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Review of: 2017 INFINITI QX30 AWD 4dr
2017 Infiniti QX30: Finally made it
By Dan Heyman
Mar. 13, 2017
Ah, platform-sharing. It’s been around since—well, it may as well be the dark ages, really. Just think of how many variants eventually sprung from the Ford Model T. The formula is simple: you have a basic platform – usually modular – that works for any number of applications, and you want to get the most out of it.
Now, it doesn’t always work; you can’t tell me that having about 87 variants of the Chevrolet Venture minivan in the ‘90s and ‘00s wasn’t one of the reasons – in the book of many, admittedly – that General Motors had to go through what it did post-recession.
In the case of the Infiniti QX30, however, a platform share – of a very different kind than those spoken above – has worked quite well.
The best part? You’d have very little idea from looking at it that it wasn’t a completely bespoke vehicle.
Pros & Cons
- + Attention-getting styling
- + Sure-footed in snow
- + Touchscreen display
- - Rear seat space
- - Price of options
- - Back seats don't fold flat
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: there’s lots here that relate the QX30 to its sibling, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. It’s just that you don’t really see it – the stance from the rear, perhaps – by simply taking in what is actually a very nice design.
In true Infiniti fashion, all manner of curves and swathes have been cut into the body work, giving that somewhat clichéd – but nevertheless applicable – feeling that it’s moving even while sat still. I’m especially a fan of the twin waves molded into the side doors, as well as the customary Infinity kink fashioned out of the d-pillars. The grille, headlights, two-tone wheels, contrasting wing mirrors – all good stuff, and all stuff that makes this particular luxury subcompact crossover stand out among the crowd in a segment that is growing at a fair pace as of late, with Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Buick and Lexus all having entrants that have arrived only in the past two or so years.
It’s a good thing that the QX30 is distinctive, as its troubled gestation has been well-documented. What started out as the Q30 in Europe and may or may not arrive here, was eventually slated to come here, but in two forms – the Q30 and QX30 – and was then brought to dealers branded simply “QX30”, and on and on it goes. It needs to make a statement right at the outset, if only to make people forget that Infiniti may not have ever wanted it to come here in the first place.
On looks alone, I’m glad to say that it has.
This is where the Mercedes connection really comes into focus: the distinctive door-mounted seat controls, window controls, cruise control – even the stubby electronic shift lever and trip computer; It’s all Benz parts bin.
Not that that’s a bad thing, of course, as Mercedes continues to make some of the best interiors in the biz. Trouble is, so does Infiniti and I guess I would like to have seen a little more from their parts bin.
What the QX30 does get that I’m very happy with, however, are Infiniti/Nissan’s Zero Gravity front seats that are developed in partnership with NASA. I’ve been happy with these in all the models I’ve tried that feature them, and my fears that they wouldn’t work quite as well in a compact environment such as this were assuaged as soon as I sat down: these items are great, and they take much of the strain off of the body on longer drives.
The QX30 is a compact, however, and you will feel it when sat in the back seats, which offer precious little leg- or headroom; the aggressive, slanty styling definitely doesn’t help the latter. In the rear cargo department, I’m a big fan of the pass-through door (be sure to adjust the centre headrest before you use said door, however, as the headrest’s pegs get in the way otherwise), less so the folding seats whose seatbacks don’t quite sit completely flat. At least they’re well cushioned.
Happily, infotainment is another area that Infiniti has decided to keep in-house; Mercedes’ system is not bad, but Infiniti’s looks nicer, is easier to use and has a touch option, which M-B does not. The touch option for your QX30 will cost an additional $5,000 and comes as part of a tech package that also adds 10-speaker Bose audio, rain sensing wipers, moonroof, front and rear parking sensors and even some exterior bits such as chrome accents on the trunk, fog lights and aluminum kickplates.
That’s all fine and dandy, but I do take issue with having to spend an additional $2,500 on another tech package (that’s not available on the base FWD trim) that adds electronic driver aids such as blind spot warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control. I do love the Around View monitor, however; it may not be the sharpest of displays in this typical application, but it provides numerous angles to choose from in order to help you park. I’m especially a fan of the camera that sits just above the right front wheel, which helps you avoid nasty curbing incidents.
Power comes from a single engine source: a four-cylinder turbo engine shared with the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class, and good for 208 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. It’s your only choice.
As you’d expect from a lightweight car being hustled along by over 250 lb-ft, the QX30 is a brisk little thing, taking little time to get to moving from start and having you complete highway passes with little drama. A lot of that can be attributed to the 7-speed dual-cutch transmission, which can pre-select the next cog, allowing for smooth transition between gears and less of a power gap when doing so.
Much of my week with the QX30 was spent driving in some fairly snowy climes, giving the AWD system – standard one trim up from base — a chance to shine.
Shine it did; despite the light weight, never did I feel like I was struggling to find traction, even on some steep-ish grades. It was so good, in fact, that I actually really enjoyed driving in the snow as the QX30 acts completely like an AWD-equipped hot hatch, the type of vehicle you see flying over yumps in Sweden on the World Rally Championship circuit.
Of course, I wouldn’t recommend you do that in your little Infiniti compact luxury crossover, but what it translates to is the ability to access a snowy cabin or ski resort with less drama, and possibly in a very fun manner. I wished I’d had some time on a deserted, snowed-in country road with this. I really did.
Indeed, most of my time was spent in the city, an environment in which vehicles like this need to excel as much as they do on snowy backroads. Over-the-shoulder visibility is a bit of a challenge – swoopy styling will do that – but I’m sure both tall and small drivers alike will have little trouble finding the view ahead to be a good one. It makes threading the QX30 through city traffic that much easier. Which, in turn, makes the ownership experience that much better.
If you absolutely feel the need to go whole-hog spec as seen on my tester, then you’re going to have to prepare to shell out almost 50 grand to do so. That’s a lot to ask for what is essentially a compact hatch on stilts, but you do get a healthy option package.
If you’re willing to forego some of that, however, $38,490 still gets you that capable powertrain, good looks and great AWD system. FWD models, meanwhile, start at just above 35 grand.
My surprise drive of the year? I don’t know if I’d go that far. What I can say, however, is that gestation period be darned, the QX30 is one great little crossover that did surprise in just how dynamic it was. Maybe it shouldn’t have considering those athletic looks, but it did nevertheless – especially in the snow – and Infiniti should be lauded for (eventually) coming out with a very capable entrant in the compact luxury crossover segment.