Infiniti QX30 Sport — Stylish and aggressive

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Infiniti set out years ago to be the styling leader as well as the performance champion in the luxury crossover segment with the 2003 FX. Today, in the rapidly growing small luxury crossover segment, Infiniti adds the 2018 QX30 to the styling/performance mix.

The QX30 is unusual in that it’s the first love child from the Renault-Nissan partnership with Mercedes-Benz. The QX30 is actually based on the Mercedes GLA platform, picking up the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and transmission, with some tweaking to the suspension.

Infiniti has endowed its new sub-compact QX30 with the same traits — cutting-edge styling, sports-car-like performance, and all-wheel drive. As for Infiniti's penchant for futuristic styling, Infiniti designers might have tried a bit too hard for the next best thing. From most angles the little crossover has a winning appearance, but from the side the design seems a bit overwrought with one character line flourish too many.

To get the ultimate athleticism out of the small crossover, you will need to forsake the all-wheel drive version for the front driven QX30 Sport which comes with a sport-tuned suspension that rides 0.8 inch lower than all of the other front-drive models. It has 19-inch alloy wheels with run-flat summer tires, black exterior mirror housings, specific front and rear lower fascia, body-color side sill panels, a black-colored grille, front sport seats with synthetic suede and faux leather upholstery, a 360-degree camera system, an automated parking system, and a flat-bottom steering wheel.

All QX30 models get a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 208 horsepower and a healthy 258 pound-feet of torque mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with three driving models — manual, eco and sport. While the sport setting held the gears longer for an extra measure of quickness, we found it a bit aggressive for around-town driving. On the other hand, the eco mode gave the crossover a slow, lazy feel that was highly annoying. The bottom line — we found the combination of power and handling in the sport mode enjoyable, and the suspension tuning tolerable.

While the horsepower and torque remain the same, and the cosmetic touches and upgraded sports seats do not add to the standard QX30 performance, the suspension tuning and lowered height have provided an edge to the Sport with 0-to-60 time lowered from 6.6 to 6.2 seconds and the 50-to-70 mph passing time improved by a half second at 4.2 seconds. Cornering and braking performance have also been improved with the Sport trim.
If sporty driving is secondary in your lifestyle, and you need the off-road and bad-weather attributes of all-wheel drive, the QX30 should satisfy your needs. There's 8 inches of ground clearance, which is more than what most small SUVs or hatchbacks have, and enough to explore some off-road trails. Along with AWD that can send up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels, it adds hill descent control.

The cabin is small with small rear-seat passenger space. Conversely, front seats are especially roomy with lots of travel fore and aft. Materials and build quality are premium and it looks "Mercedes" because it mostly is. But because of its diminutive size, visibility is compromised. Cargo space is also on the small size, a result of form over function.

The QX30 gets Infiniti’s InTouch seven-inch single screen infotainment system instead of Mercedes’ COMAND system. And while the GLA gets standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency breaking, those important safety features are optional on the QX30. We think they should be standard on a luxury vehicle such as this.

Controls are familiar and easy to use. The 7-inch infotainment system has a rotary dial and button interface, which we found less distracting than a touchscreen. For instance, the audio system has six standard pre-set buttons that don't require going into the infotainment screen to access. This is still the best design on the planet for accessing favorite stations while keeping eyes on the road. Also noteworthy are the power seat controls on the door — Mercedes style — that we find easier to use than those on the side of the seat.

The QX30 comes in four trim levels — base, Luxury, Premium and Sport — starting at $30,945 including destination charge. Starting price for a Luxury front-drive trim is $33,595. The range tops out at $39,495 for the Sport. All-wheel drive is a $1,800 option on the Luxury trim and a $2,440 option on the Premium trim. Our Sport test vehicle that included technology, LED, navigation and sport leather packages carried a bottom line of $43,660.

Base price: $30,945; as driven, $43,660
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 208 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 258 foot-pounds @ 1,200 rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
Drive: front wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 106.3 inches
Length: 174.2 inches
Curb weight: 3,364 pounds
Turning circle: 36.6 feet
Luggage capacity: 19.2 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 34 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 14.8 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 24 city, 33 highway, 27 combined
0-60: 6.2 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: BMW X1, Audi Q3, Mercedes GLA

The Good
• Strong acceleration
• Sporty handling
• High-quality interior

The Bad
• Stiff suspension

The Ugly
• Limited cargo space