What is it?
The Infiniti Q30 is a premium hatchback that competes against rivals like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The all-wheel-drive version sits at the top of the model range.
- All-wheel drive
- Quiet in cabin
- Distinctive styling
The Infiniti Q30 AWD is a surprisingly decent compact hatchback. It’s comfortable and quiet, and it has a unique visual style that sets it apart. Plus the security of all-wheel drive is much appreciated in slippery winter weather.
However, all of that is still not quite enough to place it on the class podium against some very tough opposition in the premium segment.
The Infiniti Q30 is built in Britain.
The Infiniti Q30 has been on sale for more than three years now, which may come as a surprise to many people. You don’t exactly see many of them on the road or in the average car park.
The Q30 was touted as the car to finally make Nissan’s premium brand relevant in Europe after years of negligible sales. The company has always done pretty well in America, but never had the right sort of products to appeal to European buyers.
Through Infiniti’s membership of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which in turn has an agreement with Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler, the Q30 emerged in late 2015 as a premium hatchback based on the then-new Mercedes A-Class.
But it’s not as simple as Mercedes supplying a rebadged A-Class for Infiniti to sell. The Q30 was largely designed at Nissan’s European Design Centre in London and developed at its technical centre near Milton Keynes.
A £250 million investment was also made to expand Nissan’s enormous British plant in Sunderland to build the Q30 and its higher-riding sister, the QX30. The company now exports Infiniti Q30 and QX30 vehicles to Europe, the USA and China.
Being developed from the Mercedes A-Class, it’s not surprising that the Q30 feels rather more like that vehicle than anything else in the Infiniti line-up. if you’ve ever spent time in the (now previous model) A-Class, you’ll find a lot of familiar switchgear. The sizes and proportions are also inevitably similar.
What was definitely surprising was how much Infiniti has improved on the comfort levels of the A-Class, which is a credit to its engineering team.
Buying and owning an Infiniti Q30 AWD
Over the last three years, Infiniti has been tweaking the Q30 model range to suit customer preferences. There’s now a good balance of engines and specifications, with all models fitted out with a good level of kit as standard.
Unlike European rivals, the options list is pleasingly short. There are a few packs to cover convenience tech stuff and design stuff, and then a few extras like metallic paint, bigger wheels and a Bose stereo.
The model we are reviewing is the top-spec Q30 Sport Tech AWD 2.1-litre diesel automatic (bizarrely badged as a 2.2-litre). This model gets most of the kit that’s optional on cheaper models included, which is good because its on-road price tag of £37,000 is very steep. Our car also had bigger wheels, a glass roof and metallic paint to push that total to £38,400.
The range starts at a much more reasonable £21,300, which gets you a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a six-speed manual transmission in the entry-level Pure specification. Adding the seven-speed automatic transmission costs a considerable £3K, and jumping up to the 2.2-litre diesel (only available as an auto) adds the best part of another £2K.
Moving further up in the range gives you a choice of Luxe or Sport trims, both of which are then available as Luxe Tech or Sport Tech versions with satnav and other gadgets. These models are all auto-only, and a 2.0-litre petrol engine is added to the mix.
The Luxe Tech and Sport Tech models are also available with all-wheel drive. The car remains largely front-wheel driven under normal circumstances, but as soon as those wheels start to lose traction – such as in cold, wintry weather we enjoy in the UK – it will divert up to half the drive to the rear wheels. It’s the same principle as used by many companies in most AWD hatchback and SUV/crossover vehicles on the market.
Continued on next page: Interior, driving experience and our verdict