The Infiniti QX30 is an elegant little crossover introduced for 2017. In a stunning alliance between Japanese and German carmakers, it shares its platform and front-wheel-drive powertrain with the Mercedes-Benz GLA250.
Both compete against well-executed rivals such as the rear-wheel-drive BMW X1. The Mazda3 hatchback might be seen as a competitor as well, and in fact the QX30 profile suggests the Mazda3.
Otherwise the QX30 body is a unique blend of scalloped edges and lumps, out of which emerges a serious stance. Its creative styling begins a design direction for Infiniti, so watch for other models taking the shape. In the Nissan-Infiniti vision, it’s an international design, for their international expansion. The QX30 is assembled in England. It is unchanged for 2018.
However, the dramatic exterior and compact dimensions limit space in the cabin. It’s considered a five-seater, but it’s tight for two in the rear, and impossible for three.
The QX30 comes three ways: base QX30, sporty QX30S, and QX30 AWD with a raised ride height and body panels that imagine off-road.
The QX30 crossovers sold around the world get a choice of engines. In North America, there is only one: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine making 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, coupled to an automated 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. It gets an EPA-rated 27 Combined miles per gallon on Premium gasoline. On the AWD model, an intelligent all-wheel-drive system can transmit up to half the power to the rear wheels, whenever sensors detect traction loss.
QX30 models are base, Luxury, Premium and Sport, available with all-wheel-drive in Luxury and Premium.
QX30 comes standard ($29,950) with high-quality black fabric upholstery, manual front seats, and InTouch infotainment with a 7-inch screen, but don’t expect Infiniti dealers to find one out back for you. Much more common will be the QX30 Luxury ($32,600), available with AWD ($34,400)
Nappa leather is available. Optional designer packages for the interior include: City Black that couples black upholstery with purple stitching; Cafe Teak that features black stitching with brown/black upholstery; Gallery White that trims white upholstery with red details.
Safety features include blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning with emergency braking assist, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, self-parking, and a surround-view camera system that detects moving objects like dogs, cats, or children.
From the long and angular nose, the sheetmetal flows back to swollen fenders around large wheel wells. The greenhouse is short and low, flaunting Infiniti’s familiar reverse-crescent C-pillar that supports and steeply sloped rear window and reaches to a chopped rear end. It’s a profile unlike any other luxury compact crossover.
Sharp scalloped character lines begin near the top and bottom of the front doors and narrow as they race toward the rear wheel wells, deliver a striking three-dimensional image and exaggerating the car’s horizontal lines. An elevated stance somehow steals from the hatchback silhouette. That’s not on the QX30S, which is a half-inch lower and shows it.
The cabin is smartly designed and full of high-quality materials. Even in the base model having an excellent fabric upholstery, there’s a lot of soft-touch materials.
Infiniti designs its seats based on spinal support research, matching the curvature of the human spine, to reduce pressure on the back muscles with better distribution of the load. Maybe as a result, 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.
The long roof provides a greater sense of spaciousness in the rear, but it’s also low, so that takes away headroom. Same with legroom in the 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The cabin volume is rated at 19.2 cubic feet, which is one more cubic foot than the Mercedes GLA250 that it’s based upon.
Voice recognition controls audio and navigation commands. InTouch infotainment features intuitive finger-touch and swipe controls, via a seven-inch touchscreen.
The gas pedal is quick initially, making the power tricky to modulate from a start. The paddle-shifting dual-clutch 7-speed shifts quickly but sometimes gets confused at low speeds.
Intended to conserve fuel, the automatic Stop/Start system is noticeable, but not jolting as in some rivals. It must be the smooth Mercedes system, better than the disruptive BMW system.
The steering feels consistent at any speed, neither heavy at high speeds nor overboosted in parking-lot driving. Of course, it might be argued that the whole point of electronic variable steering is to make it heavier at speed and lighter in tight maneuvers. But no, Infiniti engineers say they intended the QX30 steering to be consistent. It’s also precise.
The QX30 corners with dexterity. In the twisties, the front-wheel-drive feels more alive. The front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models ride nearly the same, with the awd a bit stiffer because of its thicker rear anti-roll bar. Firmer springs and suspension tuning on the front-wheel-drive QX30S tighten the handling but don’t significantly stiffen the ride on the 19-inch wheels.
The Infiniti QX30 features striking sheetmetal wrapped around a Mercedes engine and transmission. Stylish cabin is best-suited for two, with four only occasionally. Twenty-seven miles per gallon on Premium fuel with responsive acceleration performance.
Sam Moses contributed to this report.