The Infiniti QX30 is a new luxury compact crossover designed to convey a sense of what might be termed elegant aggression. The QX30 shares its platform and powertrain with the recently launched Mercedes-Benz GLA250. Joining a highly competitive market segment, the 2017 Infiniti QX30 goes against such well-executed rivals as the BMW X1, as well as the GLA250 itself.
Some observers have noted a significant resemblance to the compact Mazda3 hatchback, but the QX30 has a look all its own. The internationally focused design theme signals a new product direction for the Infiniti brand. Nissan’s premium division clearly wishes to become a major luxury-market player in Europe and other global regions.
Aiming at worldwide sales, crossovers for international markets will be offered with a variety of engines and transmissions. American versions of the QX30 get a single powertrain: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that develops 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, coupled to an automated 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. On the AWD model, an intelligent all-wheel-drive system can transmit up to half of engine power to the rear wheels, whenever sensors detect traction loss.
Three trim levels will be offered: base QX30, sportier QX30S, and QX30 AWD. The all-wheel-drive edition features raised ride height, as well as unique body panels that impart a modest sense of ruggedness.
Infiniti claims that QX30 styling defies the customary vehicle categorization, occupying a segment between premium compact and larger crossover models. In terms of seat design, Infiniti touts the use of spinal support research. Seats are said to be engineered to match the curvature of the human spine, thus minimizing pressure on the back muscles by more equal distribution of the load. Dramatic exterior design, on the other hand, places a limit on space within the asymmetrically shaped cabin.
Voice recognition controls audio and navigation commands. InTouch infotainment features intuitive finger-touch and swipe controls, via a seven-inch touchscreen.
Crash-test results have not yet been issued, but safety takes precedence and the QX30 may be equipped with a number of active-safety and driver-assist features. They include blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with emergency braking assist, automatic high beams, and adaptive cruise control. Available Park Assist can guide the QX30 into an open parking space. The available surround-view camera system includes moving-object detection.
The 2017 QX30 comes standard with front-wheel drive and includes InTouch infotainment, as well as 18-inch wheels. Black cloth upholstery is standard, with Nappa leather optional.
QX30 AWD adds all-wheel drive, with slightly taller ride height. Front/rear valance panels are said to be inspired by off-roading.
QX30S raises the sport-performance ante with 19-inch wheels and a lower ride height. Styling touches include unique front and rear fascias; a glossy black grille; leather-wrapped, flat-bottomed steering wheel; and aluminum pedals and footrests. Sport seats with eight-way power adjustment and lumbar support will be available.
Optional designer packages can customize the QX30 interior. City Black couples black upholstery with purple stitching. Cafe Teak features black stitching with brown/black upholstery. Gallery White trims white upholstery with red details.
Infiniti’s latest design language, highlighted on the QX30, consists of sharp angles and sweeping curves. Elements of French and Japanese influence are evident. Starting with a long, angular nose, the body flows rearward, encompassing swollen fenders that surround huge wheel wells. The comparatively short, low greenhouse features Infiniti’s familiar reverse-crescent C-pillar, leading to an abbreviated rear end that contains a steeply-sloped window. The result is a profile unlike any competitive model.
Sharp accent lines within each door taper inward, suggesting a three-dimensional shape that emphasizes the QX30’s horizontal proportions. An elevated stance distracts from the QX30’s upright hatchback silhouette. Except for QX30S models, which ride a half-inch lower, the suspension is a bit more elevated than in ordinary hatchbacks. Ride height is a bit taller in the AWD model. Nicely executed, the overall shape is undeniably Infiniti.
Immediately, the observer’s eye is drawn to an asymmetrical sweep across the QX30’s dashboard. That interior element provides a notable contrast to more austere, down-to-business cabins in rival German models.
Not only is the interior smartly designed, it’s packed with high-quality materials.
Some passengers can expect a snug fit in their seats. Front seats are sufficiently wide with good legroom, though head space is limited. As a road curves leftward, taller drivers might note that the windshield pillar restricts their view. The coupe-like roof dips sharply downward, so average-height, front-seat passengers might feel obliged to duck their heads to see outward.
Space is less restrictive in the back seat, where the long roof provides a greater sense of spaciousness. Head and leg space is barely sufficient to satisfy adult riders. With its 60/40 split-folding rear seat, the QX30 crossover provides greater utility than competitive sedans.
Performance from the QX30’s powertrain has German-brand characteristics, hardly a surprise because it hails from Mercedes-Benz. Because of that connection, some buyers who wouldn’t ordinarily favor an Infiniti might be attracted by the German-developed foundation.
Front-wheel drive is standard on the QX30 and QX30S, but the QX30 AWD adds all-wheel drive, with increased ride height and a touch of off-pavement potential.
In an early drive, the powertrain demonstrated responsive behavior, whether starting off from a standstill or accelerating to pass another vehicle. Other turbocharged four-cylinder engines paired with dual-clutch transmissions sometimes present hesitant responses, particularly at low speeds, but the QX30 performed appropriately. Infiniti claims 0-60 mph acceleration in just over seven seconds. Intended to conserve fuel, the automatic stop/start system is noticeable, but not nearly as jolting as some competitive setups.
Infiniti engineers sought to develop steering that maintains a consistent feel, regardless of speed, and they appear to have succeeded. Not only is steering precise, it’s neither excessively heavy at higher speeds nor overboosted in parking-lot driving. Overall, a QX30 handles dexterously, even if it’s not meant for fiery road tactics. Stiffer springs on the QX30S model don’t roughen the ride significantly.
More daring in design than most compact premium crossovers, the QX30 looks about as striking as any hatchback could possibly manage. The Mercedes-Benz powertrain is responsive.
Driving impressions by Christian Gulliksen, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.