Some of you may or may not know, simply because it is something buried in the back of your mind: Audi and BMW are actually the only ones in the past year to dominate the segment. Volkswagen is somehow strong too, in their ultimate brand name "Golf". Mercedes came out later with a new A-Class and also added some derivatives such as the CLA and GLA. So, that whole competition left Infiniti and Lexus without any presence in the segment.
Mercedes-Benz unlocked a bizarre chance for Infiniti. Mercedes Benz' parent company, Daimler, and Infiniti's parent companies, Renault and Nissan, have had a technical alliance since 2010. A big technical alliance, I would say now. So, Infiniti was able to progress its hatch in order to take a seat a bit above the A-Class chassis, powertrain and suspension architecture. Nevertheless, you'd hardly know it by looking at the Infiniti from the exterior. It has a unique style and you won't mistake the Q30 for any Benz. So, the Q30 took birth, and after our first drive another QX30 version was launched - most likely a cousin for the GLA with a higher stance than the Q30.
The Q30 takes Infiniti's signature design cues and evolves them into dynamic new shapes. The double-arch grille with 3D mesh, for example, has grown from the Q50, with a more fluid movement into the headlamps. The dramatic curves and turbulent lines flow up the bonnet, over the fenders and across the bodyline into the strong shoulder of the car.
The signature C-pillar arcs forward in a dynamic crescent shape that emphasizes motion, even when stationary. The contrast of the long, low-slung roofline, conjuring an image of a rakish shooting brake in silhouette and elevated stance, adds to the visual impact. This also adds to a sleek look that gives the impression of the car being in motion even when standing still. The balance of sculptural shapes moving past one another creates a harmonious design that can be appreciated at a glance.
An important, differentiating characteristic of the Q30's design is its combination of elevated stance with an overall height that is comparable with models in the traditional compact segment. The Q30's height (1,495 mm) allows for a higher hip point (531 mm), which aids ingress and egress. The A-pillar design is intentionally slim, which contributes to enhanced visibility for a confident driving experience.
The Q30 Sport stands a little lower (1,475 mm), accentuating the already distinctive, coupe-like silhouette, which is emphasized by a shallow side glass area, while also providing for agile ride and handling.
The Q30 Premium includes LED front fog lamps, body-colored and heated door mirrors, as well as chrome dual rectangular exhaust finishers. 18 inch alloy wheels add to the Premium grade's striking appearance.
The face of the Q30 Sport is slightly different, due to a more purposeful front fender design with gloss black front grille. Custom body-colored side sills give the car a striking, in-motion look, while a dynamic rear bumper is joined by dark chrome, dual rectangular exhaust finishers. 19 inch alloy wheels complete the confident look of the Sport model.
The beautifully styled surfaces feature wave shapes and dynamic lines that twist apart and flow away from the driver. This ‘dissymmetry' alters the conventional perception of occupant areas, creating a more pleasant environment in which to spend time.
Available trims deliver a personalized, self-expressive interior design. City Black blends black upholstery with purple stitching, ideal for the all-night urbanite. Cafe Teak combines classy brown and black upholstery with black stitching, providing a modern twist on traditional concepts of premium. Gallery White endows Q30 with a fashionable, high-contrast appearance, featuring white leather with red accents. All three trims accentuate the Q30's standout interior and will add to the car's appeal for open-minded premium buyers looking for a new, creative approach to cabin design.
Infiniti interior designers have also selected the highest quality materials and processes available to create a modern-looking and luxurious cabin. For example, a super-soft, highly tactile material is used to line many of the surfaces most in contact with occupants, such as door trims and the center armrest. Meanwhile, Dinamica, a new Italian suede-like material used increasingly in the high fashion industry, has been applied to the roofline and pillars, and the Q30's seats are upholstered in Alcantara.
Infiniti's trademark InTouch infotainment system, first introduced on the Q50, has been evolved and upgraded for the Q30, delivering an intuitive, tablet-like experience from the driver's seat via a touchscreen HMI (human machine interface). Using a seven inch touchscreen display at the center of the console, the infotainment system offers drivers and occupants a wide range of InTouch apps to make the journey safer and more enjoyable.
Depending on the market, InTouch allows owners to access their calendar, email and social media channels, while providing driving performance data to give an overview of fuel consumption, time and other trip information. An Intelligent-View display shows key information to the driver through the instrument binnacle within the driver's line of sight, while Bluetooth hands-free connectivity also helps to minimize distractions and encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the road ahead.
Infiniti InTouch boasts the company's latest turn-by-turn navigation system, which can be upgraded to feature NavTraffic, offering real-time information on traffic and NavWeather, which shows up to a three-day weather forecast. Infiniti Voice Recognition can interact with the InTouch infotainment system to control audio and navigation commands.
My overall experience behind the wheel of the Q30 was effortlessly proficient. The Q30 is dressed in very stylish clothing, which I can admit is better than an A-Class interior in terms of finishing. The outside is gorgeous, honestly. The driving is slicker than an A-Class. So let us wait and see what the titans of this segment will do about it: Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. I think both the Dubai and Lebanon markets' consumers will warm to the Infiniti's confident styling and they'll be getting something very close to a Benz!
One word: Newfangled.
Rivals: Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Volkswagen Golf.
Pros: Gallant styling, deluxe interior, enjoyable to drive.
Cons: Rear passenger legroom, likely limited as with other hatchbacks.
2.0 liter turbocharged
2.0 liter DOHC turbocharged, 4 cylinder in-line, 208hp @ 5,500 rpm, 350 Nm @ 1,200-4,000 rpm.
7 speed Auto DCT, FWD/AWD.
Top speed: 230 km/h, 0-100 km/h: 7.3 secs, fuel consumption: 6.4 L/100 km.
Weight: 1,545 kg.
1.6 liter turbocharged
1.6 liter DOHC turbocharged, 4 cylinder in-line, 154 hp @ 5,300 rpm, 250 Nm @ 1,250-4,000 rpm.
7 speed Auto DCT, FWD/AWD.
Top speed: 200 km/h, 0-100 km/h: 9.4 secs, fuel consumption: 5.7 L/100 km.
Weight: 1,477 kg.