2016 INFINITI QX30 REVIEW

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The new Infiniti QX30 sits on the same platform as the Infiniti Q30 we recently reported on, but is 35 mm higher and has a more aggressive appearance. It’s part hatchback, part SUV, with a solid touch of coupe in its shape. It shares some of its underpinnings with the Merc – the automotive world is a strange place at times.

Interestingly, the Australian-market Infiniti QX30 is assembled in the Nissan / Infiniti plant in England, which makes sense because they drive on the ‘proper’ side of the road in the UK. However, it still has the blinker lever on the wrong side for Australia, that is on the right, not left.

The Infiniti QX30 comes only in two grades at this stage: the 2.0t GT with a recommended retail of $48,900 and the QX30 2.0t GT Premium at $56,900. On-road costs have to be added, though in today’s tough market the dealer may be able to absorb some of these to get a sale. All you have to do is ask.

STYLING
Though Japanese Infiniti likes to make its own way in styling, it’s not European, not Japanese, not anything, really, just Infiniti. We like the brave attitude that shows.

The QX30 is almost a coupe in the styling direction, rather than station wagon. We particularly like the treatment of the C-pillars with their interesting angles and trim details.

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As befits its mild off-road ability this small-medium SUV has plastic protection panels around the edges of the wheelarches. The double-arch grille with three-dimensional mesh makes a real statement. The strongly styled double-wave bonnet is formed from aluminium. The low roofline and rear pillars blend neatly into the showy looks of the tail.

There was no shortage of looks when passers-buy or other driver saw this machine.

Infiniti QX30’s GT Premium has18-inch alloy wheels with a five double-spoke ‘snowflake’ design. Low profile 235/50 tyres add to the sporty, purposeful appearance.

The interior is upmarket, with premium materials throughout; beige nappa leather in our Premium test car. Also standard in the Premium is suede-like Dinamica on the headlining and genuine wood inserts in the door panels and centre console.

INFOTAINMENT
The Infiniti InTouch infotainment system, installed in both QX30 models, has a 7.0-inch touchscreen displaying in-vehicle satellite navigation and Infiniti’s useful InTouch apps.

A Bose Premium audio system with 10 speakers, subwoofer and CD/MP3/WMA compatibility sounds stunning. The standard-fitment Bluetooth phone system provides audio streaming and has voice recognition.

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ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Infiniti QX30 has a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine producing 155 kW of power and 350 Nm of torque. It drives through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It has what Infiniti calls Intelligent All-Wheel Drive that usually drives only the front wheels. It can send up to 50 per cent of the power to the rear axle to maintain traction on slippery surfaces.

If wheel slip is detected by sensors, braking is applied to the slipping wheel, while torque is sent to the gripping wheel for additional stability. Particular useful if driving fast on unfamiliar roads.

SAFETY
The new QX30 is equipped with a long list of safety features, including forward collision warning, forward emergency braking and sophisticated vehicle dynamic control. There are seven airbags, including a knee ‘bag to protect the driver. The small Infiniti is yet to be crash tested, but it’s anticipated it will receive a full five-star rating.

DRIVING
There are eight-way power adjustable front seats, which can be tailored even more by using the four-way power-operated lumbar support. Heated, though not cooled, front seats are part of the package.

The front seats feel good and provide decent support for normal driving. High-cornering power would probably leave them wanting a little, but that’s not likely to be the way this Infiniti is treated.

The rear seat is a bit lacking in headroom due to the coupe-style roof. Legroom in the rear is lacking if those in the front need their seats back for comfort. My six-foot frame couldn’t sit behind myself (if that makes sense!). Three adults in the back is possible, but it’s best if they area is left to the kids if you’re doing trips of any duration.

We appreciated the glass roof, which could be well shaded during the 30+ degrees of Queensland sunshine during our test period. Come the evening we really appreciated the view to the heavens.

Boot size is a good 430 litres and is easy to load. The seat folds flat in 60/40 sections when you need added volume.

There’s a ski hatch in the Premium model but not the GT. Due to the fitment of the subwoofer under the boot floor there are no real secure spots under there.

Extensive use of sound-absorbent materials reduces the intrusion of wind, road and engine noise and makes for pleasingly quiet long distance travel. Further adding to the luxury feel and sound is that the audio system includes Active Sound Control that does its best to cancel exterior sound frequencies if they enter the cabin.

Engine performance from the turbo-petrol in our test Infiniti QX30 was sluggish on takeoff but okay once the car was up and running. That’s in the Economy setting. Moving to Sport mode certainly improved things, but it spent far too much time in the lower gears, seeming to enjoy close to 3000 revs even when coasting along in major suburban roads. Heaven knows what that was doing to our fuel consumption so we stuck in E mode most of the time.

Even in Economy the QX30 was using seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres, which we feel should have been lower. Around town it rose to nine to eleven litres.

The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic works well and, unlike some of its type, it’s happy to move at very slow speeds in tight parking situations.

Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters give the driver manual overrides, or the system can give you a full-manual mode.

The intelligent cruise control worked nicely and engine stop-start was all but imperceptible.

Handling is perfectly acceptable, though not really in the sports SUV class. There plenty of road grip, but we would prefer more feel to the steering. Obviously, that’s a personal thing, but add it to the list of things you want to try in your personal road test.

Most of our trip was done on typical SUV surfaces – that is normal sealed roads. We did take it onto dirt tracks for a while, where the ride remained good and the car was still quiet.

SUMMING UP
Stylish, smooth, sporty in its looks, Infiniti is certainly worth a look if you’re shopping around in the Audi, BMW and Merc section of the market. The Japanese QX30 offers added equipment at lower prices than the Germans, but hasn’t reached lofty heights in the prestige stakes at this stage.

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