2017 Infiniti QX30 Sport

PHOENIX — The Infiniti QX30 is yet the latest all-new vehicle to enter the heavily populated and growing entry-level compact luxury crossover utility vehicle segment, joining Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA, to name a few. Infiniti is Nissan’s luxury brand and, for the most part, builds quite excellent vehicles. Stylistically, Infinitis have always had more visual appeal than competitors from Acura and Lexus. But I’ve never found them particularly thrilling to drive. More about that in a bit.

This 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-Benz GLA platform, picking up the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and transmission, with some tweaking to the suspension.

Infiniti offers three QX30 trim levels: the standard front-wheel drive, the spiced up QX30 Sport tested here (also front-wheel drive), and an all-wheel drive model. The first two models are less utility vehicle and more upscale compact hatchback.

We liked the 2.0-liter, 208-horsepower engine in our QX30 Sport; it felt quick and quite responsive after the initial turbo lag. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch with three driving modes: manual, eco and sport. We tried all three settings and none of them felt comfortable or precise, with different shift points and throttle settings. The sport setting held the gears too long and is not suitable for around town driving, and eco felt too sluggish. It felt capable but not as confident as a Volkswagen Golf GTi, Mazda CX3 or even the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

The cabin is small with a very small rear seat. Conversely, front seats are especially roomy with lots of travel fore and aft. Even the tallest drivers will find ample legroom. Materials and build quality are premium and looks Mercedes because it mostly is. But because of its diminutive size, visibility is compromised. A surround-view camera is system is optional.

The QX30 gets Infiniti’s InTouch seven-inch single screen infotainment system instead of Mercedes’ COMAND system, a system we much prefer. 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 like this.

Overall, we found the QX30 pleasing, refined and generally delightful to drive. However, with a comparable Mercedes GLA around $2,500 more, including desired safety features and a more compliant suspension, we suggest test driving both vehicles before deciding.

Vital Stats

Price: $38,500
Price as Tested: $43,735
Seating: 4
Engine: 2.0-Liter turbocharged 4-cylinder
Horsepower: 208 horsepower
Fuel Economy: 24-mpg City – 33-mpg Highway

Fab Features

Sharply sculpted style outside and in
Gorgeous, bold exterior color choices
First-rate build quality

— Jim Prueter