You see them everywhere. Subcompact SUVs have been the rage for the last few years, as models like the Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 have been introduced by their respective automakers.
A handful of luxury marques have also joined the fray, and the latest entry comes from Infiniti. Nissan’s premium brand recently invited us to Seattle to check out its new subcompact crossover, the 2017 Infiniti QX30, which goes on sale this fall.
Infiniti QX30: Shared Powertrain and Performance
If you’ve driven a Mercedes-Benz GLA, the QX30 should feel extremely familiar. Infiniti engineers have made their own tweaks to the steering, suspension, throttle and transmission tuning, but both vehicles ride on the same 106.3-inch wheelbase and have a similar overall length, width and height.
They also share the same powertrain: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That engine is mated to a seven-speed automated manual transmission and front-wheel drive in the base model. All-wheel drive becomes available with the Luxury and Premium trims.
The QX30 has not been rated yet by the EPA, but considering the other commonalities we’d expect fuel economy to fall in line with the Mercedes GLA250’s 25/35 mpg city/highway.
For such a small crossover, we were impressed with the QX30’s quietness and composure after a day of driving the around the Puget Sound. The first leg of our drive was in a QX30 Sport. This trim is offered only as a front-wheel drive model, and it brings in sport-tuned steering, larger 19-inch wheels, summer tires and a ride height that’s 0.6 inches lower than the standard model.
Next up was an all-wheel drive model, which features 18-inch wheels and a ride height that’s about 1.8 inches taller than the QX30 Sport’s. We found both vehicles pleasing to drive, with responsive steering and nimble driving dynamics. The ride was generally a little more composed in the QX30 Sport, which absorbed road imperfections quickly and kept disruptions to a minimum.
We found the turbo four adequate in both models, with good off-the-line acceleration and acceptable power in most driving situations. You can catch it a little off-guard if you need additional passing power at highway speeds, but the seven-speed transmission responds quickly and paddle shifters are standard if you want to take gear changes into your own hands. Sport and Manual drive modes are also offered, which you can select by pressing a button to the left of the shifter.
High-Quality Interior With a Hint of GLA
Its exterior dimensions may be tidy, but the 2017 QX30 offers interior fit and finish that wouldn’t be out of place in a larger luxury SUV. The cabin is wrapped in soft-touch materials with contrast stitching, while features like available Nappa leather upholstery and wood trim add to the upscale ambiance. Some switchgear is definitely shared with the GLA here as well, though Infiniti has brought its own InTouch infotainment system to the QX30. Our tests were not exhaustive, but InTouch offered quick response times and a navigation system that’s easy to program. An added bonus is that infotainment settings can be accessed through the 7-inch touch screen or a control knob that’s surrounded by a few buttons for primary functions.
The front seats offer plenty of space and feature the same “Zero Gravity” technology found in models like the Nissan Altima and Maxima. Infiniti claims a 30 percent reduction in fatigue when compared with a typical seat, and we found them exceptionally comfortable during our day of driving.
Ingress and egress is a little more difficult in the second row, and while the space was acceptable for shorter trips, most passengers will probably want a little more legroom on longer rides. Cargo space, however, is fairly good for a subcompact crossover. There’s 19.2 cubic feet of space behind the second row, which is more than you’ll get with the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes GLA.
An Entry Point to the Infiniti Brand
Infiniti is offering the QX30 in base, Luxury, Premium and Sport trims.
With a starting price of $29,950 (plus a $950 destination charge), the base QX30 will be the least expensive model in the Infiniti lineup when it goes on sale this fall. It also rings in at nearly $3,000 less than the related Mercedes-Benz GLA. That price includes features like dual-zone automatic climate control, power-folding sideview mirrors and a rearview camera.
If you want all-wheel drive you’ll need to look at the Luxury trim, which brings in heated front seats, leather upholstery and a power-adjustable driver’s seat. The QX30 Luxury starts at $32,600 and $34,400 for front- and all-wheel drive models, respectively.
The next steps up are Premium ($35,300) and Sport ($38,500) trims. Both come with a moonroof, and allow buyers to add features like navigation (standard on the QX30 Sport), upmarket interior materials and a Tech package that brings in driver assistance features like blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control and a 360-degree Around View Monitor system.
A fully loaded, front-wheel drive QX30 Sport will carry a suggested price of $42,200, while the top all-wheel drive Premium model will cost $44,500.
Our initial impression is that the 2017 QX30 represents a strong value for the segment, though we’d like to see the Tech package and its related driver assistance features available on the base and Luxury trims. Still, a well-equipped QX30 Premium with a moonroof, all-wheel drive and a Bose audio system will start at less than $38,000 when it goes on sale this fall.
Infiniti is targeting young families and buyers in their mid-30s that want a combination of utility and performance. It also views the QX30 as a likely entry point for shoppers who are new to a premium brand. If you’re part of a one-car family, we think the QX30 might be on the small side as a primary vehicle. However, it could be a great complement to the minivan or larger crossover that currently makes the trek to and from soccer practice. The QX30’s balanced driving dynamics, premium cabin and attractive starting price also make a compelling argument for the car shopper who’s thinking about making the jump to a premium brand.