Infiniti QX30 review: better than an Audi Q3?

Infiniti QX30

So you want a small SUV, but you don’t want to follow the crowd. You don’t simply want to plump for the obvious choice of an Audi Q3, BMW X1 or Mercedes GLA. Instead, you’re looking for something a little more unusual; an individual choice. Enter the Infiniti QX30.

The what now? If you haven’t heard of Infiniti before, that’s understandable. The luxury offshoot of Nissan (think of it as Nissan’s version of Toyota’s Lexus brand) is relatively new to the UK – but it’s been selling cars with some success in the USA since 1989.

The QX30 – and its hatchback sibling, the Q30 – are the company’s strongest attempts yet to make inroads into the British market. The question is, are they good enough to steal buyers from the established competition? 

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Space – 5/10

Cramped rear seats and small apertures

It isn’t easy to get yourself into the back of the QX30, even if you’re of relatively modest stature. The door aperture is small and the low roofline means you’ll have to stoop your head low to avoid banging it as you climb in.

The same goes for the boot, which has a small aperture and a considerable lip, making loading larger items tricky.

Once inside, the rear seats aren’t particularly accommodating – stick to kids and you’ll be fine, but adults in the rear seats will find their heads brushing the roof and their shoulders rubbing against the sides of the car. 

Up front, things are better, though the QX30 never feels all that spacious. The footwells are quite small, meaning both driver and passenger have to have their seat pushed far back, exacerbating the lack of room in the rear. There isn’t an awful lot of room to stow odds and ends, either.

Comfort – 8/10

Good seats and a decent ride quality

The QX30 is based on the Mercedes GLA, and it rides in a similar way; it’s pretty compliant most of the time, and smooth enough around town, but it never settles down entirely, even on the motorway.

Fortunately the seats are fantastic, providing just the right blend of softness and support, which makes them very welcoming to climb into.

As cossetting as the QX30 feels, though, it’s impossible to escape its rather intrusive engine noise. The 2.2-litre diesel emits a constant clatter at a cruise and a grumble at idle, both of which rather spoil the relaxed ambience inside.

Dashboard Layout – 8/10

Feels high-quality

The QX30’s dash design is really rather handsome, with gently swooping lines, and a cascading centre console. The upholstered section in front of the passenger is a nice touch, and the whole thing feels tightly and robustly built.

The dials and colour display ahead of the driver are all crisp, clear and easy to read, making obtaining information from them the matter of a swift glance down.

However, Infiniti really needs to work on its central display software; the current system is slow, unresponsive and tricky to navigate, and it spoils an otherwise easy-to-use dashboard layout.

Easy to drive – 6/10

Easy-going controls, but visibility is a pain

Step into the QX30 and one of the first things you notice is that it actually has rather small, narrow windows, with wide, chunky frames.

The result of that is poor visibility – whether you’re at a junction, trying to park, or simply checking your blind spot, you always find yourself having to look twice.

Fortunately, you get rear parking sensors, which makes things a little easier, although front parking sensors only come on the top model.

There are other problems, too. While the steering is light and easy to turn, it doesn’t offer enough lock, which means the turning circle is very wide. That makes manoeuvring in tight spaces a chore.

And while every model comes with an automatic gearbox, which makes getting moving nice and easy, it can be sluggish to respond, especially in conjunction with the electronic parking brake, which takes an age to release itself automatically.

Autonomous Driving

The QX30 will not steer itself or change lanes autonomous, but it is available with an adaptive cruise control system that can slow down and speed up in relation to the traffic in front. The system can even control the car’s speed in stop-go traffic, bringing the car to a stop and moving off again completely automatically. However, the system is only available as part of an optional extra package, and then only on the most expensive model.

Fun to drive – 7/10

Tidy and controlled

There’s a satisfyingly tidy manner to the way the QX30 deals with corners. The steering doesn’t deliver all that much feel, but it is crisp and consistent, and despite the high ride height, the body doesn’t lean over too much.

Of course, the diesel engine doesn’t really serve up a particularly enticing engine note, and the automatic gearbox smothers enthusiasm with its slow changes in manual mode. But see past these issues and the QX30 is an enjoyable thing to hustle along a back road, if perhaps not an exciting one.

Reliability – 8/10

No data, but reputation is decent

Infiniti is too small a brand to register on the JD Power Dependability Survey. However, the signs for good reliability are promising, as both Mercedes and Nissan – the two companies from which the QX30 sprang – both have excellent reputations.

Less glowing is the fact that the QX30 comes with a warranty that’s limited to just 60,000 miles. The Mercedes GLA and BMW X1 both have warranties of unlimited mileage, though all are limited to three years.

Fuel consumption – 6/10

Hampered by being four-wheel-drive only

Compared like-for-like with rival four-wheel-drive models, the QX30’s fuel consumption is fair-to-middling. It beats the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA on paper, leaving only the BMW X1 to better it.

However, that’s not the full story, because all those rivals also offer a two-wheel-drive alternative, for those who value fuel consumption over go-anywhere ability. The QX30 doesn’t, which means you’re stuck with its thirst. 

Affordability – 2/10

Costly to buy or lease

Prices for the QX30 start rather high, and there’s a reason for that, which is that its engine and specification put it on a par with the higher-end models offered by other manufacturers. It’d be nice to have the choice of a cheaper version.

That high cost means it’s also seriously pricey to lease, and if you want one as a company car, its P11D value is sky-high too, so it won’t come cheap.

What’s more, it probably won’t hold its value too well, either, as so few people even know what it is. In other words, whichever way you choose to own one, a QX30 will be an expensive exercise.

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Safety – 9/10

Good safety kit

The QX30 hasn’t been tested by the benchmark European crash testing agency, but its closely-related hatchback sibling, the Q30, has.

It obtained a very respectable five-star rating and scored impressively well for pedestrian protection, although the BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA both scored fractionally better on occupant protection.

The QX30 counters by coming as standard with some impressive safety kit. It comes as standard with a system which detects impending head-on collisions at urban speeds and applies the brake to prevent or mitigate them, and there’s also a full complement of seven airbags.

Standard spec – 9/10

Both models are well equipped

The range starts with the Premium version, which gets dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, satnav, heated front seats, automatic headlights and wipers and voice recognition all as standard.

Upgrade to the Premium Tech, which is the only other model, and you also get front parking sensors with a reversing camera, adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry, wood trim, leather seats with electrically adjustable front seats, and a ski hatch.

All of which means the QX30 is well-equipped compared with its rivals; few come with quite so many toys as standard.

Our favourite version

2.2d Premium (list price: £29,490)

Options you should add: Metallic paint (£670)

The verdict – 6/10

The QX30 is a very credible effort from Infiniti, with high standards of equipment and build quality and stylish looks. However, it’s hampered by poor interior space, which makes it less suitable for family buyers than its rivals. If you like the look of the QX30 but don't need four-wheel drive, you should consider the Q30, which is its front-wheel-drive sibling, and considerably cheaper to buy and run.

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