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.