By Bob Nagy
Infiniti’s long-overdue entry into the subcompact-crossover SUV segment has an international pedigree that blends German engineering with Japanese design sensibility. Co-developed with Daimler, the QX30’s basic platform mechanicals are largely shared with the Mercedes-Benz GLA250. However the QX30’s exterior styling is unique, as are key details of its more upscale-looking interior, chassis dynamics and powertrain tuning. Available in several trim grades and front-drive or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD) configurations, this new Infiniti faces off against prime rivals like the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Lexus NX 200t as well as its Mercedes corporate cousin. While not the largest or most powerful player in its segment, the QX30 possesses an engaging personality and offers solid value, which many young and even not-so-young urbanites may well find appealing.
Buyers seeking a small, solid, stylish and affordable alternative to more conventional takes on the subcompact crossover-SUV/wagon theme will find the new 2017 Infiniti QX30 a charming, comfortable and capable travel mate.
Anyone desiring a more traditional SUV look or needing maximum people and cargo space would be better served by checking out a roomier alternative like the BMW X1. And while the QX30’s InTouch infotainment system features Infiniti’s latest technology, it doesn’t offer support for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
The 2017 QX30 is an all-new, entry-level, subcompact-crossover SUV in the Infiniti family of vehicles. Base, Sport or AWD, the QX30 shares major platform and mechanical bits with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, but the styling, premium cabin trim and driving characteristics of Infiniti’s most affordable model are unique.
With an eye on attracting potential buyers new to the entry-lux crossover-SUV experience, Infiniti did an impressive job of tailoring the QX30 to please nearly any driving taste. Each version...
... boasts its own distinctive chassis tuning but all deliver a solid mix of comfort and control, whether front- or all-wheel drive. While quicker steering, lower ride height and tauter suspension endow the Sport variant with legitimate “enthusiast-light” appeal, even the more premium-focused QX30 AWD displays solid cornering confidence despite its slightly taller stance and greater ground clearance. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 feels well matched to the mission helped by its wide torque band and driver-selectable Eco/Comfort/Sport multi-mode settings, although the transmission would benefit from a bit more refinement. Wide C-pillars do impact the QX30’s sightlines and its mandatory run-flat tires can compromise otherwise good cabin isolation on rough and uneven road surfaces, but overall it’s a solid and engaging package.
SPINAL SUPPORT SEATS
Standard in every QX30 model, these well-formed buckets borrow design technology from Nissan’s “Zero Gravity” counterparts to more evenly distribute body weight over their surface. In addition to trimming downward pressure on the pelvis and torso, Infiniti says they reduce fatigue levels by 30 percent compared to conventional seat designs.
AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY PACKAGE
Offered on every QX30, the Technology Package brings a suite of active/passive driver assists that include Blind Spot and Lane Departure Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, adaptive Intelligent Cruise Control and automatic high-beam headlights as well as a 360-degree Around View Monitor and Intelligent Park Assist, both standard on the QX30 Sport.
Although not the largest in its segment, the QX30’s well-appointed passenger compartment looks sharp and feels inviting thanks to the generous use of high-quality materials throughout, including Nappa leather and teak wood in several variants. A fair bit of switchgear carries from Mercedes, but the Infiniti-signature asymmetric dash design, InTouch infotainment with integrated central display, console-mounted controller and Spinal Support Seats that boast extra grip in Sport models are unique. The QX30’s decently scaled aft quarters will accommodate a pair of average-size adults, and lowering the fixed-rake backs on its 60/40 rear bench more than doubles the basic 19.2 cubic-foot cargo capacity.
The core design cues on the new QX30 are classic new-gen Infiniti and reflect a contemporary take on the brand’s bold double-arch grille, highly sculpted bodywork, “crescent-cut” C-pillar and LED-infused lighting treatments -- which can be upgraded to full LED-spec across the lineup. Each of the three basic QX30 models also fine-tunes its individual character themes with unique front/rear fascia configurations, ride-height settings and 18-inch or 19-inch wheel/tire fitments with the Sport jettisoning the roof rails that are standard on other variants. AWD models gain SUV-style over-fenders that add a bit more substance to their stance.
A lengthy roster of standards expands as you roll through the QX30’s model hierarchy, but even the base version comes with a full array of power assists, dual-zone climate control, basic Infiniti InTouch with a 7.0-inch touch screen and a Rear View Monitor. Sport models net unique suspension tuning and upgraded seating as well as premium touches like navigation, Bose premium audio, Around View Monitor and a power moonroof, while the QX30 AWD gets its own chassis tweaks and puts the power to all four corners, while offering full Nappa leather trim and even more primo touches.
Most QX30 extras are model-specific. While the QX30 Base and Luxury have no options, the Premium grade can be fitted with a moonroof, navigation, LED lighting, wood cabin trim, roof rails, 19-inch wheels and a Technology Package, which features a full suite of driver assists as well as a Gallery White Theme Package with White Nappa Leather upholstery and bespoke trim accents. Sport-spec options include leather upholstery plus the LED and Technology Packages. Although the QX30 AWD Luxury is option-free, the Premium version can be had with moonroof, navigation, LED/Tech Packages and wood or a dedicated Café Teak interior trim group.
Regardless of trim level or the number of driven wheels, all versions of the new QX30 share the same Daimler-sourced but Infiniti-tuned powertrain elements also found in the Mercedes-Benz GLA250. While not the most powerful engine in its class, the QX30’s smooth and responsive turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder teams well with the paddle-shiftable 7-speed dual-clutch automatic to deliver spirited acceleration across a fairly wide rev range. A driver-selectable start/stop system further enhances fuel economy, netting 24/33-mpg city/highway EPA marks in front-drive QX30s and 21/30 stats in AWD configuration.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,200-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (FWD), 21/20 mpg (AWD)
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
An attractive pricing schedule should serve the new Infiniti QX30 lineup well compared to its more costly competitors from Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. The impressively well-equipped base Infiniti QX30 opens at just under $31,000 while the Sport-spec version that also comes with primo features like navigation, Bose audio and a power moonroof commences closer to $39,500, but ticking all the option boxes can push either just beyond $43,000. The QX30 AWD comes in about $39,000 although maxing out one of these range-toppers will take that number closer to $45,500. With vehicles only starting to reach dealer showrooms, Kelley Blue Book has not yet determined a Fair Purchase Price for the 2017 Infiniti QX30, and residual values along with a 5-year Cost-to-Own stat also are still pending. However based on comparative historic data, we suspect this new Infiniti crossover SUV will be quite competitive in those areas, as well.