The next 007 film will feature two really old Astons and one really fast new one
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That’s an Infiniti Q30 right? Good guess, but it isn’t. It’s a QX30. The mistake is a very easy one to make. Are you absolutely, totally sure? Just about. The QX30 is Infiniti’s taller, crossover-y version of its current family hatchback, the Q30. Thing is, the Q30 is already slightly taller than a normal hatchback, and also wears utilitarian-looking plastic wheelarches. So, what Infiniti has achieved is the creation of two cars, both of which ride loftier than a Mercedes A-Class (upon which much of the duo are closely based), but aren’t any more overtly rough’n’tumble than a Mercedes GLA. Even a Qashqai would dwarf them.
At 1515mm, the QX30’s 20mm taller than the Q30 with which it shares a body. Audi’s new Q2, which looks like a very serious rival for the Japanese car, stands 1508mm in comparison. What else sets the QX30 apart? Well, silver-coloured kickplate-style trim front and rear hints at off-road ability that isn’t really there and owners would never likely need anyway. All versions get all-wheel drive, which deploys up to 50 per cent of drive to the rear wheels if slip is detected, and there is no manual option. A seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox is the only transmission here, so speccing your drivetrains should be a pretty painless process. Not many engine choices then? Just one, that suits the UK fleet customer’s needs like a tax-reducing glove: a 2.1-litre turbodiesel (Infiniti badges it 2.2d, but that’s a cheeky bit of rounding up) that develops 168bhp and 221lb ft. Enough to bring on 62mph in 8.5 seconds, reach 136mph, and good for a real-world fuel appetite in the high forties and low fifties to the gallon. Infiniti claims 57.6mpg and 128g/km of CO2. As it’s the old Mercedes 2.1-litre diesel, you’re faced with a cacophony of clatter on cold-start, but otherwise the refinement is par for this class. This gearbox could still do with a software reboot to increase its responsiveness on kickdown – the lethargy’s what we’re used to in an A-Class, and therefore not as competent as the 2.0 TDI S-tronic drivetrain in an Audi A3. Is there anything that does set the Infiniti apart from all the usual suspects? It’s really rather comfortable. The QX30 has a bespoke suspension set-up, with damping rates retuned versus the Q30’s on account of the fractionally taller centre of gravity. Mercedes has consistently struggled to make this platform ride properly, especially with the A-Class, but Infiniti’s cracked it here, smoothing out sharp city-speed imperfections astutely and cushioning out expansion joints and potholes at speed without that dreaded crossover ‘float’ as the jacked-up body momentarily hovers on its mountings. If you’re not at all bothered by marketing sportiness that often distracts the German brands from true ride compliance, you might like the Infiniti. Will I like the inside? Not if you’ve got to go in the back seats – they’re seriously cramped. As in Mini Clubman ‘where-did-all-the-space-go’ compromised. Fit, finish and material choice is a strong suit – the ‘Premium Tech’ trim test car had a suede rooflining that wouldn’t shame a Lamborghini’s and even the gloss wood veneer was tasteful, but at £33,370, you’d really hope so too. Some of Mercedes’ more rubbish switchgear remains, in the heater controls mainly, and Infiniti has oddly decided to junk the A-Class’s excellent Comand media system and install its own, vastly inferior infotainment. On the whole though, it’s decent environment that’s not as monochromatically dull as certain Teutonic rivals. That’s an awful lot of money though… £33k is, and that gets you a hell of a lot of Audi A3 Sportback, or Q2 if you want the crossover suit. The entry-level ‘Premium’ version dips under £30,000, which softens that blow a tad. No doubt, the QX30 is Infiniti’s most credible European offering to date, but it’s fundamentally based on a machine that’s never been the best all-rounder in its class, so surprise surprise, neither is this. Properly comfy, though, and if you’re fed up of bone-jarring British roads, supple-over-schporty suspension might be the next big thing…