What is it?
Infiniti’s growth in the UK has been fairly glacial, but the Infiniti Q30 could be the car to inject some urgency into its upward trajectory.
Built in Sunderland on the underpinnings of a Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Infiniti Q30 is the new offering from Nissan’s premium branch, tasked with battling for sales in the hotly contested premium hatchback segment.
The test car we drove looks like one of the better bets in the range for private buyers, with a petrol engine and automatic transmission. The same basic engine is available with a manual transmission, but opting for the the auto brings a power hike to the tune of 34bhp, which takes it to our car's 154bhp.
However, with prices starting from £23,600, the Q30 counts cars such as the Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 among its rivals, which is a tough starting point, before you even step inside.
What's it like?
When you do get behind the wheel, you’re met with a smart interior. Closer inspection uncovers a mix of quality, from plush-feeling leather on the dash to cheaper-feeling switchgear, but generally it’s good throughout.
If there's a disappointment inside, it's the infotainment system. It’s complicated to operate and not logically laid out, with a confusing selection of shortcut buttons and a fiddly rotary dial. The Q30 is fairly well equipped, with a 7.0in touchscreen (albeit with a pretty poor resolution), Bluetooth and a USB connection as standard, but adding sat-nav is a pricey £1400 extra, and that’s the only way to access DAB radio. Ultimately, it’s a poor system that can’t hold a candle to those of its competitors.
Elsewhere inside, our SE Business Edition car offered supportive front seats with lots of adjustment and plenty of room for those in the front, although space is more paltry in the rear and boot space and practicality is also average for the class.
This 1.6 feels suitably strong and has no problem slugging it up to motorway speeds from a rolling start. Its sub-9.0sec 0-62mph time tells you it’s fairly brisk but not blistering and there's some noticeable turbo lag to work around, but on the whole it's a pleasing companion. It does become raspy under heavy acceleration, but it won’t bother you much at motorway speeds. There is, however, quite a lot of road noise in the cabin.
The steering doesn’t offer much feedback and the nose will wash wide if you chuck the Q30 into a corner with too much confidence. However, it offers a largely compliant ride, particularly at higher speeds.
The seven-speed automatic gearbox is generally good at judging shifts for itself, but it can be caught out on kick downs when you plant your right foot. In Sport mode it holds on to gears longer - often too long - but you can take matters into your own hands by selecting manual mode and using the Q30's paddles instead.
Should I buy one?
The Q30 is a respectable option in a tough class, and it will certainly boost Infiniti's presence in the UK. Ultimately it’s held back by its hefty price and premium ambitions, but if you’re after a quirky alternative to the German status quo and driving engagement isn’t your top priority then it’s worth a look.