Seattle, Washington ― Occasionally, being late to the game is a good thing. This will normally help you avoid repeating the mistakes that your predecessors made. The risk with this strategy is that there could be no room left or you’ll get little or no attention.
Infiniti and Nissan have done a smart thing. They may be last to join the small luxury CUV party, but they’ve received a lot of help from an established player in the form of Mercedes-Benz. And considering that this fairly new market segment is starving for more players, they’re likely to get some love.
Or is that more? The all-new 2017 Infiniti QX30 brings gobs of styling, performance, and utility to a category where everyone is vying for attention. Of these three elements, design might be the most important, and the QX30 outshines the majority of its competitors.
It’s no secret to anyone that the Infiniti QX30 is a reimagined Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. The very popular German compact crossover serving as Infiniti’s platform for a new vehicle is the result of a deal that was struck between the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) back in 2011.
The new QX30 thus possesses the same mechanical components as the GLA 250. More precisely, it uses a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Most other apparatuses are also shared, but Infiniti engineers made sure to make it their own before the final seal of approval was given.
Said engine produces 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and it can also be found in the latest Q50 sports sedan. Both FWD and AWD are available; however, the existence of the 2-wheel drive version is due to the fact that Infiniti initially wanted to offer a Q30 hatchback. They nixed the idea and simply renamed the vehicles. One way or another, it is expected that AWD will account for more than 85% of all QX30 sales. The system has a front-wheel bias, but can send up to 50% of the torque to the rear wheels.
Physically, the AWD models differ from the others with 30 mm of extra ground clearance. As well, a Sport version will be offered, this one riding 15 mm closer to the road than the regular QX30.
The Infiniti touch
Nissan’s luxury brand insists it has managed to tune and tweak all of Mercedes’ underpinnings and make the vehicle its own. In reality, only a back-to-back comparison between the two would reveal precise details, but I can say that the 2017 Infiniti QX30 has a more dynamic feel to its road manners.
The engine and transmission are perfectly suited to each other, both supplying a fair amount of vim to the driving experience. The 2.0L turbo works best below 4,000 rpm where all of its torque lies. Infiniti offers a few drive modes that are the norm in 2016-17, but end up being unnecessary in such a car. The same goes for the paddle shifters as the transmission knows exactly what to do at all times.
The roads north and west of Seattle provided an ideal setting to experience the Infiniti QX30’s front MacPherson and rear multi-link independent suspension. Its tuning is a little sharper than the GLA, based on memory, but far from hampering comfort. The few switchbacks we encountered did nothing to disrupt the Infiniti’s fine handling characteristics. In fact, by the end of the day, it was clear that the QX30 is much more a car than a CUV, and that’s a very good thing.
The 2017 Infiniti QX30 might very well be the best-looking contender in its segment. The Japanese brand’s designers truly deserve some kind of award here.
They were essentially given a rolling chassis along with strict limits as to what could and couldn’t be done. The final result is a vehicle that makes the donor car seem like it was designed 10 years ago and for older folks. Its body creases, crescent-shaped C-pillars, and signature double-arch grille are fabulous. The QX30 has got enough road presence to be noticed and the right dose of styling to let everyone know this is a luxury product.
Compared to the GLA, the new QX30 is a tad longer and wider, but this has no impact on the size of the cabin as the wheelbases are identical. Four passengers are best served by the Infiniti with a sufficiently capacious trunk ― one of the largest in the segment ― for a weekend’s worth of gear. The front seats are snug and tailored to the average human’s needs.
Interior details betray the Infiniti’s roots as a Mercedes since the majority of the switchgear is clearly lifted from the GLA. Fit and finish are excellent, while the 7” touchscreen display harbours numerous connectivity menus as well as navigation.
The new 2017 Infiniti QX30 carries a base price of $35,990. The AWD version begins at $38,490, which is $490 more than a base GLA 250 4MATIC. The price difference is hard to justify as basic equipment levels are similar. Factor in the prestige of the silver star, and the QX30 may have a difficult time convincing potential buyers to look its way.
Time will tell what the outcome will be, but Infiniti’s splash into the game will certainly be noticed.