If you want to succeed as the new kid on the block, you have to push boundaries and offer more.
Make an impact.
Infiniti knows this all too well because for the past five years it’s been swimming upstream trying to get a toehold in the premium car sector that’s dominated by Mercedes Audi, BMW and Lexus.
Until now they’ve not made much headway, but the wave of new models, including the Infiniti Q30 Sport, has seen the tide start to turn with the brand attracting more buyers so far this year.
I was eager to get behind the wheel of the Infiniti Q30 Sport, which is basically a rebadged and reskinned Mercedes GLA crossover, as I enjoyed the Benz and was curious as to how different or similar the Infiniti Q30 Sport would be.
A first for Infiniti with the Q30 Sport is it’s not made in Japan. It is produced in Nissan’s UK factory in Sunderland, but the high level of quality, fit and finish remains.
A big hurrah to the designers who have given the Infiniti Q30 Sport its own distinctive look, with an edginess to its design and I think it looks way better than the Benz.
It features raised front guards, piercing headlights and flowing character lines along its flanks, a coupe-like roof line, shallowing side glass and smart looking 19-inch alloy wheels. I like the chrome grille but reckon the Infiniti badge needs a bit of toning down. Finishing touches include gloss black mirror housings, a roof spoiler and dual exhausts in dark chrome.
While the exterior has a fleeting likeness to the GLA, open the door, and the familiar Benz look is immediately evident, with the front seats, switchgear instruments and controls, straight from the German brand.
A major point of difference which I really like is the location of the gear shifter, which is in the centre console and not on the steering column like the Benz.
Soft touch Alcantara covers most of the dash and flows along the door trims and comfy seats, that also get leather inserts. The 7-inch infotainment screen with its cache of menus and applications is easy to use, enabling me to hook up my phone and music in no time quickly and the six-speaker audio system belts out a hefty note.
Space-wise, it’s not bad up front with a decent level of room, but it is very tight in the back with not much head or legroom. That aside, the Infiniti Q30 Sport’s interior has a classy look and feel and muffles road noise well on most surfaces.
Standard kit includes LED indicators and LED Dusk sensing headlights with automatic levelling and cornering functions, daytime running lights, a digital speedo, Bluetooth phone with audio streaming and voice recognition, 7-inch infotainment touch screen, a six-speaker audio system with speed sensitive volume.
Two gripes. There is no reversing camera, just old fashioned sensors and no provision for Apple play or Android Auto. When playing in this league, that’s just not good enough.
Priced at an eye-watering $46,990 (+ORC), at the heart of the Infiniti Q30 SportQ30S is a 2.2-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder diesel, coupled to a seven-speed dual clutch auto that drives the front wheels.
In all but Sport mode, the Q30 Sport is a bit lifeless with a decent prod of the accelerator needed to induce forward movement. A flick across to Sport provides a more energetic approach, with the 7-speed dual-clutch auto and 125kW/350Nm diesel returning higher levels of responsiveness, its strong mid-range torque coming to the fore.
Although the badge on the back reads Sport and according to Infiniti that’s how the independent front and multi-link rear suspension with stiffer springs is tuned, the ride feels supple. Sport mode shows off its competent cornering ability, and the electric power steering has the right level of weight, with the brakes having a solid progressive feel.
Safety wise, the Infiniti is fully loaded. Adaptive cruise control with a speed limiter, intelligent brake assist, stability and traction controls, Lane departure and blind spot monitoring, parking sensors.
Infiniti still has a big job ahead of them with competitors including Audi’s Q3 and brand -new Q2, the Mercedes GLA, Mini Countryman and BMW X1.
But apart from a couple of oversights (no car play and reversing camera), there’s much to like about this latest offering from Infiniti, and it just might be the right bait to lure buyers from the traditional premium brands.
For more details on the Infiniti Q30 Sport head to the Infiniti website.