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Infiniti QX30: Compact, Purposeful for Luxury Buyers

By Frank A. Aukofer, July 8th, 2017

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher who pondered concepts of matter, substance, and form, might have enjoyed analyzing the 2017 INFINITI QX30 crossover sport utility vehicle.

That's because a good share of the QX30's matter -- the stuff of which something is made -- comes from Mercedes-Benz. Its form, or its essential characteristics and attributes, give it substance as an Infiniti, which is the luxury division of Japan's Nissan.

Enough armchair philosophy. In the real world, where small crossovers are the current hot fad, Infiniti needed to economically deliver a competitive successor to the old small EX in the luxury category. Mercedes-Benz was willing to sell the innards of its GLA-Class compact crossover, including the engine, transmission, and some other smaller components.

The QX30 gets its Mercedes motivation from the GLA250's turbocharged 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which delivers 258 lb.-ft. of torque. All four wheels get the power to the pavement through the German manufacturer's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which also can be shifted manually with paddles on the steering wheel.

strong>There are three selectable driving modes: Eco, Sport, and Manual. Eco maximizes fuel economy with lazy shifts and Sport maximizes performance by shifting at higher rpms. It is possible to mimic a typical "Normal" setting by using the Manual mode but that takes attention and practice.

Likely most motorists, in everyday driving, won't notice much of a difference between Eco and Sport. The QX30, responsive to throttle inputs, delivers plenty of pep either way. Sometimes, there is a bit of hesitation off the line that could be attributed to either turbo lag or a bit of slippage from the dual-clutch automatic transmission.

With a curb weight of 3,530 pounds, the QX30 AWD earns a city/highway/combined fuel consumption rating of 21/30/25 mpg. On the road, it tracks true with few corrections and is capable, with some body lean, around tight curves.

In any category of vehicle, of course, styling sells -- though whether it's exciting or off-putting always is in the eyes of the beholder. That said, the QX30 exhibits flowing, sculptured lines that bespeak a low-slung, sport/luxury orientation more than that of a utilitarian tall crossover.

It becomes evident entering and departing both the front and back seats, where you have to remember to duck or you can bang your noggin overhead. Inside, the front seats feel roomy and the back outboard seats feel tight.

Despite that, the Infiniti designers managed to scoop out more interior space than in the Mercedes GLA. The QX30 has 108 cubic feet of interior volume -- about what you get in a compact car -- divided into 89 cubic feet for passengers and 19 cubic feet for cargo behind the back seat.

Though the GLA's overall length of 14 feet 6 inches is the same as the QX30's, the GLA's numbers are 99 cubic feet of interior volume, with 87 cubic feet for passengers and 12 cubic feet for cargo.

The QX30's luxurious interior -- especially its infotainment systems -- is distinctly Infiniti, though its Mercedes underpinnings become immediately obvious when you attempt to adjust the front seats. It uses the same clumsy power switchgear mounted on the doors that is a Mercedes hallmark. Though you can get used to them over time, controls down on the sides of the seats are way more intuitive.

Tested for this review was the top-line QX30 Premium AWD, which had a $38,695 starting price. That included the all-wheel drive, run-flat tires on 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, powered and heated front seats with memory settings, cruise control, roof rails, power folding outside mirrors, and rain-sensing wipers with heated windshield washers.

The tested QX30 also came with $7,340 worth of options, bringing the suggested delivered price to $46,035. They included a panoramic sunroof, navigation system, and a technology package with adaptive cruise control, lane departure, blind spot warning, parking assist, and Infiniti's Around View monitor, which displays an overhead view of the vehicle and its surroundings.

Competitors include the Mercedes GLA250, Lexus NX200t, Audi Q3, and BMW X1.

Specifications

Base price $38,695 (as tested: $46,035)
Curb weight 3,530 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 21 mpg city, 30 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 13.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 208 at 5500 rpm
Overall length 174.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 at 1200 rpm
Transmission 7-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger AWD compact CUV
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