2016 Infiniti Q30 review

We go to Lebanon to get our first taste of the all-new hatchback from Nissan’s luxury arm – Infiniti. Launching now at a price that might surprise

By Shahzad Sheikh

Click below to watch our first drive video review from the media launch drive in Lebanon

Infiniti is on a bit of a roll. Nissan’s luxury car sister company claims it’s had its best first half in the Middle East in eight years and it’s best global first half of 2016 ever, selling over 20,000 cars. Part of that success is down to the introduction in Europe of the 2016 Infiniti Q30 – the marque’s first car made in the UK.

The Q30 is now going on sale in our region and for the launch of the car, they flew us over to perhaps what might potentially be one of the model’s most important markets, Lebanon. Smaller more economical cars offering style and quality at a good value price do appeal here.

2016 Infiniti Q30 review

In fact it’s a package that’s sure to appeal throughout the region, particularly at prices starting from just AED105,000 ($28,600) and especially as Infiniti’s first venture into an unfamiliar segment for its products, is essentially based on a Mercedes A-Class platform and even the drivetrain, albeit retuned by the Japanese engineers.

It’s aimed at getting younger buyers into the brand, and it serves up very Infiniti-esque swoopy and rather attractive and stand-out styling to appeal to more style-conscious eyes. It also has an interesting stance, being slightly taller than the segment average – 35% higher indeed. But it’s not quite ready to be classed as a ‘Crossover’ because similarly to the GLA, there will be another even more taller version with difference bumpers etc, dubbed the QX30, to take that title.

It has a striking character line running from the top edge of the grille all the way back into the tailgate on either side, there’s the ‘double wave bonnet’ and signature Infiniti C-pillar with the kink in it. Inside you get a better quality of material, asymmetric styling for the dashboard, piano black and alcantara trim and even a recognisable Mercedes key and surround for the 7-speed dual clutch auto – right down to the three available modes (Eco, Comfort and Sport).

Drivers will also appreciate the parking assist, 360-degree cameras, brake assist, high-beam assist and the standard 6-speaker stereo which is pretty good, though bettered still by the optional 10-Speaker Bose system.

2016 Infiniti Q30 review

There are two engines (a 1.6 turbo with 154bhp and a 2.0 turbo with 208bhp), two trims, two option packages and even the choice of Front-wheel drive or All-wheel drive. The Q30 S sporty variant gets the larger 19-inch wheels (optional against the regular 18-inchers on the other models) as well as stiffer and lower suspension.

What are they like to drive?

We drove the 2.0 Q30 S AWD and the 1.6 FWD. What’s common to both is good seating positions, decent visibility, acceptable luggage space and rear room and comfort, as well as good ergonomics and easy-to-use and intuitive controls and switchgear. It’s also easy to place the car and judge distances – something of a boon in Beirut with the sort of driving you have to do there.

2016 Infiniti Q30 review

As an everyday small family car the 1.6 would prove adequate, but from behind the driver’s seat it feels a little slow, with a 0-100kph time of 8.9 seconds. I even had to resort to manually using the paddleshifts and holding it in gears just to keep up with the traffic. On the short run around the kart-track it held its own though and was remarkably agile and secure, but the body roll was greater than you’d want in such an environment.

The 2.0 on the other hand, particularly in AWD ‘S’ guise, is a far more satisfying car to drive hard. The engine pulls stronger and more enthusiastically, as evidenced by its 0-100kph time nearly two seconds quicker at 7.3 – but it has way more torque at 258lb ft from just 1200rpm (compared to the 184 of the 1.6 unit) so feels far more potent to drive.

This is backed by firmer suspension that offers better body control and a more agile attitude, helped by the decent steering. It is a genuinely more sportier drive and with that sort of power and performance on tap, edges into hot hatch territory.

2016 Infiniti Q30 review

Verdict

The new 2016 Infiniti Q30 is a fine new entrant in the compact luxury segment, offering quality, comfort and a decent drive: largely due to it being closely based on the very competent but more expensive Mercedes A-Class.

So you’re a German engineered Japanese car, built by Nissan in England with a hefty Infiniti makeover at a price that doesn’t seem unreasonable at all – helped by Brexit and the weekend Sterling no doubt. So it’s definitely one to consider, but budget more than the entry level AED105k because I would recommend you go for the 2.0 – that’s definitely the better power unit – and ideally in Sport S guise with the AWD.

2016 Infiniti Q30 – The Specs

Q30 1.6 FWD
Price: AED105,000 ($28,600k)
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl Turbo, 154bhp @ 5300rpm, 184lb ft @ 1250rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 8.9, 215kph, 5.8L/100km
Transmission:  7-speed DCT auto, front-wheel drive
Weight:  1470kg

Q30 S 2.0 AWD
Price: AED135,000 ($36,800k) EST
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl Turbo, 208bhp @ 5500rpm, 258lb ft @ 1200rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 7.3, 230kph, 6.7L/100km
Transmission:  7-speed DCT auto,  All-wheel drive
Weight:  1545kg

Let us know what you think of the new 2016 Infiniti Q30 below

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