Inside the Infiniti Q30 AWD
Although the Mercedes-based Q30 hatch is a very different vehicle to the Nissan-based Q50 saloon we also drove in the Swiss Alps, the two models have a couple of key factors in common.
Firstly, they’re both comfortable and quiet. And secondly, they both look and feel about a decade behind the best in their respective classes.
As mentioned earlier, it’s not hard to find evidence of the Mercedes A-Class origins anywhere you look in the Infiniti Q30. Obviously it’s the same size in every direction, and most of the switchgear is shared between the two.
That means that space up front is generally pretty good, but it’s quite tight in the back seats. Visibility out the back window is also poor, which is one area that Infiniti’s styling has compromised driver practicality.
The dash layout is serviceable but looks quite dated, although there’s plenty of kit as standard on the top-spec Sport Tech model we drove. If you want tech extras like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, however, then you’re out of luck in the Q30 as they’re simply not available.
One area where Infiniti has excelled is in making the interior of the Q30 lovely and quiet. Our car had a 2.1-litre diesel engine, which is sourced from Mercedes-Benz and was notably loud and grumbly in every Mercedes model it ever powered. Yet in the Q30 it is almost inaudible on the motorway, and only really noticeable at low speed around town.
In fact, the main noise we heard at motorway speed was from the winter tyres that all cars are required to run in Switzerland at this time of year. On regular summer tyres, as most UK drivers will use all year round, it would be even quieter.
Driving the Infiniti Q30 AWD
The second impressive feat that Infiniti’s engineers have really performed is to make the Q30 ride comfortably despite wearing big 19-inch wheels with low-profile tyres. In fact, our Infiniti on 19-inch wheels rode better than the Mercedes on which it was based ever did on 17-inch wheels, let alone bigger rims that AMG Line models sported.
The 2.1-litre diesel provides more than enough performance for most drivers’ needs, and the seven-speed automatic gearbox (also inherited from Mercedes) is smooth while you’re cruising yet responsive when you are more eager to get a move on.
The all-wheel drive system adds to the car’s feeling of comfort and security, and is imperceptible in normal driving. Even in slippery conditions, the Q30 feels sure-footed and stable.
The general feeling behind the wheel of the Q30 was one of pleasant surprise. The Infiniti engineers have done a good job improving the platform over the Mercedes and produced a car that is much nicer to drive, which was unexpected.
If you simply look at a spreadsheet of data, the Infiniti Q30 AWD doesn’t appear to be too impressive. Against one of the toughest field of competitors anywhere in the new car market, it doesn’t lead the pack in any single area and it’s too expensive as well.
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, in particular, has moved on in leaps and bounds, so a car that’s based on the old 2012 model can’t hope to match it.
But the Q30 still has a lot going for it. If you like the looks and you’re not bothered about having the latest Apple or Android integrations, this is a smooth, comfortable hatch that comes with a decent level of kit for the money. It certainly looks like nothing else in its segment, which is a bonus.
If you like the look of the Infiniti Q30 AWD and the feature set stacks up with all the bits you want or need, you may well be very happy in it. Like us, you could be in for a pleasant surprise.
The Infiniti Q30 AWD is built in Britain.
Model as tested: Infiniti Q30 Sport Tech AWD
Price as tested (on-road): £38,390
Engine: 2.1-litre turbo diesel
Gearbox: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 170 hp
Torque: 350 Nm
Top speed: 134 mph
0-60 mph: 8.5 seconds
Fuel economy (combined): 39.8 mpg
CO2 emissions: 157 g/km
Euro NCAP safety rating: 5 stars (2015)