A3 TDis use the EU6 compliant engine the studies have shown that it still produces far more pollution in real world use than it is allowed to, it just does not use a defeat device to pass the tests. The life expectancy of diesel as a fuel for passenger cars is looking very limited. According to Bloomberg it may be less than 5 years before it is no longer a viable fuel. In the meantime the public are being asked to pay £30000+ for a diesel hatchbacks that will look like dinosaurs by the time the PCP is at an end.
reckless fox 30 October 2015

5 year life for Diesel

Hmm indeed spqr - I'll offer you a bet - that diesel will still be a viable fuel in 10 years (not just 5 like your comment) and will offer you two to one odds on any bet you'd care to make on this. If diesel is withdrawn I'll pay out, otherwise you pay up in 10 years when diesel is still going.
AddyT 30 October 2015

Small Profit Quick Return..

Small Profit Quick Return...do you think the VW Group are the only ones producing real world pollution figures that are higher than printed? Think again...
xxxx 30 October 2015

Options and price

How very dare they, 'clunky sat-nav is a £1400 option', that's like more than twice as much as the Audi A3 option. Although in it's defence I do think alot of posters are missing points like this is 4 wheel drive which affects mpg considerabliy and adds about £1,800 to the price and the leather adds about £1,000, auto box another £1,200. Still overpriced though

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