Infiniti Q30's luxe appeal

The Infiniti Q30 drives and rides like a luxury car.
The Infiniti Q30 drives and rides like a luxury car.PHOTO: INFINITI
The Infiniti Q30 drives and rides like a luxury car.
The Infiniti Q30 drives and rides like a luxury car.PHOTO: INFINITI

Infiniti's new Q30 offers much in terms of looks and exclusivity

Infiniti calls the new Q30 an "active compact" - a body style wedged between a hatchback and a crossover. Fancy labels aside, it is hard to deny it is a pretty little thing - arguably prettier than its rivals in the premium compact segment, including the Audi A3 Sportback, BMW 1-series and Mercedes-Benz A-class.

Because it shares the same underpinnings, engines and components as the Merc A-class, comparisons between the two are inevitable. The Q30 even shares the same bits inside. The car's switchgear, instrument cluster, control stalks, steering wheel buttons, parking brake and gear knob (from the A45 AMG) are taken right out of the Merc parts bin.

The cabin quality is comparable to Infiniti's Q50 compact executive sedan, but its layout is heaps more modern and classy.

Infotainment-wise, the Q30 boasts a 7-inch touchscreen which can also be controlled via a swivel wheel on the centre console. It is not the slickest system in terms of graphics and intuitiveness, but is still fairly easy to use.

The luxury arm of Nissan knows that aesthetics and features alone will not convert fans of the German Big Three, so it has spent considerable effort in ensuring that the Q30 drives and rides like a luxury car. Apparently, 50 different suspension variations were tested before the final setup.

  • INFINITI Q30 AWD SPORT

    Price: To be announced

    Engine: 1,991cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch with paddle shift

    Power: 208bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 350Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 7.3 seconds

    Top speed: 230kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6.7 litres/100km

    Agent: Wearnes Automotive

From the get-go, it is clear that Infiniti has fixed what Merc could not offer with the A-class - a well-sorted, comfortable ride.

The Q30 is composed and pliant on the move, even with the Sport variant's 15mm lower ride height and stiffer springs.

At motorway speeds, it has little you can find fault with inside. Other than slight wind noise from the side mirrors at higher speeds, the cabin is relatively quiet and there is enough torque and response from the 208bhp 2-litre Mercedes engine for swift overtaking, even if gearshifts from the seven-speed transmission are a bit slow.

Take it around a corner and the Q30 tries its best to show that it is not just tuned for comfort. The four-wheel-drive variant responds admirably to driver input. It turns without fuss and carries on through the bend with little correction, aided by consistent, predictable steering and minimal body roll.

A VW Golf GTI is more fun and engaging, but I suspect the Q30 is every bit as quick as the German hot hatch down a twisty road.

The car does have its weaknesses. The seats, for instance, while designed to reduce fatigue by being ergonomically sculpted, fall awkwardly short in the lower cushion region. And while rear legroom is acceptable, headroom might be scarce for taller passengers even with the lower-than-usual rear bench.

Boot space is the most generous in its class, at 368 litres.

The car's biggest weakness could well be its price. In Britain, the car costs more than a Mercedes A250.

It is unlikely to be cheap when it arrives in Singapore in the second half of next year. But to some, its svelte looks, capable handling and comfy ride will be worth it.

•The writer is a contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Luxe appeal'. Print Edition | Subscribe