By BOB GRITZINGER, Contributing Editor | @bobgritzinger I’ve been on…
Even without paying attention you have likely noticed that, here in the United States, we have gone completely crossover crazy. As sales of some smaller passenger cars steadily decline, the growth of pint-sized crossovers and SUVs have been exponential. Now Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan, has expanded its lineup to include the QX30 — a compact utility based on the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 thanks to a fruitful partnership between Renault-Nissan and Daimler.
Infiniti’s QX30 enters the field
Infiniti invited Be Car Chic to experience its new QX30 in the Pacific Northwest. Along with a select group of automotive outlets, we converged in Seattle, Wash. — which, as it turns out, is a fantastic venue to explore the car’s various capabilities — to experience the newest, most petite crossover in the brand’s fleet.
Multiple Flavors, Same Luxury
The 2017 Infiniti QX30 comes standard as a front-wheel-drive compact crossover powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, mated only to a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
When it goes on sale in August, the QX30 will come in six trim levels: Base, Luxury, Premium, Sport, Luxury AWD and Premium AWD. The entry-level version comes in at just below $30,000 and is relatively well-equipped, receiving standard features such as LED daytime running lights (DRLs), auto-dimming, power-folding and heated exterior mirrors with puddle lamps.
The QX30 Premium, which is the highest level of the “base” trim also has an optional Gallery White Theme Package, which includes gorgeous white Nappa seats, Dinamica headliner, Satin Silver mirror caps, and unique 18″ aluminum wheels.
Sporty, but it could be sportier
Taking a step up in model trims, the QX30 Sport is expected to ring in at about $35,000 with the options most consumers will want (full model pricing hasn’t yet been announced). Infiniti does not swap out the German-built engine for its Sport model, making only aesthetic adjustments and lowering the ride height by about half-an-inch to give it a racier vibe. Design elements such as more aggressive front and rear fascias, a high-gloss black grille, body-color side sills, dark chrome exhausts, 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, sport suspension tuning, and a flat-bottom steering wheel differentiate the QX30 Sport from its siblings.
The 2017 Infiniti QX30 gets unique sheetmetal, whose swoopy lines we find to be more attractive than many of the crossover offerings currently on the market. Sharp lines move rearward, and instead of dropping off at the tail end, they flow seamlessly into the rear hatchback. We’d liken the design to a luxe version of Mazda’s CX-3, and we mean that as a compliment.
Dare we say the QX30 is one of Infiniti’s best-looking vehicles yet? Yes. Yes, we do.
Upon stepping inside, Infiniti smartly incorporates Mercedes-Benz bits such as the gear selector, instrument cluster and door lock pulls. Customers who may not traditionally gravitate toward Infiniti’s more opulent interiors will likely appreciate Daimler’s minimalistic influence here. Infiniti keeps it original in concept though, featuring an asymmetrical dash that focuses on the driver’s perspective.
Acceleration is brisk, in part to the large amount of torque from the small turbocharged engine. Torque steer seems well in-check, and the car is quite enjoyable to drive. The lack of a more robust engine for the Sport model is our only ding against this vehicle. But if you’re after a good-looking, premium-brand crossover for your everyday commute, then the 2017 Infiniti QX30 is more than adequate for the job.
AWD just when you need it
Seated at the top is the Infiniti QX30 AWD, which has been given an additional inch of ride height. We’re certain that the improved ground clearance will be a welcomed gift when navigating a challenging backroad or tackling winters in northern climates. Customers can expect a reasonably-equipped version to run around $40,000, which is still comparable against similarly outfitted models from luxury competitors such as the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
Jumping into the QX30 AWD, the additional ride height helps with outward visibility and presumed off-road clearance. Unless driving the Sport and AWD models back-to-back you won’t notice the change, but, as expected, steering is much sharper on the Sport (due to its special tuning).
All-wheel-drive vehicles are trending similarly to CUVs, and we imagine that the capable QX30 AWD will be the strongest seller.
The AWD is your standard system: it’ll act normally as a front-wheel drive car until it needs to be all-wheel-drive. The QX30 AWD has plenty of grip; on the stony and slippery fire road we travailed, it took a good amount of work to get the QX30 AWD to break traction.
Infiniti maintains safety as a primary focus with its newest crossover. Customers may option their QX30 with Forward-Collision Warning, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keep Assistance, Adaptive Cruise Control, and adaptive LED headlights.
The model is too young to have been tested for safety ratings yet, but given the nuts and bolts of this Infiniti belong to Mercedes-Benz, we would expect good marks for the QX30.
Overall, the 2017 Infiniti QX30 is an enjoyable vehicle to experience. We found everything about the brand’s smallest ute to be quite pleasant. The performance is good for the day-to-day, and the versatility of the AWD system makes it a good year-rounder in most climates.
We also appreciated the technology and safety found on the QX30; Infiniti did well not to skimp on these features within the entry-level models. Also, while the in-car navigation system works well, it does not currently support Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto technologies.
Forward visibility is excellent to the front, and even rearward visibility is decent, despite a chopped-off appearance from the outside.
One aspect worth mentioning is the non-traditional gear shifter, which has a push-button “Park” as opposed to the normal PRNDL setup. We’re sure it’s something folks could get used to over time, but more than once did we accidentally put the QX30 in Reverse when trying to put it in Park.
The pricing figures we quoted here are estimates based on the cars having navigation and other popular creature comforts. It’ll be possible to push a fully-loaded QX30 well into the $40,000 territory, but the pricing seems to be quite competitive.
It’s no surprise that the Pacific Northwest is home to Subaru enthusiasts. Just five minutes on the road outside Seattle and you’ve encountered a dozen Subies. That’s why we believe this was the ideal region to introduce the 2017 Infiniti QX30. For the prospective Subaru owner who may want something just a little fancier — although, we doubt they’d opt for the White Nappa leather interior — the QX30 is a logical upgrade.
The QX30 will appeal to a variety of buyers, including those new to the Infiniti brand. While it might be the “value buy” in the segment, it’s a great opportunity to introduce new customers to the luxury brand, where Infiniti then can retain them move them into higher-spec vehicles in the future.
Given the current crossover environment, we fully expect the QX30 to sell well. It’s competitively-priced, comfortable, and carries a premium badge. As a nicely designed compact utility, the QX30 may just be the product that Infiniti needs.