Infiniti Q30


Debut: 2015
Maker: Nissan
Predecessor: No



 Published on 25 Nov 2015 All rights reserved. 


It’s not a secret that Infiniti’s first ever C-segment hatch, Q30, is derived from the MFA platform of Mercedes A-class, B-class, CLA-class and GLA-class. It is part of a wider joint-venture forged between Daimler and Renault-Nissan group. The first fruits of that partnership are Smart Fortwo / Forfour and Renault Twingo. However, unlike that case, or many other joint ventures we found in the automotive industry, the Q30 is not an OEM product engineered and built by one side. Mercedes is so generous that it offers the platform and key component set, i.e. most engines (but one small diesel from Renault), transmission, suspensions etc. as well as most of the electronic platform, for Nissan to start building its own car. This means, Nissan not only dictated its styling, but it engineered the interior, retuned the powertrains and suspension so that the Q30 looks and drives vastly different from its donor car. Moreover, it is built at its own factory in Sunderland, UK. I suspect Mercedes has more contributions than gains in this program (the additional volume provided by Q30 should be negligible compared with the MFA cars), but sometimes businessmen have to look at the wider picture, not just one or two programs.



Being positioned in the market as a premium hatchback like Mercedes A-class, the resultant product could raise the eyebrows of some Mercedes managers. The Q30 has looks and build quality to shine. While I don’t think it is as beautiful as the A-class, Infiniti’s styling is striking and highly original. In fact, I think the compact hatch looks nicer than the larger Q60 sedan despite of the same visual genes. Its sheet metal is heavily curved and twisted, decorated with sharp crease lines which contribute to a dynamic impression under light reflection. You will also notice that the car’s proportion approaches a crossover, with large wheel arches, high ground clearance and a roof standing 1.5 meters above the ground. Nevertheless, Nissan doesn’t call it a crossover, because there will be one called QX30, which is basically a Q30 with jacked up suspensions and extra plastic claddings.

The interior shares the behind-the-scene architecture with A-class but the styling is completely new. If the interior styling is not as attractive as the exterior, at least the build quality and materials are good. There are soft leather and Alcantara-like materials trimming the dash, doors and seats. Dark lacquer and metallic plastics decorate the console and switchgears to give a premium feel deserved by a premium hatchback. Look more carefully, you will find some Mercedes bits, such as the steering wheel, gear selector, gauges and many switches. Unfortunately, the quality of these items is also where the small Mercedes fall short. Moreover, Infiniti’s own infotainment system is unresponsive and not very user friendly.



On the plus side, the front seats are soft and more comfy than the Mercedes’, if not very supportive. Space up front is good. Not so at the back. Like the A-class, the car does not use its 2700 mm wheelbase very efficiently, resulting in tight knee room at the back. The roof is okay for 5ft 10in frames but not taller. Moreover, if you try to squeeze the third passenger there, the outer two will find their heads pressed uncomfortably against the heavily tapered side windows and roof rails. Getting through the rear doors also need to mind your head.

The slowest and most economical Q30 is powered by Renault’s 1.5dCi turbo diesel. This 8-valver is hardly state of the art, neither is it powerful at 109 hp, but it offers decent torque in mid-range and pretty good refinement on motorway. Next up is Mercedes’ 1.6-liter turbo petrol with 156 hp. As the crossover-style Q30 is considerably heavier than class norm, its performance is also marginal. Better is the Mercedes 2.1-liter turbo diesel with 170 hp. Its peak torque is lowered from 295 to 258 lbft to fit the Mercedes 7-speed twin-clutch gearbox. Performance is decent (0-60 in 7.8 seconds), but as in the case of A-class, this engine is neither smooth nor quiet enough to be worth a premium badge. BMW and Audi’s 2.0 diesels are more refined. At the top – also the only engine for US market – is the A250’s 2-liter turbo petrol, still rated at 211 hp. It is much faster, but then a Golf GTi is a lot faster and more flexible again. Sometimes sharing Mercedes parts does not guarantee class-leading quality. The same can be said to the 7G-DCT. Despite of a software tuned specifically by Nissan, the gearbox still shifts too slow in manual or sport mode. That said, it does works smoother than Mercedes’ own applications in city traffic.


Perhaps the most surprising is ride quality. The Infiniti version suspension gets longer travel and softer tuning. In addition to high-profile (60 percent) tires adopted on the standard car, it successfully has most of the road imperfection ironed out, unlike the A-class. Only large potholes could unsettle its chassis. On optional Sport suspension, whose springs are 7% stiffer, ride height is 15 mm lower and mates with 235/45R19 rubbers, the ride quality is marginally worse, though tire and suspension noise are not as well suppressed as the best European hatches. On the flipside, the combination of soft suspension and high center of gravity results in excessive lean and moderate understeer in tight corners. Sport suspension is better but still it is not an agile car. The electric assistance of steering is consistent but rather lifeless. The Q30 trades driving excitement for comfort.

In some areas the Infiniti hatchback does shade its Mercedes cousin, in particular ride and transmission. However, Mercedes A-class has never been the car to beat in the class, which should be Volkswagen Golf or, if a premium badge is a must to you, Audi A3. Both are faster, better to drive, more accommodative and higher in build quality. Fortunately, the Q30 may sell for a unique look.
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Q30 1.5d
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4425 / 1805 / 1495 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4 diesel
1461 cc
SOHC 8 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
109 hp
192 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
215/60R17
1359 kg
118 mph (c)
11.3 (est)
-
Q30 2.2d
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4425 / 1805 / 1495 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4 diesel
2143 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
170 hp
258 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
215/60R17
1447 kg
137 mph (c)
7.8 (c)
-
Q30 2.0t
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4425 / 1805 / 1495 mm
2700 mm
Inline-4
1991 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
211 hp
258 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: multi-link
-
235/45R19
1470 kg
146 mph (c)
6.8 (c)
-




Performance tested by: -





AutoZine Rating

General models



    Copyright© 1997-2015 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine