Infiniti Q30 1.5d Prestige first drive review
The Infiniti Q30 wades into the popular premium hatchback market, where there are some seriously impressive competitors. So, can it compete with the likes of Audi and BMW?
- Premium mid-size hatchback to rival Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series
- Shares much of its technology and engineering with the Mercedes A-Class
- On sale in January, starting at £20,550 (£22,550 for model tested)
As a premium five-door hatchback, it’ll go up against desirable and talented cars like the Audi A3 Sportback and BMW 1 Series, giving it some very tough competition indeed. In order to take the fight to its German rivals, the Q30 shares many of its oily bits – platform and engines among others – with another German rival, the Mercedes A-Class.
Infiniti says the Q30 will appeal to buyers thanks to its design and its driving dynamics. So, does the car deliver enough talent in these areas to upset the established order?
The interior looks pretty smart, too, with some very pleasant materials on display, finished with some glitzy-looking trims. Anyone familiar with the A-Class will recognize much of the switchgear, which is lifted straight out of the Mercedes, but that’s no bad thing because it looks good and most of it is pretty easy to use.
It does mean, however, that the Q30 shares some of the Merc’s more annoying foibles. The switch for the electronic parking brake is tucked away underneath the dashboard and works in an unintuitive way (you push the switch to engage it and pull to disengage), and it doesn’t always disengage automatically when you pull away. The pedals are heavily offset, too, while the small rear window means your rear visibility is less than ideal.
Another trait that the Q30 shares with the A-Class is disappointing practicality. The rear seats have a reasonable (if not particularly generous) amount of legroom and headroom, but with a roof that curves downwards on either side of the car, your passengers will have to duck underneath it when getting in and out, and will knock the side of their head each time you go around a bend. The limited shoulder space, narrow middle seat and bulky transmission tunnel also make this a car that’s best suited to carrying four people, rather than five.
The boot is a decent size for the class at 368 litres, and the rear seats fold more-or-less flat when you need to boost that capacity. However, the loadspace is hard to get at due to a narrow boot opening and a high load lip.
Admittedly, the body control is fairly decent once the car settles into a bend, but there’s an initial period of sloppiness that makes your turn-in feel rather laboured. And, although you get plenty of grip and reasonably quick steering, there's not a great deal of feedback through the wheel.
There is some better news on the engine front, though. The 1.5-litre diesel that we major on here is the most sensible option thanks to its efficiency and relative affordability, and it’s also the best engine we tried. It’s smooth and quiet most of the time, and although it doesn’t make the Q30 all that quick, it’s nice and flexible for an easy, relaxed life. The manual gearshift is a shade notchy, but it’s nothing that spoils the experience.
We also tried the 2.1-litre diesel, which is quicker, but it’s no more flexible and costs a lot more to buy. We had a shot in the 2.0-litre petrol version, too, which is supposed to be the sporty, high-performance option, but it’s immensely disappointing, both in the way it accelerates and in the noise it makes.
Granted, it’s a little cheaper to buy than an Audi A3 Sportback or BMW 1 Series, but it’s no cheaper to run day-to-day. What’s more, the Q30’s resale values will be considerably lower, putting a considerable dent in your whole-life running costs. Factor in the logistical difficulties posed by Infiniti’s tiny UK dealer network, and the Q30’s appeal gets smaller and smaller.
- Model: Infiniti Q30 1.5d Prestige
- Price: £22,550
- Engine: 1.5-litre diesel, six-speed manual
- Power/Torque: 107bhp/192lb ft
- 0-62mph: 12.0secs
- Top speed: 118mph
- Economy: 68.9mpg
- CO2/BIK tax liability: 108g/km/19%
- Boot space: 368 litres