In some respects the Q30 is a familiar beast, yet in others it’s quite different. Firing the diesel into life brings a familiar rumble to the cabin, one that can get loud once you pass 3000rpm. At a cruise, however, the Mercedes unit is much more subdued than it is in other recipients of this powerplant.
Active sound cancellation may help quieten the engine but it can’t hide the tyre roar and wind noise around the A-pillars. At least there’s plenty of poke, even from low revs. We can wholly believe the claimed 8.5sec 0-62mph sprint time, while the standard seven speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox makes good choices of ratio. Manual shifts are a little tardy even in Sport mode, however.
We tried the Q30 in both Premium Tech and Sport variants, the latter bringing racier styling and a 15mm suspension drop with 7% stiffer springs. The Premium Tech variant proved comfortable, although it displayed with more body roll than you might expect. Grip is good, with the front predictably letting go before the rear, which makes for stable if unexciting progress.
Sport models roll less but aren’t as comfortable; the stiffer springs mean you feel more of the road, although its bigger 19in wheels don’t help. It’s no more exciting to drive, but then this isn’t exactly a hot hatch wannabe. Instead, think more Audi S line and you’re about there. As for the steering, tall tyres blunt the response and it’s heavier than you might expect.
Climb into the driver’s seat and there’s plenty of space even for the loftiest of occupants. Both the steering wheel and seat have plenty of adjustment, although the chairs could hold you better during keen cornering.
Initial impressions of quality are good, with plenty of squidgy plastics, tasteful trims and classy bits of metal. Further investigation reveals hard, unyielding plastic, but to be fair, it’s all fairly well hidden. The infotainment system looks nice enough but isn’t as easy to use as the best systems. Sat-nav is a £1400 option on most trim levels and isn’t the easiest to follow.
Depending on their stature, rear seat occupants may not be quite so happy as those in the front. There’s not a great deal of glass back there, while grown-ups will find their head brushing the ceiling and knees jammed up against the front seats. Overall, it’s pretty claustrophobic.