Driven: 2017 Infiniti QX30 AWD

Written by Lee Bailie on .

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The presence of the QX30 in Infiniti’s lineup is a reflection of two modern automotive realities: one, there are never enough SUV / crossovers in the showroom (especially in North America) and two, it really doesn’t matter how they get there.

The latter point is worth keeping in mind when discussing the QX30, a compact crossover that is the product of Renault-Nissan’s technical alliance with Daimler AG.

The QX30 and its hatchback sibling, the Q30 (not sold in North America), are based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (W176) chassis and utilizes the same engine and transmission found in Mercedes cars built off that platform, including the GLA-Class, the smallest crossover sold by the German marque.

While its mechanicals aren’t bespoke Infiniti, the styling is. All exterior body panels are unique to the QX30, and while the interior does carry rather obvious GLA items (switch gear, ignition port and graphics stand out), Infiniti designers have done a reasonably good job of separating it from its Mercedes counterpart with unique details that are in line with the brand’s design language.

It should also be noted that all QX30s are built at a Nissan plant in Sunderland, England.

For the Canadian market, three models are available: base, AWD and Sport. All are equipped with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine (208 horsepower / 258 lb-ft. torque) mated to a 7-speed multi-clutch (MCT) automatic transmission.

Although it starts at just under $36,000, the average transactional price is likely much higher because of a surfeit of attractive add-ons consumers will likely check off when ordering.

To wit, I recently drove an AWD tester ($38,490 MSRP) that’s loaded with more than $8,000 worth of options.

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Now, there is a lot there for the money (10-speaker Bose audio, 7-inch navigation touchscreen, LED headlights and foglights and a suite of collision mitigation tech among others), but all this stuff will push the QX30 well past $50,000 once taxes are included.

Could you find better value for your $50,000-plus? I think so and that could be a problem for the QX30.

To my way of thinking, the $50,000-range is a bit too much for a compact crossover (even a luxury one) with very light off-road capability, average performance, a tight back seat and limited rearward visibility.

Observed average fuel economy wasn’t awful (8.8 L/100 km) but it wasn’t great either, a reality that becomes more concerning considering the 2.0L turbo runs on premium fuel only.

On the plus side, the QX30 offers a reasonably comfortable ride, a well-finished interior (washed-out orange backlighting notwithstanding) and handsome styling.

And the performance? It’s okay, but not great – even in Sport mode, although in fairness to Infiniti, most buyers considering the QX30 probably aren’t looking for neck-snapping acceleration and great handling.

And yes, I am aware that in comparison to other compact crossovers, the QX30 is competitive in terms of pricing, performance and value.

Still, if it were my money and I wanted to stay in the Infiniti crossover family, I’d opt for the slightly larger QX50, which comes with more room, more power and standard AWD for $500 more than the QX30 AWD.

Bottom line, the QX30 offers good value at the low end, but given consumer demand for premium content these days the base grade isn’t likely to hold much appeal for those wanting more features and better performance.

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BASE PRICE / AS TESTED: $38,490 / $48,635 (incl. $1,995 destination)
2.0L turbocharged 4-cyl.
208 hp @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft. @ 1,200 – 4,000 rpm
1,505 kg
front engine, all-wheel drive

TRANSMISSION: 7-speed multi-clutch (MCT) automatic
10.6 / 8.0
48 / 100,000
Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mercedes-Benz GLA

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Photography by Lee Bailie

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