2018 INFINITI QX30 AWD Road Test Review
January 18 2018, Trevor Hofmann
Luxurious Little Crossover SUV Delivers Superb Value
The INFINITI QX30 has been with us for just a year and a half, yet it's already become a popular alternative within its burgeoning compact luxury SUV market segment while providing an important entry-level gateway into the Japanese luxury brand's growing model lineup.
With an affordable starting price of only $35,990, one might think the QX30 would be short on features, but a quick glance at its list of standard content shows the complete opposite is true. In fact, walk up to the little sport utility with key fob in pocket and welcoming approach lamps illuminate the ground to each side, while a proximity-sensing key lets you inside. Yes, I'm talking about the base QX30, not a fully optioned version.
Continuing on that value-added theme, the standard features list is further bolstered with pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, plus auto-dimming centre and driver's side mirrors, while those turn signal-enhanced outer mirrors are also power-folding, making it easier to squeeze by in tight parking spots. A standard backup camera with dynamic guidelines makes reversing out of such spots less stressful too, while other thoughtful standard conveniences include dual-zone automatic climate control, heated eight-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way powered lumbar support plus three-way seat and mirror memory for both the driver and front passenger, while the standard upholstery is genuine Nappa leather front to back.
Elegant Design Turns Heads for All the Right Reasons
A classy version of the INFINITI double-arch trademark grille sits up front and centre, with cat's eyes LED-enhanced headlamps to each side for a dazzling look. Around each corner, gracefully shaped fenders swell overtop sizeable 18-inch alloy wheels, while a gently flowing shoulder line culminates in yet another INFINITI design trademark, its stylish C-pillar kink. Beautifully detailed LED taillights highlight the rear end design, centered by an elegantly sculpted arcing rear window and liftgate, the QX30 wonderfully proportioned for such a small five-door model.
Once inside, repositioning the front seats is made easy thanks to seat-profile-shaped switchgear placed high on the door panels where they're easy to see and reach. Those controls are high in quality too, as are the power window and lock buttons, the mirror toggle and switches, and all the other buttons and knobs placed around the cabin.
Looking forward, a sporty leather-wrapped steering wheel frames an attractive metallic-trimmed gauge cluster with a large colour multi-information display at centre, while over on the centre stack a 7.0-inch touchscreen gets filled with INFINITI's familiar graphics and functions. It's controlled via a rotating selector dial and surrounding buttons on the lower console, just behind a fabulous looking anodized aluminum finished gear lever.
Strong Performance Defies Best-In-Class Fuel Economy
That shifter connects through to a quick yet smooth shifting seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that's powered by a direct injected and turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine making 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, the latter from only 1,200 rpm. This results in energetic off-the-line performance, while overall drivability is plenty of fun too, especially when a curving roadway opens up ahead. INFINITI's suspension tuning provides an excellent compromise between road holding and ride quality, delivering an engaging driving experience that's nevertheless very comfortable, even over rougher patchwork pavement.
Standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters add to the QX30's performance feel, while INFINITI also made sure an effective Sport mode was part of the standard package, not to mention an Eco mode that makes the most of standard auto start/stop, this feature shutting the engine down when it would otherwise be idling to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
The result is a five-cycle Transport Canada rating of 10.6 L/100km in the city, 8.0 on the highway and 9.4 combined with its as-tested all-wheel drive powertrain, making the QX30 one of the more fuel-efficient AWD models in its category. This said both base and top-line Sport trims come with front-wheel drive and are therefore even thriftier, with a claimed rating of 9.7 L/100km city, 7.1 highway and 8.5 combined, which is by far the best in class.
Wonderfully Upscale Interior Delivers Large on Luxury
Swift, comfortable and quiet, the QX30 could be the ideal subcompact luxury SUV. It measures up in most other respects too, with a superbly crafted interior, featuring a padded and contrast stitched leather/leatherette (depending on the surface covered) dash top and instrument panel, steering wheel rim, door panels, and seat upholstery, high-quality soft-touch synthetic door uppers that extend into the back, shiny chrome and stylish satin-silver metal trim, plenty of piano black lacquered coatings, and features galore, the infotainment system in my Premium-trimmed and Technology-packed example even upgraded with a split-screen rear-view and top-view surround parking monitor that was oh-so helpful.
As noted at length earlier, the base QX30 is very well equipped, with some features not yet mentioned including auto on/off halogen headlamps, signature LED daytime running lamps, cruise control, Bluetooth phone with audio streaming, six-speaker AM/FM/CD/USB audio with satellite radio, all the usual active and passive safety equipment, and more.
Choosing all-wheel drive doesn't add to any equipment levels, however it ups the starting price to $38,490 (also unchanged) while providing unique front and rear fascia designs, extended overfenders with restyled sill panels, a different set of 18-inch alloy wheels, three centimetres-plus of raised ride height, sportier glossy black mirror caps, and roof rails.
Premium and Technology Packages Increase Enjoyment and Convenience
And what about all the features not yet mentioned? These are the result of a $5,000 Premium package that boasts LED fog lamps, a chrome trunk finisher, aluminum treadplates, rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield washer nozzles, a universal garage door opener, a colour multi-information display, more advanced INFINITI InTouch infotainment with Navigation and lane guidance, great sounding 10-speaker Bose audio, a fixed panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade, plus front and rear parking sensors.
Last but hardly least, a $2,500 Technology package improves those cat's eye-shaped headlamps to full LEDs with dynamic cornering capability and auto high beams, adds enhanced LED ambient lighting inside, plus adaptive cruise control, the aforementioned 360-degree surround parking monitor with moving object detection, semi-automated self-parking, forward emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, and lane departure warning.
I won't go into the Sport model's features right now, but will hopefully be able to cover it separately later in the year. Suffice to say it improves on styling, performance and standard features for $46,490.
Spacious Interior Makes for Easy Livability
Along with its impressive quality and loads of features, the QX30 is also accommodating inside with plenty of room for most body types up front plus surprisingly spacious rear quarters. When I positioned the driver's seat for my five-foot-eight height I still had five inches left over ahead of my knees and more than enough space for my feet when wearing winter boots, plus there were approximately four inches over my head and about the same beside my outer shoulder and hips. You could seat three side-by-side without an issue, although it would be more comfortable with two, especially when folding the centre armrest down and taking advantage of its pop-out twin cupholders.
Further back, INFINITI provides a very roomy cargo compartment measuring 544 litres with the 60/40-split rear seatbacks upright or 963 litres when they're laid flat. Alternatively you have a best of both worlds scenario of stowing longer items through a pass-through down the middle, leaving the more comfortable outboard window seats to rear passengers.
Yes, the QX30 is one very livable little luxury utility, with an emphasis on upscale refinement and comfort. Its enjoyable performance and generally easy driving nature weigh in its favour too, which would all come together to make this little INFINITI a worthy contender in the subcompact luxury SUV class even if its value proposition wasn't so good. Yet there lies the differentiator.
QX30 Value Proposition Can't Be Beat
The 2018 QX30 drives excellent value along with its many other attributes, making it one of the better choices for premium buyers that want to get the most from their automotive investment. If you're considering a small luxury SUV for your next purchase, I recommend a closer look at the impressive INFINITI QX30. You'll be hard pressed to find a nicer vehicle in this class, and you certainly won't find better value for your money.
Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.