If you’re not familiar with Infiniti, we can’t blame you. Nissan’s luxury arm sold less than 1500 cars last year making them a rare sight on UK roads. However, this is something that may change with the introduction of their latest model, the Q30.
Setting its sights on the popular premium hatchback class, it aims to topple the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. Helping the Q30’s case are distinctive looks, a big boot and competitive – if not quite class-leading – running costs.
The smallest 1.5-litre diesel we’re looking at here is predictably the cheapest to run. Emissions are 108g/km while combined fuel economy is a claimed 68.9mpg. Opt for larger wheels and these figures tumble slightly to 67.3mpg and 109g/km.
What is the 2016 Infiniti Q30 1.5d like to drive?
With 108bhp under its bonnet, you might expect this variant of the Q30 to struggle some of the time. Thanks to much of this power being available from as little as 1500rpm, this isn’t the case. It can take a little while to get up to motorway speeds, but in almost all other situations there’s plenty of poke; just not quite as much as an equivalent Audi 1.6 TDI.
Where this engine really impresses is with its refinement. As you’d expect from a diesel, there is some vibration through the pedals and a faint grumble from under the bonnet, but it compares well to rivals. Push it beyond 3500rpm and it does become coarse, but there’s rarely a need to push it hard.
Ride comfort isn’t at all bad given the large 18in wheels that come as standard on even entry-level Q30s. At speed, bumps and expansion joints are smoothed over effectively meaning you can cover big mileages without bother. However, at lower speeds the big wheels do make themselves known: hit a pothole or particularly rough piece of blacktop and you’ll know about it, although it's never jarring.
Steering into tight corners causes plenty of body roll thanks to the soft suspension, although grip levels are good. The steering is a touch heavy but it’s easy enough to place the front wheels on the road. The Q30 never feels sharp, though, so keener drivers would be better served by an Audi A3 or a BMW 1 Series.
What is the 2016 Infiniti Q30 1.5d like inside?
Behind the wheel there’s plenty of space for even the tallest drivers with similarly impressive room for the front seat passenger. Both the steering wheel and driver’s seat have plenty of adjustment, although their bolsters could do a better job during hard cornering.
Quality is good with plenty of soft-touch plastics, attractive wood veneer and classy metallic touches. Further investigation reveals plenty of hard, unyielding plastic on the lower half of the dashboard. This isn’t an area you’ll interact with much, however, and it all seems well screwed together.
Rear seat occupants approaching six foot may not be quite so happy as those seated up front. The rear windows are small enough that some may feel claustrophobic, something not helped by the low roofline. This impinges on head room and many will find their head brushing not only the roof lining but also the side of the roof too.
Rear leg room is also on the tight side, especially with a tall driver behind the wheel. Adults or even taller teenagers are likely to find their knees jammed up against the backs of the front seats. The centre passenger has it even worse, because there’s a large hump in the floor to contend with. On the plus side, the boot is a sizable 430 litres – significantly better than key rivals.
All models come with a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system that can also be controlled via a rotary knob between the seats. The on-screen graphics look decent enough, but its menus aren't as intuitive and easy to use as BMW’s excellent iDrive. Sat-nav is a pricey £1400 option for a system that can be confusing to use at times.
All Q30s also have Bluetooth, two USB ports, air-con, a leather multi-function steering wheel and LED daytime running lights. Safety is covered by a five-star, best in class Euro NCAP rating thanks in part to standard-fit automatic emergency braking.
Should I buy one?
Compared with past Infinitis, the Q30 is much easier to recommend, particularly with this frugal and refined 1.5-litre diesel. Both company car and private users will appreciate the good fuel economy and sub 110g/km carbon emissions that will make running one easy on the wallet. We were also impressed by the safety features on offer, the vast boot and an interior that looked good and mostly felt good too.
Unfortunately, though, not only is rear space tight should you need to carry four or more adults, rivals can offer even cheaper running costs and a better interior. An Audi A3 Sportback with the 1.6 TDI engine can manage CO2 emissions of 99g/km and claimed fuel conomy of more than 70mpg. Not only is it more efficient, it’s nearly 1.5 seconds faster to 62mph than the Q30.
While the Infiniti can claim to have a good level of standard equipment, we feel £1400 for a sat-nav is expensive, especially considering it is standard on so many rivals. The Q30 may offer other kit that’s only an option on rivals, but we’d forego some of that for a navigation system.
What Car? says...
Infiniti Q30 1.5d
Engine size 1.5-litre diesel
Price from £21,500
Torque 192lb ft
0-62mph 12.0 seconds
Top speed 118mph
Fuel economy 68.9mpg